You all are familiar with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). However, you may need a handy reference guide to the various Parts and Subparts. I’ve put together a summary of the Parts with comments based on my experience over more than 40 years of using FAR. My comments obviously are based on my experiences and my notes reflect my opinions on the relative importance of the various Parts. I think you will find, however, that my suggestions on which Parts merit close attention and careful reading are universally true.
Each numbered paragraph corresponds to a FAR Part. (H) means highly important, (M) means only sometimes important, and (L) means seldom important.
1. (M) States guiding principles, how regulations are arranged, circumstances under which regulations, clauses, policies, and procedures may deviate from the FAR rules, and generally how to prepare a D & F (Determination and Finding).
2. (H) Definitions. Always check to see if the word you are focused on is defined in Part 2.
3. (H) Improper Business Practices and Personal Conflicts of Interest section. Whistleblower protection for contractor employees and contractor code of business ethics and conduct. Procurement integrity prohibitions, restrictions, and requirements.
4. (M) Various administrative matters such as contract execution, distribution, contract reporting, contractor records retention, CCR, Reps, and Certs, and reporting contractor compensation and first-tier awards.
5. (M) Publicizing contract actions. Methods of dissemination of information and how and when to synopsize contract actions.
6. (H) Full and open competition is required except in certain stated circumstances. Exceptions must be fully justified.
7. (H) Acquisition Planning including policy on contractor versus government performance. Rules on the content of written acquisition plans. Detailed discussion of “inherently governmental functions”.
8. (H) Required sources of supplies and services. Subpart 8.4 is the only FAR discussion of Federal Supply Schedules.
9. (H) Contractor qualifications, including rules on contractor responsibility, qualifications, debarment, suspension, and ineligibility, and an important section on organizational and consultant conflicts of interest (subpart 9.5).
10. (M) Market research requirements.
11. (L) Seldom an issue. Describes agency needs including liquidated damages, priorities and allocations, and variation in quantity.
12. (H) Acquisition of commercial items. This is being used a lot. Different rules for changes and terminations. Reduced number of clauses. Streamlined procedures. This is a good time to check the definition of commercial items in Part 2.
13. (M) Simplified acquisition procedures. See the definition of simplified acquisition threshold in Part 2.
14. (M) Sealed bidding rules. Seldom used. Hardly ever used for services.
15. (H) Extremely important. All the rules on negotiated acquisitions. Read carefully. Contains rules on how solicitations are to be put together, what they should include, how the evaluation factors are to be written, how to conduct discussions and source selection, make awards, notify winners and losers, and how to conduct debriefings. Subpart 15.4 contains all the rules on contract pricing. The section ends with a discussion of unsolicited proposals which is very important but often overlooked. In these days in which the government is crying for innovation, 15.6 becomes very important.
16. (H) Discussion of all the various types of contracts. Must-read. A complete discussion of fixed prices, IDIQ, and T & M.
17. (M) Multi-year contracting, options, and interagency acquisitions.
18. (L) Emergency acquisitions.
19. (H) Extremely important. All the rules on small business programs including policies, set-asides, certificates of competency and determinations of responsibility, contracting with SBA (8a), and HUBZone rules.
20. Reserved. No content.
21. Reserved. No content.
22. (M) All about labor laws including Walsh-Healey, Service Contract Act, and disabled veterans.
23. (M) Rules in the environment, energy and water efficiency, renewable energy technologies, occupational safety, and drug-free workplace.
24. (M) Protection of privacy and freedom of information.
25. (M) Foreign acquisition. Buy American Act, trade agreements, and prohibited sources.
26. (M) Other socioeconomic programs including preferences for disaster or emergency assistance, and Indian-owned and historically black institutions.
27. (H) Patents, Data, and Copyrights. An extremely important section on Rights in Data.
28. (L) Bonds and insurance.
29. (L) Taxes.
30. (M) Cost Accounting Standards. No worry for small businesses.
31. (H) An extremely important section on allowable costs. The five tests of allowable costs. Worth reading.
32. (H) Contract financing including progress payments, contract debts, contract funding, prompt payment, and electronic funds transfer.
33. (H) All the rules on protests, disputes, and appeals. A must-read for protests and disputes.
34. (L) Major System Acquisition.
35. (M) Research and development contracting.
36. (M) Construction and architect-engineer contracts.
37. (M) Service contracting. Not really much meat here.
38. (M) Federal Supply Schedule contracting. Basically refers back to 8.4.
39. (M) Acquisition of information technology. Not really much meat here either.
40. Reserved. No content.
41. (L) Acquisition of utility services.
42. (H) Contract administration and audit. Rules for contracting officers. Important section on novations and change of name agreements. Extremely important in light of the anti-assignment statutes.
43. (M) Contract modifications. Change orders.
44. (M) Subcontracting policies and procedures. Not much meat.
45. (M) Government property use, title, reporting, and disposal.
46. (M) Quality assurance. Contract clauses, government, and contractor responsibilities.
47. (L) Transportation.
48. (L) Value engineering. Hardly used.
49. (H) Termination of contracts. Extremely important to read thoroughly. Covers both terminations for default and for convenience. 49.201 is a thing of beauty. Cure notice and show cause notice discussed. Adjustment for loss.
50. (L) Extraordinary contractual actions and the Safety Act. Hardship relief. Support anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002.
51. (L) Use of government sources by contractors.
52. (H) All the solicitation provisions and contract clauses. 52.3 contains a matrix that tells you which clauses for which type contracts are required or optional. But there is nothing in FAR telling you which clauses are mandatory subcontract flow down clauses.
53. (H) All the prescribed forms with illustrations.