Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is an essential set of regulatory laws that help manage government actions in public procurement. It contains uniform rules for all federal agencies applicable to the process of acquiring goods and services. Uniform regulations and operations make the process transparent and fair. Part 9 Contractor Qualifications of FAR describes contractors’ responsibility and procedures, policies, and standards related to them. Moreover, in this part, questions of qualified products, potential cancellation or suspension of contracts, conflicts of interest, and similar aspects are raised.
Description of Contractor Qualifications
The standards applied to contractors involve the determination of responsibility. This standard means that they must have the necessary means to fulfill their obligations as prescribed by the contract. The responsible contractor also does not violate the contract’s terms, and if the incident happened, the contractor must provide evidence of the correction of the error. At the same time, general contractors are responsible for the actions of subcontractors. To solve some problems, agencies can hire several companies that complement each other and form groups.
To determine liability, the contractor must obtain the necessary information, which confirms it. First of all, such data is provided by an offeror. The government representative also checks the available information in the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS), which provides data about affiliate and previous contracts of the offeror, or holds pre-award surveys (“The Federal Acquisition Regulation,” 2021). In the case of evidence of a nonresponsibility or responsibility, the corresponding document is drawn up and included in the contract along with support documentation, taking into account the confidentiality terms. In some cases, a contract employee may require a qualification review to further decide on the contract. After its satisfactory passage, the offeror is included in the qualified bidders’ list (QBL) or qualified manufacturers list (QML) and products into the qualified products list (QPL).
Such measures as debarment and suspension can be applied to contracts and should be considered not as punishment but as protection of the government interests. However, they often imply exclusion from the previously mentioned qualified lists and the impossibility of a contract in the future. Debarment is valid for a period commensurate with the cause and suspension for the duration of the investigation. The reasons may be intentional non-fulfillment of obligations under the contract, fraud, violation of the law, business ethics violations, and similar acts.
Contracts should be created in such a way as to prevent conflicts of interest. The basic principles imply the need to avoid biases arising from conflicting roles and to avoid the competitive advantage that has been achieved in a dishonest way (“The Federal Acquisition Regulation,” 2021). If a potential for conflict is identified, an investigation is conducted, and solutions are proposed. An example of a conflict can be represented when the contractor has developed a requirements system for obtaining licenses for the agency and helps to work with it. As a result, the contractor should not advise applicants for a license.
FAR is the essential set of rules and procedures for concluding government procurement contracts in the United States. For this reason, its discussion is often part of procurement research. For example, Black et al. (2020) mention it in discussing trends in public procurement. The authors emphasize that the United States, as the most extensive public procurement marketplace, provides many opportunities for potential offerors (Black et al., 2020). Moreover, the article states that there is a rethinking of the current policy to attract more contractors. However, there is a chance of tightening the requirements for contractors, which is associated with cybersecurity issues. The article is designed for the more experienced offerors who track changes in the market.
The Wolter Kluwer group also devoted an article to government procurement in the United States. The authors conduct a brief review of the FAR, mentioning that these are guidelines, not rules, and their continued updating to improve conditions and requirements for contractors (“Government contracting rules,” 2020). They also point to the need to keep the data up-to-date with potential contractors if they wish to obtain a contract (“Government contracting rules,” 2020). This article will be helpful for the offerors that have not yet cooperated with the government and are only beginning to learn the necessary information.
The discussed articles differ significantly, but they agree that despite the strict requirements for contractors, the government provides extensive opportunities and changes the guidelines for increasing involvement. In this way, authors may reduce the concern of potential contractors who may fear strict recommendations and encourage them to cooperate with the government. Nevertheless, articles still emphasize the importance of FAR and the compliance of offerors with its requirements.
FAR’s Part 9 is dedicated to Contractor Qualifications and describes the requirements for offerors, procedures for checking them, the possibility of contract termination, or conflicts of interest, and other aspects. In general, the government is open to proposals from potential contractors and offers them extensive opportunities. However, they must be qualified to provide the necessary quality services, and taxpayers’ money is not wasted. Recommendations are often updated to attract more contractors and keep pace with current trends.
Black, D. S., Tompkins, R., Crusius, E., & Bosco, M. B. (2020). United States: 2020 trends & developments in U.S. public procurement and government contracts. Mondag. Web.
Government contracting rules you need to know. (2020). Wolter Kluwer. Web.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation System, 48 C.F.R. (2021). Web.