Government Contracts Regulations
by ZanetaB, Former Moderator
- Created: June 3, 2009, 11:03 am
- Updated: February 17, 2011, 11:49 am
Expanding your business into the federal marketplace can be lucrative, and provide numerous networking and growth opportunities. But winning a Federal contract also means complying with laws and regulations unique to those doing business with the government. Many new contractors, especially small businesses, are unprepared for the rules and regulations they must follow, which can lead to cost errors and potential legal problems. The resources below will help you become familiar with the regulations that apply to most Federal contractors.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is a substantial and complex set of rules governing the Federal Government's purchasing process. Its purpose is to ensure purchasing procedures are standard and consistent, and conducted in a fair and impartial manner. You do not have to be a FAR expert to bid on and win a government contract. However, there are many costly pitfalls if you don't take the time to understand the provisions in your contract, which often reference areas of the FAR. Government contracts are different from commercial contracts in many important ways. Federal contracts contain or reference many provisions unique to the government. These provisions include requirements for changing the scope of work, terminating contracts, making payments; and conducting inspection, testing, and acceptance of delivered goods and services.
If you are new to government contracting, consult the following resources to help familiarize yourself with the FAR provisions in a typical contract:
- Federal Contracts - Your Responsibilities
Guide to the terms and conditions unique to Federal contracts.
- Guide to Winning Federal Contracts
An online training course offered by SBA that includes information on FAR provisions.
- GSA Schedules Contract Training
Offers workshops for small business interested in obtaining GSA Schedule contracts.
- Procurement Technical Assistance Centers
Offers advice and training to help small business obtain contracts and comply with the FAR.
- SBA's Office of Government Contracting
Helps small businesses meet their requirements to receive government contracts.
The FAR applies to all agencies in the Executive Branch. The Legislative and Judicial branches are not required to comply with the FAR, but tend to follow it in spirit and content. In addition, Executive Branch agencies issue supplemental regulations that include purchasing rules unique to these agencies. If you are plan to bid on a contract within a specific agency, contact SBA's Office of Government Contracting for assistance in understanding specific agency requirements.
Almost all Federal contractors are subject to specific employment and labor laws covering non-discrimination/affirmative action, veteran employment and wages. The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is responsible for ensuring that employers doing business with the federal government comply with the laws and regulations requiring nondiscrimination and affirmative action in employment. The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 requires that Federal contractors report at least once annually the numbers of special disabled, Vietnam-era veterans, and other eligible veterans in their workforce by job category and hiring location and the total number of employees and the number of special disabled, Vietnam-era veterans, and other eligible veterans hired during the reporting period. The U.S. Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor administers Federal laws covering wage standards for a vendor's employees working on government contracts.
The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires some Federal contractors to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a condition of receiving a contract or grant from a Federal agency. Visit the Drug-Free Workplace Advisor to learn more about these requirements and if they apply to your business.
Again, you do not need become or hire a contracting expert to do business with the government. But it is a good idea to at least understand the references to the FAR in your contract, so you can understand your specific obligations.
The following resources are good references to bookmark:
- Subchapter D of the FAR includes the details of the application of certain labor, OSHA, environmental, and other socioeconomic regulations that apply to government contracts.
- Employment Laws for Federal Contractors provides a list of all employment regulations.
- Drug-Free Workplace Policies provides information to help employers develop drug-free workplace programs.
- Visit the Government Contracting Guide for general information on how to do business with Federal and state government agencies.
Message Edited by NicoleD on 12-15-2009 11:03 AM
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