Government contracting officials receive detailed training on the FAR. So do employees of some large contractors. But for many others in government contracting, particularly small businesses, there is no formal FAR training. For them, the FAR can seem overwhelming, even scary.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: the FAR is massive. In print form, which is how I read the FAR early in my career, you’re looking at a veritable brick of a book. You’d undoubtedly get some very nice definition by using copies of the FAR for bicep curls.
But, big as it is, the FAR isn’t quite as impenetrable as it might seem at first glance–especially if you know a few tricks. Here are my top five tips for understanding and using the FAR.
There are not many people or organizations that can say they anticipated the spread of this pandemic disease that is confining million to their homes as part of stay in place orders and self quarantines.
Though the FAR Council did not foresee that the coronavirus and COVID-19 would trap contractors in their homes, it did anticipate that from time to time events completely out of the control of contractors may conspire to affect the performance of contracts—though perhaps not to this magnitude.
GAO recently sustained protest to an agency’s FAR Part 13 procurement that relied exclusively on CPARS-generated assessment chart rating percentages to evaluate vendors’ past performance. The agency’s goal was to “maximize competition” by considering all past work, rather than just relevant work.
While there is no FAR Part 13 regulatory prohibition on doing so, GAO found the CPARS charts incomplete and misleading and the evaluation inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation.
The Department of Defense awarded contracts to an average 30,806 small businesses each year in fiscal year 2016, 2017, and 2018. A proposed rule to update the DFARS may lead to these same businesses receiving payments from the government, or prime contractors, within 15 days of invoicing.
The proposed rule is found at 84 FR 25225. It was published on May 31, 2019 and comments close on July 30, 2019 if you’d like to put in your two cents.
The FAR generally favors the Government clients’ entitlement to data and software rights in federal procurements. This has commonly—and understandably—led to disgruntled contractors who didn’t realize what they were truly giving up when they opted to use their own software in performance of contracts without including regulation-compliant markings and protections.
But recently—thanks to a first-of-its-kind decision by the ASBCA—it seems the tide may have turned in favor of protecting these contractor-inventors from the standard Government windfall in its data rights acquisitions. Let’s take a closer look.
Imagine that you’re a manufacturer of appliances, and respond to a solicitation seeking one of your appliances (on a brand name basis). You, of course, propose to provide your appliance. But you lose out on an award to an offeror that submits an offer for a different appliance that admittedly does not comply with the solicitation’s minimum requirements.
In this situation, you’d probably be fairly upset. And as a recent GAO decision acknowledged, you’d likely have a successful basis of protest—that is, if you could establish that you were prejudiced by the government’s award decision, and if you understood what exactly the GAO means by “prejudice.”
An offeror’s proposal was properly rejected as late because the proposal exceeded the agency’s email file size limit.
In a recent bid protest decision highlighting the importance of not submitting electronic proposals at the last minute, the GAO held that a small business’s proposal was late because the emails transmitting the proposal exceeded 10 MB–even though the solicitation didn’t mention a file size limit.