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Administrative contracting officer

Definition An Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) refers to an individual assigned by a competent authority within the military or government agency responsible for administering contracts. The ACO’s role includes ensuring adherence to contract terms and conditions, monitoring contractor performance, and addressing any contract-related issues that arise during the contract life cycle. The ACO’s functions are […]


An Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) refers to an individual assigned by a competent authority within the military or government agency responsible for administering contracts. The ACO’s role includes ensuring adherence to contract terms and conditions, monitoring contractor performance, and addressing any contract-related issues that arise during the contract life cycle. The ACO’s functions are essential for maintaining smooth operations and minimizing risk in military and government contracting.

Key Takeaways

  1. An Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) is responsible for the administration of contracts, ensuring that all necessary aspects such as compliance, negotiations, and modifications are carried out efficiently and within the constraints of laws and regulations.
  2. ACOs play a critical role in overseeing and managing contracts by collaborating closely with various stakeholders, including government entities, prime contractors, and subcontractors to ensure the successful completion of contracted work while adhering to the rules and policies set by the government.
  3. Some key duties of an Administrative Contracting Officer include monitoring contractor performance, negotiating contracts, conducting post-award conferences, amending contracts as needed, and ensuring that contractors comply with required reporting procedures and regulations.


The term “Administrative Contracting Officer” (ACO) holds significant importance within military operations as it refers to the essential role of the individual responsible for administrating contracts between the government and defense contractors.

The ACO ensures that contracts comply with the laws, regulations, and specifications governing the relationship between these parties.

They also oversee the quality and timeliness of contract deliverables and are responsible for approving payments and addressing any contractual issues that may arise during the execution process.

In essence, the ACO is a vital component of maintaining the proper procurement and execution of government contracts, ensuring that defense resources are managed efficiently to support military objectives while safeguarding taxpayer interests.


The Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) plays a crucial role in the effective management of military contracts, ensuring that contractors fulfill their obligations in delivering goods and services as stipulated in the contractual agreements. ACOs are responsible for overseeing the entire lifecycle of a contract, from the initial proposal evaluations to the final closeout. They act as a liaison between military organizations and contractors, addressing any concerns that may arise during the contract period, and ensuring that the contracted services or products are delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner.

This ultimately contributes to the smooth functioning of military operations, as the goods and services procured through these contracts are vital to support various missions and initiatives. One of the core purposes of an Administrative Contracting Officer is to safeguard the interests of the government and the military organization involved in the contracts. As part of their duties, ACOs closely monitor contractor performance to ensure compliance with the contract terms, quality standards, and budget constraints.

They also have the authority to negotiate contract modifications, assess any potential risks, and resolve disputes that may emerge during the contract performance. Furthermore, ACOs work closely with other military personnel and departments, such as finance, legal, and technical experts, to make crucial decisions about the contract and contractor. Through their meticulous oversight and management, ACOs help maintain a sense of accountability and transparency, directly contributing to the success of military operations that depend on these contracted goods and services.

Examples of Administrative contracting officer

Bagram Airfield Base Closure: In 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) was on the verge of handing over Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan to Afghan Authorities. The Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) managed essential contracts to support base closure activities including demilitarization of equipment, disposal of hazardous materials, and coordinating transportation for remaining personnel. The ACO ensured the contractors adhered to the terms and conditions of their contracts and resolved any issues that arose during the base closure.

Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded various contracts to address the significant damage to the infrastructure and housing in the Gulf Coast area. Administrative Contracting Officers oversaw the contracts, ensuring that the private companies responsible for tasks such as debris removal, temporary housing, and reconstruction were effectively executing their projects on time and within budget, while adhering to contractual requirements.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program: The F-35 Lightning II is a highly advanced, fifth-generation fighter jet that was developed through a multinational program involving several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and others. Throughout the program’s lifecycle, the Administrative Contracting Officer was responsible for managing the multi-billion dollar contracts with defense manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney to design, build, and deliver the aircraft. The ACO ensured contractors met project milestones, delivered quality products, and stayed within budget, while monitoring overall program performance and mitigating any risks that emerged.

Administrative Contracting Officer FAQ

What is an Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO)?

An Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) is a government official who is responsible for administering contracts on behalf of the military and other government agencies. This includes ensuring the execution of contracts, monitoring contractor performance, and managing contract modifications.

What are the main responsibilities of an ACO?

An ACO’s primary responsibilities include negotiating contract terms, reviewing and approving contractor invoices, monitoring contractor performance, resolving contract disputes, and performing contract closeouts. Additionally, they may be involved in identifying potential contract breaches and recommending corrective actions.

What education and experience are required for an ACO role?

ACOs typically have a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as business administration, finance, or public administration. They also typically have experience in contract administration, procurement, or a related field. Experience with government contracting and federal acquisition regulations is a plus for this role.

What are some common skills required for an ACO?

Some common skills required for an ACO include strong communication and negotiation skills, attention to detail, organization, analytical skills, and the ability to prioritize tasks. Knowledge of relevant laws and regulations, as well as experience with contract management software, can also be beneficial.

How does an ACO work with other government and military personnel?

An ACO works closely with various government and military personnel, such as Contracting Officers (COs), Program Managers (PMs), and other acquisition professionals. They collaborate to ensure contract requirements are met and to address any issues that may arise during contract performance. ACOs may also work with contractor representatives to address performance concerns and facilitate communication between the contractor and government representatives.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Contract administration
  • Procurement regulations
  • Vendor management
  • Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)
  • Statement of Work (SOW)

Sources for More Information

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