The FAR and DFARS have 27 distinct definitions of the term “subcontract,” according to an acquisition reform panel.
In its first report, the Section 809 Panel urges policymakers to adopt a consolidated definition of the term “subcontract,” as well as a common definition of “subcontractor,” a term that has 21 distinct definitions in the FAR and DFARS.
The Section 809 Panel was established by Congress in the 2016 National Defense Authorization
The 642-page report is chock full of interesting information–including the fact that DoD small business contract awards have dropped sharply since FY 2011, something I wrote about earlier this week. But the report also includes some other important nuggets that may fly under the radar, such as the need for common definitions of what it means to be a subcontractor or award a subcontract.
The Panel writes that “[t]he FAR currently defines the term contract, an important term widely used throughout the FAR and DFARS.” However, “neither the FAR nor DFARS defines the term subcontract, another term used throughout the FAR and DFARS.” Similarly, the term “subcontractor” is used
The Panel says that both terms have “numerous definitions” under current regulations:
A search of the FAR and DFARS produced 27 distinct definitions of the term subcontract. Seventeen of these definitions were essentially the same with only minor differences. The other 10 were unique one way or
The FAR and DFARS search also produced 21 distinct definitions of
The Panel recommends adopting common definitions of the terms “subcontract” and “subcontractor,” and provides suggested definitions that could be adopted.
The Panel’s discussion of this terminology is
It drives me absolutely batty (yes, that’s official legal terminology), that I have to respond “it depends.” And, as a policy matter, it makes little sense to treat an agreement as a subcontract in certain contexts, but as something else in others. A set of rules that defines the same terms more than 20 different ways is the sort of unnecessary complexity that discourages companies–particularly small businesses–from participating in government contracts in the first place.
The Section 809 Panel’s report will come under intense scrutiny, and some of its recommendations will likely garner significant
This content originally appeared onSmallGovCon.
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