3 min read

How to Get to Know Your GovCon Contracting Officer

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In the Business Development (BD) process, your customer is the most important person. Here are relevant terms to help understand the customer relationships you make in government contracting.

End User is the department director, program manager, or supervisor who begins the process to procure products or services. They have a budget but not the authority to bind the Government in a contractual relationship.

Contracting Office serves as the buyer for the agency. There are many roles that support contracting on behalf of the federal government, including those listed here:

Contracting Officer (CO or KO) follows procurement rules and regulations and completes specific training/certifications to have contracting authority to handle millions or billions in contracts. COs have the authority to enter into, administer, and terminate contracts on behalf of the Government. KO is used by military agencies to distinguish Contracting Officer from Commanding Officer.

Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) is designated by and authorized to act on behalf of the CO/KO to perform specific duties. For example, the COR may be given authority to review contract Task Orders and have authority for some decisions.

Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) is appointed by the CO/KO to determine compliance with the technical requirement of a contract.

Small Business Advocates/Officers/Specialists support individual agencies. All federal agencies are required by the Federal Acquisition Regulations System (FAR) to contract a percentage of small businesses for products and services. Most, if not all agencies have a Small Business Advocate to engage with small businesses and assist them in working with their agency. They often participate in outreach events, small business matchmaking events, industry days, or small business connection events. Some agencies call this division the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) or Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP).


As a GovCon, conduct research to determine what to bid, who the end-user is, and how to engage with them.

  • Determine the agencies to market for contracts and which agencies buy your products/services.

  • Research the agency’s current contracts, the contract expiration dates, and incumbents.

  • Add these contracts or bids to your BD pipeline, preferably many months or even years before the procurement is expected.

  • Visit the Small Business Office for information on the customer organization and current contractors. Request a contract listing or other information.

  • Follow up with a thank you email and send any information discussed and requested during the meeting.

  • Email end-users a technical capability briefing and then follow up with an in-person meeting request.

  • Develop lists of questions to ask customers, questions for a technical person will be different than for a non-technical person.

  • Create a Customer Contact Plan and schedule in-person meetings with technical personnel.

  • Ask questions on the customer needs, what is working well, what areas need improvement, safety or security concerns, and recruiting or staffing issues.

  • Document every conversation/meeting with customers. Note questions, answers, and which person gave which answers, if more than one customer is in the meeting.

  • Use the notes to build the Capture Strategy.

  • Follow up! Make follow-up appointments with end-users for more discussions. If you commit to sending information, promptly send the information.

  • If you leave a customer meeting with notes to find a solution for a specific issue, research a solution, vet it within your company or team, and then go back to present the solution to the customer.

  • Vet all solutions with the customer prior to RFP release, when the black-out period begins.

  • Vet all proposed key personnel with the customer, so the customer knows them and approves of them.


The entire purpose of meeting with the customers is to get them to KNOW you and then TRUST you. Get the customer to want your team to win the contract.


This is the 5th in a 13-part series focused on learning about Government RFPs and your response to RFPs as a government Contractor. Be sure and download our complete guide, Government RFPs: What You Must Know to be Successful. Check back each week for another installment in the series. Happy Bidding!


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