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    April 14, 2022

    FAR Problems and Consequences

    The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is the straw that stirs the acquisition process for all executive agencies.

    Acquisition professionals and stakeholders know first-hand the complexities and problems involved in updating a Government Agency’s Supplemental FAR.

    In the three-part series on Understanding the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Process, we will cover:

    What are consequences of a non-current Supplemental FAR?

    Keeping a Supplemental FAR current depends upon a consistent and standardized procurement process throughout the agency. Failure to do so can directly lead to an increase in bid protests and an unexpected cost increase for contracted services or products.

    Some of the problems can be attributed to inexperienced procurement staff and staff overworked by the number of contracts they managed. Failure to proactively address acquisition legislation changes is another source of problems. There is more pain if your team is not proactively addressing Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council changes.

    One major public-facing consequence would be an increase in FAR scrutiny from Congressional committees, which include the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), resulting in significant issues that the agency would need to address. All these inefficiencies can result in expenditures, overruns, and hours wasted.

    Hierarchy adds complexity 

    It is not just the process; it is also the hierarchy of sub-organization supplements to the primary organization on top of the FAR that adds complexity. For example, The Department of Defense has an overarching FAR supplement called the DFARS. However, each Military Department (Army, Navy, and Air Force) and other DoD Components (like United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)) have a supplement to the DFARS.

    Then there is the Defense Acquisition Regulations (DAR) Council, with representatives from each Military Department and applicable DoD Component. There is contract and procurement support at each echelon. DAR Council is the vetting body of new downward directed changes and allows Military Departments and DoD Components to identify their supplement changes and feeds into the DFARS changes because they all need to be aligned. Additional dimensions of alignment and sequencing are also required.

    Communication is key to a successful update

    The rulemaking process is long and complicated. It is important to communicate within the Agency so updates to the FAR supplement are done correctly.

    Effectively managing a few key areas can help avoid long term problems:

    • Understand the existing processes – when developing policy updates, it is important to understand how the acquisition workforce operates. Developing policy in partnership with the workforce responsible for execution helps with adoption of the changes.

    • Manage the internal review – before the proposed update is released to the Federal Register for publication there are internal reviews by Office of General Counsel (OGC) and key stakeholders. By actively working with each group to address any concerns, procurement analysts can prevent unnecessary delays to the schedule.

    • Communicate – all updates must be clearly communicated to the workforce. This includes an effective system for distribution, a process for feedback or questions, and appropriate training.

    Michelle Obata, PMP®, PMI-PBA/RMP/ACP®, CCMP, CCMA, SA, CSM®

    Michelle is a director at Markon who supports the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Infrastructure Modernization and Resilience/Corporate Development. She holds an MS in Systems Management from University of Southern California and a BS in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics from University of...

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