Gov to English translation: The person or office responsible for buying products and services to meet government needs
What it is: It’s easiest to explain what a program officer is with an example.
So everyone in the Marine Corps needs body armor. But each Marine doesn’t get to choose their armor. There is a central planner somewhere in the Marine Corps, whose job is to understand:
1) What kind of protection Marines need
2) What kinds of armor can provide that
3) The budget they have for armor
4) The number of units they need
This central planners is the program officer.
For small volume or less complicated needs there might just be one program officer, for big and complex needs there could be an entire office, but regardless, they do the same function.
Why you care: If you want to sell something to the government, you will have to convince a program officer that your product of service meets their needs.