Written by JULIANNE GEIGER
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
GUAM - Doing business with the federal government can be a profitable arrangement, but federal contracting comes with a list of rules known as federal acquisition regulations (FAR) that contracting officials and contractors must follow.
The complexity of the FAR often discourages small business competition in the federal marketplace. But in this story, Guambuildupnews.com suggests an approach that can make reading FAR more tenable and ultimately help your small business compete for military construction work in the current Guam buildup.
Volume 7: Understanding the Federal Rulebook or FAR
The FAR is like the encyclopedia of government contracting that provides "uniform policies and procedures for acquisition." Its 2,000 pages contain rules, processes to follow, and contract forms. It explains government acquisitions, acquisition planning, labor laws, small purchase guidelines, large-volume purchase guidelines, contract administration and forms.
On top of the 2,000-page FAR, each federal agency may submit supplements to the FAR guidelines. These supplements are in addition to, not in place of, the original 2,000-page FAR. Although individual agencies are discouraged from issuing these often lengthy supplements, many agencies routinely utilize this practice, including the Department of Defense (DoD).
Guam businesses that familiarize themselves with the FAR now will have a head start over others as many small businesses scramble to get their foot in the door of federal contracting in anticipation of the buildup. GuamBuildupnews.com addresses several FAR FAQs below to get you started.
Must I read 2,000 pages of regulations before submitting a bid for a federal contract?
Although the entire FAR is recommended reading, businesses that compete regularly for federal contracts often find that only a small percentage of the total content applies to any given contract. Contracting officials can point out which portions of the FAR govern that agency's acquisition procedures to ease the bidding process. It is important to know which sections of the FAR applies to any given scenario, because to be viable, a bid must demonstrate a business's ability to comply with all the FAR's provisions, or demonstrate a reason for exemption.
Where can I get a copy of the FAR?
Businesses can pay a fee to obtain a copy of the entire Federal Acquisition Regulations from the Government Printing Office (GPO). Businesses may also view the FAR online at https://www.acquisition.gov/far/index.html.
My business has never contracted with the federal government. Are any sections of the FAR particularly helpful to first-time federal contractors?
Businesses who wish to get into the federal contracting market should read thoroughly parts 19 and 52 of the FAR, which detail the standard terms and conditions that will appear in almost every government contract. Section 52 is the longest individual section in the FAR and will require some time to get through.
If I've read one federal contract, haven't I read them all?
It is recommended that you carefully read every contract. Businesses often find, however, that there are some "boilerplate" sections that appear in most federal contracts. The first contract will be the most time consuming to read, but experienced contractors will undoubtedly notice similarities across contracts, especially if competing for contracts with the same agency.
I am a small business concern; are there any sections of the FAR that do not apply to me?
Certain sections of the FAR are either particularly noteworthy for specific scenarios or businesses, or do not apply to certain businesses. The following list briefly describes the highlights of a few noteworthy sections of the FAR.
• Section 19 – Outlines the small business programs—important for new federal contractors.
• Section 30 – This focuses on Cost Accounting Standards, from which small businesses (as defined by the SBA) are exempt.• Section 52 – Contains solicitation provisions and contract clauses. Unfortunately, this is the longest section in the FAR and is an important read for new federal contractors.
How late is too late to submit a bid?
Bids that are submitted even one second past the specified deadline are considered too late. One of the most important lessons learned from wading through the 2,000-page FAR is that the federal government does not accept late bids. Not only does it not accept them, but it cannot accept them.
I need help navigating the FAR. Where can I find help?
Guam businesses who are looking for help understanding the FAR and federal contracting process in general can find assistance from Guam Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). The center regularly hosts workshops and seminars for businesses on topics such as contracting, subcontracting, joint ventures, and navigating the FAR.
Additional resources can be found by contacting the Business Opportunity Specialist at SBA's Guam Branch Office at (671) 472-7436. The Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network also offers free counseling and information for small businesses.
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