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Appointment of Contracting Officers

From HHSAR 301.603 Selection, appointment, and termination of appointment of Contracting Officers.


  1. The HCA (non-delegable) shall select, appoint, and terminate the appointment of Contracting Officers--i.e., those individuals who are authorized to obligate the Government to the expenditure of funds for contracts and orders with dollar values that exceed (or are expected to exceed) the micro-purchase threshold. The procedures for selecting and appointing Contracting Officers apply to HHS employees. HCAs may not issue HHS Contracting Officer warrants to contractor personnel. OPDIVs shall follow local procedures in the event that the signature of another authorized official, in addition to that of the HCA, is required to appoint or terminate the appointment of Contracting Officers.
  2. The HCA shall use Standard Form (SF) 1402, ``Certificate of Appointment,'' (also known as a warrant) to appoint personnel, whether in the General Schedule (GS) 1102 series or other series, as Contracting Officers. The SF 1402 shall indicate the Contracting Officer's warrant level--i.e., maximum dollar signature authority (e.g., $1 million or ``unlimited'') and any other limitations or restrictions. The HCA shall make changes to a Contracting Officer appointment (other than a termination of an appointment as provided in 301.603-4) by issuing a revised SF 1402. FAR 1.603-1 prescribes the requirements for preparing and maintaining Contracting Officer warrants.  Go to warrants page for more guidance
  3. Before an HCA may appoint an individual as a Contracting Officer, the individual must be certified in accordance with either the Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) program or the HHS Simplified Acquisition Certification (SAC) program, as appropriate, at the level required for the warrant authority requested. See HHSAR 301.603-72 and the HHS Contracting Workforce Training and Certification Handbook.

d.      The dollar amount of an individual transaction determines whether a Contracting Officer has the authority to sign it in accordance with the delegated authority specified on the SF 1402. For new or follow-on awards, the dollar amount of an individual transaction is the amount obligated at the time of contract or order award plus any potential option amounts or future funding amounts established by the transaction. However, under an existing contract or order, when an option is subsequently exercised or a contact or order is otherwise modified to add funding, the dollar amount of the modification (individual transaction) determines whether a Contracting Officer has the necessary delegated authority to sign it.

Selection and appointment.

Contracting activities shall provide nominations for appointment of Contracting Officers through appropriate acquisition channels to the HCA for review. The HCA shall appoint an individual as a Contracting Officer only when a valid organizational need is demonstrated and after considering such factors as volume of actions, complexity of work, and structure of the requesting organization. The HCA shall also ensure that a Contracting Officer candidate meets the FAC-C or HHS SAC certification requirements, as appropriate. Consistent with FAR 1.603-2, the HCA shall determine the documentation required when the requested appointment and authority will not exceed the micro-purchase threshold.

Interim appointments.

If it is essential to appoint an individual as a Contracting Officer who does not yet fully meet the FAC-C or HHS SAC certification requirements for the signature authority sought, the HCA (non-delegable) may make an interim appointment for up to 2 years (in one year intervals, extensions past one year must be requested and justified in writing). If an extension of time has been granted, but the individual does not complete the certification requirements by the extended date, the HCA's approval for the interim appointment will automatically terminate on that date.   Same form is used to request interim authority, found on warrants page.

Termination of appointments.

The HCA shall terminate or revoke Contracting Officer appointments in accordance with FAR 1.603-4.

Delegation of Contracting Officer responsibilities.

  1. Contracting Officers may re-delegate their acquisition responsibilities that do not involve the obligation or de-obligation of funds, but involve the expenditure of previously obligated funds (such as approval of contractor scientific meeting travel and subcontract consent) to acquisition staff (for example, those in the GS-1100 series) by means of a written memorandum that clearly delineates the delegation and its limits. See 301.604 for responsibilities that Contracting Officers may delegate to technical personnel.
  2. Contracting Officers may designate individuals as ordering or approving officials to make purchases or place/approve orders under blanket purchase agreements (BPAs), indefinite-delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts, or other pre-established mechanisms. Ordering officials are not Contracting Officers.

Waivers to warrant standards.

There may be an unusual circumstance that requires issuance of a warrant to an individual who does not fully meet the FAC-C or HHS SAC certification program requirements. Contracting activities shall provide any request for a waiver of the FAC-C program requirements and policies in writing to the Senior Procurement Executive (SPE), through the HCA, for review and approval. The SPE (non-delegable) will either approve or disapprove in writing the request for waiver. The HCA (non- delegable) may approve or disapprove a waiver of the HHS SAC program requirements.  Contact ACM for more guidance:  FAC-C@mail.nih.gov

FAC-C and HHS SAC certification requirements.

  1. The FAC-C certification program is available to all acquisition staff who are/will be involved as Contracting Officers or Contract Specialists in acquisitions exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold. Personnel who, as part of prior certification programs, have completed some or all of the required training or have attained certification are not required to re-take training courses, but shall follow FAC-C training requirements when considering additional or required core training, if needed. See 301.603-74 for information regarding retention of certification, including the requirement to earn continuous learning points (CLPs). FAC-C certification also does not apply to--
    1. The SPE;
    2. Senior level officials responsible for delegating acquisition authority;
    3. Personnel who are not in the GS-1102 series whose warrants are used to acquire emergency goods and services; or
    4. Personnel who are not in the GS-1102 series whose warrants are so limited as to be outside the scope of this program, as determined by the Chief Acquisition Officer (CAO). (Note: The HHS CAO has determined that individuals with warrants which are limited to simplified acquisitions are deemed to be outside the scope of the FAC-C program.)
  2. HHS does not require personnel with Contracting Officer warrants issued prior to January 1, 2007 to be FAC-C certified unless they are seeking a change in authority on or after that date. Individuals applying for a new Contracting Officer warrant or an increase in warrant authority on or after January 1, 2007, regardless of GS series, must be FAC-C certified at the level appropriate for the warrant authority sought. To obtain an unlimited warrant, FAC-C Level III certification is required. (Note: New Contracting Officer warrants are defined in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy's (OFPP's) FAC-C memorandum, dated January 20, 2006, as warrants issued to employees for the first time at a department or agency.)
  3. The FAC-C certification is based on three sets of requirements: Education, training, and experience, and the requirements are cumulative--i.e., an individual must meet the requirements of each previous certification level before attaining a higher level certification. The FAC-C certification requirements, including additional HHS-specific training requirements for certain types of acquisitions, are specified in the HHS Contracting Workforce Training and Certification Handbook.  Go to FAC-C page for more guidance.
  4. HHS SAC certification is based on three sets of requirements: Training, experience, and satisfactory performance rating. Personnel who are involved in the award of simplified acquisitions must meet the appropriate HHS SAC certification requirements. (Note: While personnel who are FAC-C certified are not required to obtain HHS SAC certification in order to award simplified acquisitions, they should obtain appropriate training before doing so.) The HHS SAC certification requirements, including additional HHS-specific training requirements for certain types of acquisitions, are specified in the HHS Contracting Workforce Training and Certification Handbook.   Go to SAC  page for more guidance.


QUESTIONS?   Send to FAC-COR@mail.nih.gov

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