Contracting Officer's Authorization

After the Federal Contract is fully executed, there may be a need to request changes or even request permission for items listed within a certain award.  Typically, there is a need to gain prior authorization from the sponsor before taking action.  Requirements for prior authorization vary by award, agency, and even Contracting Officer.  In Federal Contracting, this is referred to as a Contracting Officer's Authorization (COA).  Please ask your Federal Contract Services contact for guidance regarding your particular award. 

A Contracting Officer's Authorization -- MUST BE SUBMITTED THROUGH the Office of Research (OR).

What types of actions typically require prior authorization from the Contracting Officer?

  • Deviations from scope of work or budget
  • Purchasing items, including those listed on approved budgets (check the language within your particular award)
  • Issuing Third Party Agreements (i.e., Consultants, Subcontracts, or Purchased Services), including all amendments to these agreements
  • Travel – foreign or to attend general scientific meetings
  • Patient care costs
  • Accountable Government Property: non-expendable personal property  >$1,000  and "sensitive items" (supplies/equipment  highly desirable and easily converted to personal use)
  • Addition/change of personnel
  • Acquisition of any interest in real property
  • Special rearrangement or alteration of facilities
  • Purchase or lease of any item of general purpose, office furniture, or equipment regardless of dollar value.

Why is a COA important?

  • Keeps activities within contract terms and conditions
  • Eliminates future penalties and/or corrections later

Why is it important to submit through OR?

  • OR is main point of contact, keeps everyone on same page
  • Some actions require compliance review/screenings and/or institutional review to ensure that University policies and procedures are being followed

Process for receiving a COA:

  • Submit your request using the COA Request Form (see below) to OR via orfedcon@pitt.edu
  • Request will be reviewed in the context of the award terms and conditions
  • OR will review your request and the award
  • OR will contact you with questions or inquiries for additional information
  • Your request will be forwarded to the Contracting Officer either via PDF letter or email depending upon the situation

What information do I need to submit to get a COA?

  • Equipment/Personal Property Request:
    • At least three quotes
    • Detailed information about the item (i.e., how the equipment will affect the outcome of the project, how it will be used, why this equipment is important, etc.)
    • Overall cost
  • Third Party Agreements:
    • Evidence of competition
    • Detailed information about how you determined the cost of the agreement
    • Detailed information about the Third Party
    • Certificate of Current Cost or Pricing (according to FAR 15.406-2)

How do I submit a COA request?

  • Download the COA Request Form
  • Follow the instructions on the form, being sure to attach any necessary documents
  • Click the form's "Submit" button to send it to orfedcon@pitt.edu

Note: The COA Request Form requires Adobe Professional software to be fully functional. While the form can still be completed in Adobe Reader, you will not be able to attach documents or use the Submit function. If you are using Adobe Reader, you may print the completed form and scan it to orfedcon@pitt.edu, but ensure that you include any required attachments in your email.

We advise departments to obtain Adobe Professional from CSSD in order to simplify the submission process.

The Federal Contracts Senior Coordinator has the lead responsibility for COA request coordination within the Office of Research, but defers to the Federal Contracts Officers with questions and final approval.  (Please see the Federal Contract Services team Responsibility Chart.)

COA requests are tracked in the Agreements Tab section of the InfoEd system.