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U.S. government[]

A contracting officer (CO) is

the person with the authority to enter into, administer, and/or terminate contracts and make related determinations and findings.[1]


(a) Contracting officers have authority to enter into, administer, or terminate contracts and make related determinations and findings. Contracting officers may bind the Government only to the extent of the authority delegated to them. Contracting officers shall receive from the appointing authority . . . clear instructions in writing regarding the limits of their authority. Information on the limits of the contracting officers' authority shall be readily available to the public and agency personnel.

(b) No contract shall be entered into unless the contracting officer ensures that all requirements of law, executive orders, regulations, and all other applicable procedures, including clearances and approvals, have been met.[2]

The contracting officer's authority is derived from a warrant, which must be displayed. Some warrants give unlimited contracting authority, while others may limit the CO to certain dollar amounts or supplies. Although delegates of the contracting officer may also bear titles, including "Contracting Officer," the authority granted by the warrant cannot be delegated.