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Career as a government contract officer?

zktzkt Registered User regular
edited March 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I have the opportunity to become a government contract officer, working for the department of defense closing out contracts and such. I have been taking courses online and was just wondering if anyone knows much about the field. this will be my first position and I'll start as a GS-5, making between $32k-40k. I also want to go for my Masters in Education. In the end everything boils down to what I want to do, but could anyone provide some insight into government contracting as a career and what I should expect

zkt on

Posts

  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I used to work as a Contracting Officer's Technical Representative, so I can tell you a little bit about what a contracting officer (or "KO" as they're called) does.

    KOs receive warrants, and they represent the government in the formation of contracts. I really doubt you'll be a KO as a GS-5. You'll likely be performing clerical duties for a KO, but who knows. You'll need to learn the Federal Acquisition Manual forwards and backwards, and a big part of your job is telling programs why they can't put things in their contracts that they want to. There's also a lot of rules for how contract bids are obtained and how they're reviewed, and you'll likely have to work with programs to make sure they aren't breaking any rules there. During performance of the contract, you'll be making sure the contractor gets paid, that we're receiving what we're supposed to, and that everything is on schedule. The program usually does most of that and just verifies it for you. On the closeout side, you'll be verifying we got what we paid for, making sure the final invoices are paid, and deobligating money that wasn't spent.

    It's a lot of administrative paper shuffling, and a lot of dealing with programs that want to know why they have to go through the long, tedious process of contract solicitation and open competition when they just want to go to company X and buy their $5 billion widget. KO's also one of the few government jobs in which you can go to jail for screwing up--which sucks because you will be under a lot of pressure from both sides to move things along and it can be hard to be thorough in that situation.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • zktzkt Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Thanks for replying. Im really optimistic about everything because of the opportunities that will become available by simply having this training. I still have 1 course left. Theres a lot of information to take in, most of which is just remembering procedures and statutes. Are things pedantic and by the book at all times?

    zkt on
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    zkt wrote: »
    Thanks for replying. Im really optimistic about everything because of the opportunities that will become available by simply having this training. I still have 1 course left. Theres a lot of information to take in, most of which is just remembering procedures and statutes. Are things pedantic and by the book at all times?

    Yes--the programs will always want to cut corners, but you can literally go to jail if you do things the wrong way.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • Luck3ySe7enLuck3ySe7en The ROKRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    zkt wrote: »
    Thanks for replying. Im really optimistic about everything because of the opportunities that will become available by simply having this training. I still have 1 course left. Theres a lot of information to take in, most of which is just remembering procedures and statutes. Are things pedantic and by the book at all times?

    Follow the regs! When you have a government job, you know that there's always a process for everything. I work at an AF base-level finance/budget and i have a tough time putting away my creativeness for new time-saving procedures and just doing it by the book. Most of the time, mistakes you make are just a huge time-sink but make a full blown ADA violation and get put under the microscope, then your toast.

    Luck3ySe7en on
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