Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Who Writes the FAR?

Often, when we report on a new FAR proposal or final regulation, we use the term "FAR Councils" when describing the source of the change. For example, we might state, "Last week, the FAR Councils published a proposed revision to ....". Well, the FAR councils are made up of real individuals working at various Federal agencies. There are two councils.

Revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) are prepared and issued through the coordinated action of two councils; the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (DAR Council) and the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAA Council).

Members of these councils represent their agencies on a full time basis. They are preemptively selected for their superior qualifications in terms of acquisition experience and demonstrated professional expertise.

The chairperson of the CAA Council (Civilian Council) is a representative of the General Services Administration (GSA). Other members include representatives from Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, EPA, Social Security, SBA and Veterans Affairs. Currently there are 19 members including the Chair.

The Director of the DAR Council is appointed by the Secretary of Defense. Members include representatives of the military departments, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) and NASA. Currently there are 14 members on the DAR Council including the Director.

The responsibility for processing revisions to the FAR is apportioned by the two councils so that each council has cognizance over specified parts or sub-parts. Each council shall be responsible for agreeing on all revisions with the other council. If agreement cannot be reached, the issues are elevated up the chain until agreement is reached.

The councils are supported by the FAR Secretariat. The GSA is responsible for establishing and operating the FAR Secretariat, to print, publish, and distribute the FAR through the Code of Federal Regulations system. Additionally, the FAR Secretariat provides the two councils with centralized services for

  1. keeping a synopsis of current FAR cases and their status
  2. maintaining official files
  3. assisting parties interested in reviewing the files on completed cases, and
  4. performing miscellaneous administrative tasks pertaining to the maintenance of the FAR.
One can imagine that there is a lot of coordination involved in bringing a regulation to publication. Between the two councils, there are 31 members representing a variety of organizations and interests that must eventually agree on concept and wording. Some changes take a long time to resolve. The oldest open FAR case is from 2010 which is attempting to implement a 2009 Executive Order (EO). Some of the changes are directed by Statute as when Congress sets caps on compensation levels. Some changes originate at the grass-roots level where acquisition professionals see a need and propose a change.

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