a private business, facility, or institution that performs a service for the Federal government under contract.
Contractor-Owned, Contractor-Operated (CO-CO) Details
CO-CO systems are often used in conjunction with information technology (IT) and its distribution, handling, and maintenance. Regarding the government, this may involve the contractor(s) taking the government’s information and handling it in their own workspace. Of course, the contractor would ensure that those who need access to this information would have the means to get it through some secure method.
Over the last decade, the use of CO-CO setups has steadily increased. And if technology continues to develop at the same pace that it is now, this trend will continue. A government entity uses a CO-CO system to keep its technology and systems up-to-date so they can focus on more pressing matters. Another reason why CO-CO setups have become more appealing to government entities lies in the fact that, most of the time, using old methods and technologies eats up time, decreases efficiency, and, most importantly, wastes money.
In many cases, without outside consultation, the government struggles to keep “in the know” when it comes to IT and other services. By using an outside contractor, the government can get processes done faster and more accurately while also saving money as they don’t need to personally update their methods each time there are newer, better services.
Example of a CO-CO Model
One example of the utilization of a CO-CO model would be the government hiring a corporation to digitally store and sort its confidential files from the previous year. In this case, the contractor could choose to provide the government employees with a cloud-based system that allows ensured and secure access to the information if it is ever needed.
However, there is always a need for increased security. CO-CO systems often require outside corporations to collect a great deal of the government’s confidential information. For this reason, the government subjects this contractor to a thorough investigation by third-party institutions first. It must meet high standards of confidentiality.
Contractor-Owned, Contractor-Operated (CO-CO) vs. Government-Owned, Government-Operated (GO-GO)
When speaking of contractor-owned, contractor-operated systems, you will often come across talk of the government-owned, government-operated (GO-GO) model as well. The GO-GO model is essentially the exact opposite of the CO-CO system. Instead of relying on outside contractors, the government purchases/leases and manages all services and technology.
In many instances, GO-GO systems can allow outdated technology and services to stick around in government systems for years at a time, possibly causing problems because of the lack of maintenance. As described previously, the government is using other models, such as the CO-CO system, in light of this and other issues with the GO-GO model.
There are also combinations of the CO-CO and GO-GO models, such as the government-owned, contractor-operated (GO-CO) system where the government owns/leases the technology, but an outside institution operates and manages it. Another such alternative system is privatization, which is when the contractor receives both information and the absolute ability to decide how the services will function in the government space. You should note that privatization is one of the most extreme cases of these models as it gives the contractor the ability to essentially dictate and influence how internal government systems run.