Respond to the 3 selected students. Responses should be a minimum of 100 words, and value to the discussion form and include direct questions.
Student 1 (Dave):
Contracting and command lines of authority are very different, however are interrelated in that one can influence the other. When it comes to the two categories, it is important to understand the differences so they can be leveraged as needed. Command authority, for instance, includes the authority and responsibility to effectively use available resources, as well as plan the coordination, direction, organization, employment and control of military forces to accomplish their given missions. It is important to understand here, that while they have great authority over those in their unit and their area of operations, they do not have the authority to make binding contracts, nor do they have the authority to modify existing contracts for the government. Furthermore, on the command front, geographic commanders also do not have their own contracting authority. With that said, it is important to note that command authority does include command direction on how contracting will be integrated in the planning stages for their overall mission, whether that is humanitarian or peacekeeping operations, commanders will utilize contracting to support the warfighter as a force multiplier.
Conversely, contracting authority gives the officer the authority to enter into and make binding contracts, obligate funds and make commitments per FAR 1.602. Furthermore, contracting officers are the only personnel authorized to conduct these activities, and their power flows from Congress to the president and then the Secretary of Defense, service/agency head, Head of Contracting Activity and Senior Contracting Officer. However, that is also dependent on the maturity of the location, theater of operation, and established command and control.
Student 2 (James):
Lines of authority are used to establish how orders are given out and who can give them out. If they are used properly and not abused then the lines of authority can help to create a successful business or contracting relationship within the joint contracting world. The two lines of authority we read about this week are the command and contracting lines of authority. Both of these are crucial in creating a successful relationships with the military and civilian forces that are working together. Determining the proper chain of command helps to delineate the roles and the “who has authority over who” debates that always happen when a new project or contract is developed. The “who is in charge” question is ultimately something that can sink a project before it is even put to paper.
With contracting authority, contracting officers have the authority to make contracts in which the government will be bound to adhere to. They have the authority to make necessary the funds required to fulfill the contract on the half of the government. With command authority comes the authority employing all needed resources needed to finish the mission.
Having a clear chain of command is important to mission success. My unit has a very confusing chain of command and it can be a large hindrance when you try and get something done. Applying a clear cut chain of command and who has what authority makes life much simpler for people involved. Without that authority or command structure chaos can take over and the infighting will completely rule rather than the mission.
Student 3 (William):
The Head Contracting Agency (HCA) and the Combatant Commander (CCDR) authority parallel each other in the pursuit of obtaining supplies and services. Appoint authority for contracting relies on several factors with experience and complexity of the acquisitions being acquired topping off the list. Contracting authority usually in an operational environment is granted from Congress, the president, Secretary of Defense, Service or agency head, HCA, the Senior Contracting Official (SCO) and is placed on a Standard form (SF)1402. The HCA are able to appoint SCO, CCOs and allow SCO to delegate limited authority to Regional Contracting Centers (RCCs) The Agency Heads are able to push contracting personnel to the service component and Joint task force level to support mission requirements. HCA authority allows for the appointment of SCO, Field Ordering Officers (FOO), Contingency Contracting Officers (CCO) and ordering officers to assist with mission requirement. The appointed Contracting Officer (CO) has the legal authority to enter into contracts on behalf of the United States government, which allows the appointed contracting representatives to become a force multiplier regarding Operational Contract Support (OCS).
The CCDR does not have the authority to bind or modify contracts for the government, so the COs authority is integrated in to the planning process to access resources for, employment, coordination, direction and control of military forces to accomplish the mission. The responsibility of the CCDR may be to ensure that Contingency Contracting Officers (CCO) are integrated at the lower levels to ensure a steady stream of supplies. The CCDR must tread lightly through the plight to obtain resources as to not impose or give the appearance of command influence or coercion on the CO and the ordering officers appointed.