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.
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
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
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!
FEDERAL ACQUISITION CIRCULARS