Federal Acquisition Regulation – The Rules You Need to Know


As a government contractor, you need to know FAR 52.212-1. Without it, you will not be able to work with the federal government. It’s this provision as well as many others in the Federal Acquisition Regulation that has kept many businesses form working with the federal government. Sometimes, it has even landed people in jail.

That’s why we’re going to break it down for you.

As a business owner, you know how much work it is to be your own boss. You’ve gone back to the drawing board and then back again. You’re up before everyone else and you’re burning the midnight oil that same day. To you, it’s not just about paying the bills or putting food on the table.

Starting and running your own business is like an adventure and it’s part of who you are. There’s a unique type of excitement that comes with creating something successful with your name on it. It’s what makes all that work so much more rewarding.

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You Don’t Want to Lose This

You’ve approached government contracting because:

  • The U.S. Federal Government is a reliable customer.
  • It’s a proven path towards business growth.
  • During recessions, it’s an invulnerable source of income (2007 was over a decade ago, we’re long overdue).
  • Let’s be honest. There are hundreds of billions of dollars just sitting there up for grabs.

In the grand scheme of things, Federal Acquisition Regulation doesn’t seem like much of a hurtle. If it were, we wouldn’t have the over 700,000 active vendors in the federal marketplace that we have today. Plus, if perceived obstacles mattered more than perceived rewards, you wouldn’t have started a business.

So don’t get intimidated by Federal Acquisition Regulation. It’s all about knowing what you need to know. Much of it just tells the government what they need to do on their end.

FAR 52.212-1 gives you instructions on how to submit your offer for Commercial Items. If you learn this, you can bid. If you can bid, you can win contracts. If you can win contracts, you will find a source of not just stability but growth that’s far more superior than just working in the commercial sector.

FAR 52.212-1

Don’t let the term “Commercial Items” confuse you. This includes both products and services that are available to regular, everyday civilians to purchase. Installing a lighting fixture is as much of a “Commercial Item” as a smartphone.

Got it? Good.

You could dig through FAR 52.212-1, but we’re just going to break it down for you in plain English.

Requirements for Submitting a Bid for Commercial Items

Offers may be submitted with:

  1. SF 1449
    • If an offer is not submitted on SF 1449, then include a statement specifying the extent of agreement with all the terms, conditions, and provisions included on the solicitation.
  2. Letterhead Stationary
  3. Any other medium specified on the solicitation

Offers must contain the following information:

  1. Solicitation number
  2. Time specified in the solicitation for receipt of offers
  3. Name, address, and phone number of the offeror
  4. Technical description of items being offered
    • The description must be detailed enough to show that it matches the contract’s requirements.
    • This includes any product guides or other documents if necessary.
  5. Terms of express warranty
  6. Price and any discount terms
  7. “Remit to” address (if it’s different from the mailing address)
  8. A completed copy of the representations and certifications at FAR 52.212-3
    • FAR 52.212-3 is a worksheet that you can find here.
    • It’s pretty much a checklist of how your business represents itself with set-asides along with various details about your products.
  9. Acknowledgment of solicitation amendments
    • Solicitations might go under modifications, this just shows that you’ve read through them and understand the changes.
  10. Past Performance information
    • Past Performance is your “grade” for how well that you did on previous contracts or subcontracts.
    • Include recent and relevant contracts for the same or similar items.
    • Include contract numbers and point of contact.
    • If you don’t have a Past Performance rating, you can start by working as a subcontractor.
Image of Uncle SAM

That’s it.

If you submit the following information above, your offer will go through. Sometimes the government might require you to submit product samples. That’s why it’s always important to read through the details of the solicitation and look out for any other Federal Acquisition Regulation clauses and provisions that are mentioned.

The Risk?

Without a proper offer, your bid will be flat out rejected. Think this over:

You’ve worked years to get your company where it is right now. There’s not enough that can be said about that. Your business has become a major part of your life if not, it has become your life. Even as someone trying to get your foot in the door for government contracts, you’ve gone through the hoops of subcontracting just to develop your past performance.

You might have spent hours drawing up blueprints or just hours trying to prepare your offer. This could also be an opportunity that lasts for years, providing your business and employees with a steady stream of work. The contract itself could be in hundreds of thousands of dollars range.

You submit your offer.

Time passes and the award notice gets released.

You didn’t get the contract, so you request a debriefing.

The contracting officer meets with you and flat-out says that you were missing an item on your SF1499. They might even tell you that your business was their first pick, but because you weren’t in compliance with Federal Acquisition Regulation…they couldn’t award you.

Trust us. We’re the world’s largest third-party government registration firm. We’ve seen similar stories before.

It Doesn’t End There

Much like working in the private sector, business relationships matter a lot in government procurement. If you didn’t win because someone else had a better offer than you, then it’s not going to be too much skin off your knee. It’s still a bit disappointing, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect on your professional competency as a government contractor.

Submitting a proper offer is a baseline skill for government contractors. If you can’t even do that, do you think the contracting officer will take your business seriously? You’re not just getting off on the wrong foot. You’re twisting your ankle.

Slowing Your Growth

Again, putting together a proper offer is the minimum that’s expected of you. If you’re always making mistakes and keep fumbling at this point in the process, you’re going to stunt your growth in the market. It’s as if you’re trying to go on a road trip, but can’t even turn the ignition to get the car going.

Take a look again at the instructions above. This stuff isn’t rocket science.

Image of foot stepping on land mine with title of FAR clause

Don’t Be Intimidated by Federal Acquisition Regulation

Let’s play out another scenario:

You submit a proper offer, but don’t get it the contract. You submit another, and still no dice. However, as you keep putting your hat in the ring, you gain valuable knowledge towards preparing your bids every time. You’re not stuck on basic formatting errors. You’re getting real insight from between the lines.

Eventually, since the bidding process has become routine and you keep improving, you win your first government contract. From there, you can only go up. After you complete this contract, you gather past performance. The more past performance you have, the easier it becomes for you to win even more contracts.

Federal Acquisition Regulation looks intimidating. There are plenty of important rules that contractors need to know besides FAR 52.212-1. However, with the right resources and professional insight, you can pull back the curtain on these regulations.

Let’s Work Together

US Federal Contractor Registration is the most trusted third-party government registration firm in the world. People work with us because people succeed with us. With the help of our experienced staff and training programs, learning other parts of the industry will be just as easy as you learned FAR 52.212-1.

Register with USFCR for a free market evaluation to see if you qualify for government contracts and receive professional guidance.

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