Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Overview

Posted on January 7, 2021

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) is a set of regulations that sets forth the rules that the Government has to follow to acquire goods and services with procurement contracts. The FAR was first issued on April 1, 1984 and has developed significantly over the years. It is now issued under joint authority of the Department of Defense (“DoD”), the General Services Administration (“GSA”), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“NASA”). The FAR is codified in Parts 1 through 53 of Title 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

The purpose of the FAR is to publish uniform policies and procedures for federal agencies to follow when going through the procurement process. These rules provide a consistent yet flexible purchasing procedure so that government contracts may be conducted in transparent, fair, and impartial manner. FAR § 1.102-1 describes the “vision” of the FAR as follows:

All participants in the System are responsible for making acquisition decisions that deliver the best value product or service to the customer. Best value must be viewed from a broad perspective and is achieved by balancing the many competing interests in the System. The result is a system which works better and costs less.

In addition to the FAR itself, there are also supplements to the rules which can add agency specific guidance for acquisitions. For example, the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) and General Services Acquisition Regulation (“GSARS”) are two of the thirty supplements to the FAR. It is important to note that these supplemental regulations do not replace the FAR––they only act as additions or modifications to the regulations. In order to be selected for a government contract award, the offeror must comply with the FAR’s complex rules, or any additional supplemental rules that may be required, or the proposal may not receive agency consideration.

As you start reading and referencing the FAR, it is helpful to understand how to locate Parts and Subparts quickly and efficiently. The FAR is divided into 8 subchapters (A-H) and consists of 53 total Parts. Those Parts are then divided into subparts, sections, and subsections. For example, the FAR section cited above – 1.102-1 – reads as follow: Part 1, Subpart 10, Section 2, Subsection 1.


The first 12 FAR Parts deal with general government acquisition matters and planning. The remaining 41 FAR Parts comprehensively covers topics that include acquisition methods, Socioeconomic Programs, Major Systems Acquisition, and Patents, Data, and Copyrights, and many others.  Though the FAR is dense and its hard-copy form is over 2,100 pages, the information is very understandable and easy to read and covers almost everything about government acquisitions.

In fact, FAR Part 52 includes all the required contract clauses and provisions necessary for government procurements, as well as a Provision and Clause Matrix which identifies all required clauses and provisions that are necessary or optional for each contract type. Furthermore, FAR Part 53 includes an extensive library of necessary forms and information in a very reader-friendly format.

Though the FAR is detailed and often criticized, it does provide an incredible resource for determining how the government acquires goods and services.

A quick reference for all the Subchapters and FAR Parts is listed below.

Subchapter A:  General

Part 1  Federal Acquisition Regulation System

Part 2  Definitions of Words and Terms

Part 3  Improper Business Practices and Personal Conflicts of Interest

Part 4  Administrative Matters

Subchapter B: Acquisition Planning

Part 5  Publicizing Contract Actions

Part 6  Competition Requirements

Part 7  Acquisition Planning

Part 8  Required Sources of Supplies and Services

Part 9  Contractor Qualifications

Part 10 Market Research

Part 11 Describing Agency Needs

Part 12 Acquisition of Commercial Items

Subchapter C:  Contracting Methods and Contract Types

Part 13 Simplified Acquisition Procedures

Part 14 Sealed Bidding

Part 15 Contracting by Negotiation

Part 16 Types of Contracts

Part 17 Special Contracting Methods

Part 18 Emergency Acquisitions

Subchapter D: Socioeconomic Programs

Part 19 Small Business Programs

Part 20 Reserved

Part 21 Reserved

Part 22 Application of Labor Laws to Government Acquisitions

Part 23 Environment, Energy and Water Efficiency, Renewable Energy Technologies, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace

Part 24 Protection of Privacy and Freedom of Information

Part 25 Foreign Acquisition

Part 26 Other Socioeconomic Programs

Subchapter E: General Contracting Requirements

Part 27 Patents, Data, and Copyrights

Part 28 Bonds and Insurance

Part 29 Taxes

Part 30 Cost Accounting Standards Administration

Part 31 Contract Cost Principles and Procedures

Part 32 Contract Financing

Part 33 Protests, Disputes, and Appeals

Subchapter F: Special Categories of Contracting

Part 34 Major Systems Acquisition

Part 35 Research and Development Contracting

Part 36 Construction and Architect-Engineer Contracts

Part 37 Service Contracting

Part 38 Federal Supply Schedule Contracting

Part 39 Acquisition of Information Technology

Part 40 Reserved

Part 41 Acquisition of Utility Services

Subchapter G: Contract Management

Part 42 Contract Administration and Audit Services

Part 43 Contract Modifications

Part 44 Subcontracting Policies and Procedures

Part 45  Government Property

Part 46 Quality Assurance

Part 47 Transportation

Part 48 Value Engineering

Part 49 Termination of Contracts

Part 50 Extraordinary Contractual Actions

Part 51 Use of Government Sources by Contractors

Subchapter H:  Clauses and Forms

Part 52 Solicitation Provisions and Contract Clauses

Part 53 Forms

If you have any questions about the FAR or Government contract litigation, please reach out to our Ward & Berry GovCon team.


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Chelsea A. Padgett, Esq. is an associate attorney with Ward & Berry, PLLC. Ms. Padgett attended law school at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and Florida.

Alan M. Apple, Esq. is a Partner with Ward & Berry, PLLC. He is part of the Ward & Berry GovCon team and is active in all areas of the firms practice.  LTC (R) Alan Apple is a former U. S. Army Judge Advocate and Chairman of the Government Contracts and Fiscal Law Department of the Army’s JAG School. He holds a M.S. and B.S. from Louisiana Tech University, a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, and a LL.M. from The Judge Advocate General’s School with a specialization in Government Procurement.