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Posted on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Don’t Let the FAR Intimidate You

It’s easy for the millions of words in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to intimidate people from mastering it or even opening it. But no one in procurement, government or contractor, can afford to be intimidated by the FAR. It is simply too critical to be avoided.

One secret: to do your job well, you don’t need to know all of FAR – you just need to know the material that is relevant to your work – or better yet, simply where it is in FAR.

A good place to start with FAR is knowing where to find the material relevant to all procurement people. That material is at the very beginning and at the very end. Subchapter A of the FAR contains general material that all procurement professionals need to know. The last section, Subchapter H, contains the clauses and forms that everyone also needs to know. In between, the FAR chronologically follows the solicitation process step-by-step from acquisition planning in Subchapter B through contract administration and terminations in Subchapter G.

The first “must-read” material is in the three Parts of Subchapter A.

FAR Part 1 has three important clauses that unfortunately are unfamiliar to many procurement professionals. FAR 1.102-4(e) tells the government acquisition team that it can do whatever the FAR or law does not prohibit. FAR 1.108(d) in effect prevents a contracting officer from imposing new FAR provisions on an existing contract without consideration. FAR 1.602-2 requires a contracting officer to “ensure that contractors receive impartial, fair and equitable treatment.”

FAR Part 2, Definitions of Words and Terms, is self-explanatory. However, procurement professionals must be forewarned that important definitions may also be found in other parts of FAR. For example, Subpart 33.1 imposes a 10 “day” deadline on filing protests.  Looking at the definitions in Part 2, FAR 2.101 defines “day” to mean “unless otherwise specified, a calendar day.”  But FAR 33.101 defines “day” to exclude a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday if any of those are the 10th day of the deadline. So when dealing with definitions, make sure you check FAR 2.101 as well as the relevant FAR section the particular word is found in.

FAR Part 3 describes the ethical rules and improper business practices including conflicts of interest that all procurement professionals need to know.

The second “must-read” material is at the end of FAR: Subchapter H contains the FAR solicitation provisions and contract clauses, as well as standard procurement forms like a standard request for quotations form.

Almost hidden in Subchapter H is perhaps the most useful part of FAR – Section 52.301. This Matrix describes which FAR solicitation provisions and contract clauses are required for various types of contracts such as fixed-price service or fixed-price construction, and which provisions are optional.

So, as a good start to working with FAR, procurement personally should become familiar with the beginning and the end of FAR, which contain information that all procurement personnel need to know.

Berenzweig Leonard is teaming up with Red Team Consulting for a monthly newsletter featuring upcoming contracts, key protest decisions, legal updates, events, and more. This post was published in the May 2016 Monthly Insights newsletter.  For more information on how to sign up for Monthly Insights, please click here.

Terry O’Connor is the Director of Government Contracts for Berenzweig Leonard, LLP, and can be reached at toconnor@berenzweiglaw.com.