The FAR is broken into 8 subchapters:
- Subchapter A – General
- Subchapter B—Competition and Acquisition Planning
- Subchapter C—Contracting Methods and Contract Types
- Subchapter D—Socioeconomic Programs
- Subchapter E—General Contracting Requirements
- Subchapter F—Special Categories of Contracting
- Subchapter G—Contract Management
- Subchapter H—Clauses and Forms
Each subchapter is further broken into Parts and then Subparts.
Subchapter A contains four parts and the topics covered are a description of the Federal Acquisition Regulations Systems, definitions, improper practices and conflict of interest and administrative matters. The FAR is designed to provide a common set of regulations and procedures for acquisitions to be used throughout the Federal government. FAR contains an overall structure and broad procedures for the government to use when purchasing goods and services. Each agency can implement the regulations in their desired manner so expect each agency to be different in their processes.
The Part on improper business practices covers restrictions on making payments to government employees to influence purchases, whistleblower protections, contingent fees and business ethics. The Part on administrative issues covers safeguarding classified information, reporting and records, Central Contractor Registration and representation and certification.
Subchapter B—Competition and Acquisition Planning
Subchapter B has eight parts:
- Publicizing contract actions
- Competition requirements
- Acquisition planning
- Required sources of supplies and services
- Contractor qualifications
- Market research
- Describing agency needs
- Acquisition of commercial items
This Subchapter covers the procedures for helping ensure procurements are fair, open and to the benefit of the government.
Subchapter C—Contracting Methods and Contract Types
Contracting methods and contract types section covers the various types of procurements, contract types, special acquisition methods and emergency acquisitions. Simplified acquisition procedures are used for purchases typically under $150,000 in value and these are set aside for small businesses. Sealed bidding is used for purchases that will be decided primarily based on price. Contracting by negotiation is used for other acquisitions particularly ones that involve selection by non-price concerns such as experience, design and schedule.
The Types of Contracts Part covers the different types of government contracts – fixed price, cost reimbursement, incentive, indefinite delivery, time and materials and agreements. Special contracting methods described are multi-year contracts, options, interagency acquisitions and management contracts. Emergency acquisitions are detailed in the final Part of this Subchapter.
Subchapter D—Socioeconomic Programs
This Subchapter covers a wide variety of topics including:
- Small business programs
- HUBZone, service-disabled veteran-owned procurement and the 8(a) program
- Equal Employment Opportunity
- Employment of workers with disabilities
- Renewable energy
- Hazardous materials
- Environmental regulations
- Foreign acquisition – Buy American Act and prohibited sources
- Emergency assistance
- Indian Tribe incentives
Subchapter E—General Contracting Requirements
Subchapter E is an important section for government contractors. This is the section that details contractor’s rights and responsibilities concerning patents, taxes, insurance, costing, financing and contract protest procedures. The Parts are:
- Patents, data and copyrights
- Bonds and insurance
- Cost Accounting Standards Administration
- Contract cost principles and procedures
- Contract financing
- Protests, disputes and appeals
Subchapter F—Special Categories of Contracting
The special categories Subchapter covers acquisitions that are outside the normal procurements. Major system acquisitions have their own section due to the size and complexity of these projects. Major system acquisitions are procurements such as aircraft carriers and new missile systems. Research and development contracting, contracting for services and acquisition of information technology each has its own Part of this Subchapter. Construction and architect-engineer procurements are detailed since these acquisitions are so different from purchasing physical goods. The last Part of this Subchapter covers acquisition of utility services such as electricity, water, gas and steam.
Subchapter G—Contract Management
Subchapter G – Contract Management details the regulations and processes required for contract administration, subcontracting, handling government property, quality assurance, transportation and contract termination.
Subchapter H—Clauses and Forms
The last Subchapter covers the various standard contract clauses and forms used throughout the government. Part 52 – Solicitation Provisions and Contract Clauses is an important reference section as many contracts will list provisions from this section without including the full provision. It is up to the contractor to locate and review the provision.
Government contractors will spend a lot of time reviewing the FAR. It is an important guide for all aspects of working with the Federal government and will form the basis for how you do business.