While the Federal Acquisition Certification Contracting Officer’s Representative (FAC-COR) Program is old hat for civilian agencies, I am continually surprised when conducting FAC-COR classes by the confusion there is regarding the program. The program requires a responsibility for maintaining one’s own certification, but in my view, it also provides a way to build your resume to enhance your opportunities for advancement.
Prior to 2007, when the structured FAC-COR Program came into being, many agencies had their own programs for training and certification of contracting officer’s representatives (CORs). There was no consistency between agencies, and the training received at one agency was often not recognized by another agency should you want to jump ship to a new agency. In establishing the FAC-COR Program, the goal was to standardize COR training and competencies for civilian agencies, but the program also provided a great opportunity for federal employees involved in contract administration to accomplish personal career goals, within or even outside the federal government.
Admittedly, most, if not all, agencies have put their own twist on how the standardized competencies and training can or should be accomplished; yet overall, the base requirements remain the same across agency boundaries. Yes, you might have to recertify when you cross from one agency to another, but if you have diligently accomplished the training and competencies and kept your profile updated within the Acquisition Career Management Information System (ACMIS), recertification at a new agency is much easier than it was before 2007.
It is not simply taking a class here or there in addition to gaining the requisite experience
The FAC-COR Program emphasizes agency responsibility for maintaining certification documentation and places responsibility on individuals who are CORs to understand and meet the competencies and training requirements. This emphasis is echoed to an extent in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), as well. It is clear that the program, coupled with agency policies, requires that only certified individuals should be assigned as CORs to administer contracts. The FAC-COR Program carries with it a personal responsibility to understand the competencies that are required for the everyday administration of contracts by you as the COR; attain those competencies; and maintain them. It is not simply taking a class here or there in addition to gaining the requisite experience—being a capable COR carries the responsibility of knowing everything there is to know about the FAC-COR Program so you can adequately manage your own personal efforts of certification and growth. In the end, however, you and the agency have the responsibility to ensure administration of agency contracts to not only meet mission goals but to promote the ideal of being a steward of taxpayer dollars.
As already emphasized by your agency, you
should put forth the effort to take specific
and continual training to meet the appropriate certification level for the contracts you will handle as a COR, but you should also take a few hours out of your day and visit the following references to help you understand what the FAC-COR Program is all about and why it is important to your everyday life as a COR.
- Pull up an electronic version of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and read through FAR 1.602 and 1.604 regarding CORs. Also read the definitions of contracting officer and contracting officer’s representative found in FAR part 2. You can find the FAR here: https://www.acquisition.gov/?q=browsefar.
- Visit the FAC-COR website found at https://www.fai.gov/drupal/certification/certification-and-career-development-programs and read the Office of Federal Procurement Policy memorandums that established the FAC-COR Program. Expand your view while on this website by not only viewing all the contents regarding the FAC-COR program, but by taking a look at the FAC-C and FAC-P/PM programs, as well.
Finally, the most valuable person to your certification efforts is your internal agency advocate for the FAC-COR Program. Establishing contact with the advocate and communicating often on your individual efforts to attain and retain certification will be a tremendous help as you navigate what can sometimes be a frustrating experience. Also remember that the FAC-COR website contains the direct contact information for each department’s acquisition career manager, which is provided to assist you in getting answers to your individual certification questions.
It is clear that being a COR carries with it not only the responsibility to attain and retain the certification requirements, but a responsibility to carry out your duties to your best ability and understanding. Managing your own FAC-COR Program certification is the foundation of these responsibilities.