Understanding the FAR and DFARS

Are you beginning to build a business and career around government acquisitions? As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there’s a great deal of information you’ll need to master to successfully bid–and win–government contracts.

To help you steer through the obstacles that you’ll encounter as you progress to competing for your first contract, we’d like to help you first understand how to use the Federal Acquisition Regulations System or the FAR.


Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR)

Regulation Compliance Rules Law - dasgThe Federal Acquisitions Regulations System–or the FAR–is the principle set of regulations regarding procurement practices in the United States. The FAR covers contracts issued by the US military, NASA, and US civilian agencies. The regulations outlined within are viewed as law for both the government and public in regards to procurement and the acquisitions contracting process. 

As a prospective contractor, you are expected to know the regulations laid out by the FAR, including the limits the FAR places on government personnel authority.


To use the FAR effectively, you need to know how it is structured. The FAR is comprised of Subchapters A-H with 53 Parts. The entirety of the FAR is divided into two volumes. Volume 1 is made of subchapters A through G. Volume 2 is exclusively comprised of Subchapter H. 

The largest part of the FAR is Part 52, which is where you can find standard solicitation provisions and contract clauses. You will need to be familiar with Part 52 because it outlines what certification requirements, notices, and instructions you need to follow to compete for specific contracts. There are six types of provisions and clauses outlined: 

  1. Required Solicitation Provisions
  2. Required-When-Applicable Provisions
  3. Optional Solicitation Provisions 
  4. Required Contract Clauses
  5. Required-When-Applicable Contract Clauses 
  6. Optional Contract Clauses

These clauses and provisions are important and must be included within a contract. If required provisions are left out–for whatever reason–the provisions or clauses will still be legally upheld in the contract. 

Understanding the FAR and DFARS - dasg

Another section of interest for you would be all of Subchapter D because it describes the various socio-economic programs. In this subchapter, you will find regulations for small business programs, foreign source purchasing, labor laws, and more. 

FAR Part 45 should be included in your study because it outlines the rules for your obligations as a contractor and the government’s remedies if you cannot uphold those obligations. 

Next, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with pricing regulations. While it’s true that pricing is discussed throughout the FAR, Subparts 15.4, 30, 31, and Subparts 42.7, 42.8, and 42.17 will be especially helpful. 

Note: there is a correct way to cite the FAR. You list the citation by Part, Subpart, and Subsection–without respect to Subchapter. So, the FAR rule for legislative lobbying is found in Part 31, Section 205, and Subsection 22 and would be cited like this: FAR 31.205-22. 

Defense Federal Acquisitions Regulation Supplement (DFARS)

Business people negotiating a contract - dasg

If you are interested in competing for solicitations under the Department of Defense, you will need to refer to a supplemental source of regulations to the FAR called the Defense Federal Acquisitions Regulations Supplement–the DFARS for short. The DFARS should be read as a collaborative resource to the FAR. 

There are also 53 parts to the DFARS and as a contractor here are the sections that would be most helpful to understand: 

  • 206 outlines the competition requirements for a solicitation.
  • 207 discusses acquisition planning.
  • 209 describes contractor qualifications.
  • 216 identifies the types of contracts used in DoD acquisitions.
  • 219 explores small business programs.
  • 252 specifies solicitation provisions and contract clauses. 
  • 253 will be where you can find your required forms. 

If you plan to win Department of Defense acquisitions, you will need to understand how to follow contracting procedures as directed in both the FAR and the DFARS. 

Contact Us

If you want to thrive in the world of government acquisitions, you must become intimately familiar with the FAR, DFARS if you’re working for the DoD, or any of the other FAR Supplements used by NASA and various civilian agencies. We understand that this is a lot to take in during your first contracting experience, and that’s why we are here for you. If you’re feeling swamped by the legalese within the government codes and forms, contact us today so that we can guide you to victory.



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