On June 30, 2016, a major new SBA regulation took effect, overhauling the limitations on subcontracting. The SBA’s new regulation, codified at 13 C.F.R. 125.6, replaced the “old” formulas for calculating compliance–like “cost of the contract incurred for personnel,” for service contracts, with new, easier-to-use formulas based on the amount paid by the government. And, in a major boon for small businesses, the SBA’s new regulation allowed small primes to count work performed by “similarly situated entities” toward the prime’s own self-performance.
But more than five years after the SBA regulation took effect, the FAR’s provisions governing the limitations on subcontracting still resemble Marty McFly: stuck in the past. The FAR Council still has not updated the FAR to conform with the SBA’s regulations and the underlying Congressional mandate, causing considerable confusion for contractors trying to figure out which rule to follow.
Now, though, we may finally (hopefully!) be nearing the finish line for this important and long-delayed FAR change.
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.
Lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) source selection has been on the decline lately. A recent final rule from the FAR Council, effective February 16, 2021, continues this trend. In the rule, the FAR Council implemented additional restrictions on the use of LPTA for non-DoD contracts.
The FAR Council recently moved forward with implementing provisions of Section 889(a)(1)(B) of the 2019 NDAA through an interim rule. This rule, effective August 13, 2020, furthers the work begun previously of separating the federal government and its contractors from certain Chinese telecom and video surveillance companies.
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.
A quick update on a proposed FAR rule that will put in place restrictions on use of lowest-price, technically acceptable (LPTA) solicitations in non-DOD agencies, as mandated in the 2019 NDAA. There are a few differences from the similar rule that recently went into effect for DOD.