Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why Does it Take so Long to Change the FAR?

 The FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) Operating Guide details the process for issuing revisions to the FAR. The Guide states that the standard timeline for FAR cases is 16 months from the time a report is submitted with a draft proposed or interim rule until the final rule is published. If 16 months seems like a long time, it is. However, be advised that the FAR Council often fails to even achieve a 16 month turn-around.

The FAR rule-making process is somewhat unique in that it does not follow the typical "Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) process. FAR rule-making begins by going through the FAR Council process, which includes several layers of approval that include (i) the Defense Acquisition Regulatory Council (DARC), (ii) the Civilian Agancy Acquisition Council (CAAC), (iii) General Services Administration (GSA), and (iv) the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) before it even gets to the OIRA.

After the FAR Coucil process, rules are then sent for a final check through the OIRA clearance process before publication as a final rule. The FAR Council, CAAC, and DARC all have members representing various agencies and are all expected to reach consensus on these rules, which are often very complex.

There have been many complaints about the process by various stakeholders and these complaints have reached Congress. The version of the 2016 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) passed by the House includes a provision that requires a study to determine how the process can be expedited.

Specifically, the NDAA directs the OFPP (Office of Federal Procurement Policy) to conduct a review of the FAR rule-making process with the goals of improving the timeliness of this process and identifying inefficiencies that contribute to the slowness. Congress expects a briefing on the OFPP study later this year on the findings of the review. It also expects to hear "... recommendations for improving the FAR rule-making process."

Don't expect anything to change significantly.

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