Federal Acquisition Regulations System (FAR)

The Rulebook for Government Contracts, The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) was established to codify uniform policies for acquisition of supplies and services by executive agencies.

The Federal Acquisition Regulations are issued and maintained jointly, pursuant to the OFPP Reauthorization Act, under the statutory authorities granted to the Secretary of Defense, Administrator of General Services and the Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Statutory authorities to issue and revise the FAR have been delegated to the Procurement Executives in DOD, GSA and NASA.

GSA FAR Secretariat Publishes the FAR on behalf of all three FAR issuing agencies. The GSA Federal Acquisition Policy Division maintains the FAR Secretariat to act as the publication and administrative support arm of the FAR.

The purpose of the FAR is to provide "uniform policies and procedures for acquisition." FAR 1.101. Among its guiding principles is to have an acquisition system that (1) satisfies customer's needs in terms of cost, quality, and timeliness; (2) minimize administrative operating costs; (3) conduct business with integrity, fairness, and openness; and (4) fulfill other public policy objectives. FAR 1.102(b).

The FAR also includes socioeconomic requirements, such as for certain items to be required to be purchased from United States firms only and for large organizations to use smaller businesses (specifically small disadvantaged businesses, those being woman-owned and/or minority-owned) as subcontractors.

When a government agency issues a contract or a proposal, it will specify a list of FAR provisions that apply to that contract, which may be numerous. In order to be awarded a contract, a bidder must either comply with the provisions, demonstrate that it will be able to comply with them at the time of award, and/or claim an exemption from them. As an example, Part 30 (which references Cost Accounting Standards) allows for small businesses to be exempt from those requirements; if the bidder can demonstrate that it meets the small business criteria, Part 30 would then not apply.

In many cases, a contract award can be challenged and set aside if a challenger can prove that either the contracting agency and/or the successful bidder did not comply with the contract solicitation requirements, usually so that the challenger can either be awarded the contract in lieu of the original bidder's award of the contract or get another shot at a bid.

Many have suggested that the complexity of complying with the FAR discourages competition, especially by small companies

Federal Acquisition Regulation: The Rulebook for Government Contracts

Most often referred to as the “FAR”, the Federal Acquisition Regulation is a resource guide for government rules and procedures. The FAR is like the Bible for government contracting rules, processes, plus contract forms and clauses. If you’re doing business with the federal government or looking into it, you should have a basic understanding of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation is comprised of over 1,000 pages and divided into 53 parts. Separate aspects of the acquisition process are featured in each part.

General government acquisition matters are explained in the first six parts, and acquisition planning is featured in the next six parts.

The remaining Federal Acquisition Regulations cover a range of topics, such as labor laws, simplified acquisitions (small purchases), contract administration, large dollar value buys, and applicable clauses and forms.

Although the FAR is the primary resource for acquisition regulations, each government agency may submit supplements to the Federal Acquisition Regulation. These Federal Acquisition Regulation supplements, although they can add up more than 1,000 pages, aren’t meant to be stand-alones.

Be sure to read the supplements in conjunction with the FAR so you know the full scope of the regulations. Unfortunately, only a very small portion of the FAR supplements may apply to the contract at hand. This is why it’s important to ask the contracting officer which Federal Acquisition Regulations govern their acquisition procedure for the contract –it is critical to verify this before you bid or quote.

Never assume anything — it could cost you the contract!

If you’re new to government contracting or a small business, you’ll want to read part 19 and part 52 of the FAR. These parts cover the standard terms and conditions contained in a government contract.

Interested in working with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)? They have their own set of Federal Acquisitions Regulations, granted by congress. Although many provisions in the FAA are like the FAR, be careful and don’t assume that the FAA is very similar to the FAR.

Getting a Copy of the Federal Acquisition Regulation

You can obtain a copy of the Federal Acquisition Regulation from the Government Printing Office (GPO) by paying a fee. Make sure that if you place an order with the GPO for a copy of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the price includes any updates so you’ll have full details before you send in your bid or quote.

If you’d rather read the FAR online, visit http://farsite.hill.af.mil. Be sure to check when the webpage was last updated to make sure you’re getting the most current FAR supplement information.




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