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FedSubK Feature: Agency Supplements - The FAR and Its "Child" Regulations

Updated: May 4

The Federal Acquisition Regulation, or "FAR", is the definitive guidance for Federal contracting. But, did you know that each agency also has its own supplement to the FAR? FAR agency supplements address agency-specific requirements, procedures, and best practices within a given FAR part or subpart and are used whenever the standard FAR language doesn't fully address an agency's unique operational or programmatic need. Let's talk about how the FAR and it's supplements, or "children", co-exist to create a coherent and agency-specific acquisition framework that aligns with the agency's missions and objectives.


What authorizes agencies to create FAR supplements?

FAR Subpart 1.3 gives agency heads the authority to issue agency acquisition regulations that implement or supplement the FAR and incorporate, together with the FAR, agency policies, procedures, contract clauses, solicitation provisions, and forms that govern the contracting process or otherwise control the relationship between the agency, including any of its suborganizations, and contractors or prospective contractors. FAR supplements are different from other internal agency guidance at any organizational level (e.g., designations and delegations of authority, assignments of responsibilities, work-flow procedures, and internal reporting requirements).


Are FAR supplements available for public comment?

Agency heads must ensure that agency acquisition regulations are published for comment in the Federal Register in conformance with the procedures in FAR subpart 1.5 and as required by Title 41 United States Code (U.S.C.) Chapter 1707, and other applicable statutes, when they have a significant effect beyond the internal operating procedures of the agency or have a significant cost or administrative impact on contractors or offerors. Changes to agency supplements are posted with instructions for the submission of public comments.


Are there any limitations for FAR supplements?


Agency acquisition regulations implementing or supplementing the FAR are for-

  • The military departments and defense agencies, issued subject to the authority of the Secretary of Defense,

  • NASA activities, issued subject to the authorities of the Administrator of NASA, and

  • The civilian agencies other than NASA, issued by the heads of those agencies subject to the overall authority of the Administrator of General Services or independent authority the agency may have.


Agency acquisition regulations are limited to-

  • Those necessary to implement FAR policies and procedures within the agency; and

  • Additional policies, procedures, solicitation provisions, or contract clauses that supplement the FAR to satisfy the specific needs of the agency.


Agency acquisition regulations cannot-

  • Unnecessarily repeat, paraphrase, or otherwise restate material contained in the FAR or higher-level agency acquisition regulations, or

  • Except as required by law or as provided elsewhere in the FAR, conflict or be inconsistent with FAR content.

Coverage proposed in an agency regulation that is not exclusive to one agency is typically reviewed by the FAR Council for inclusion in the FAR for applicability to all Federal agencies.


How are FAR supplements organized?

Agency-wide acquisition regulations parallel the FAR in format, arrangement, and numbering system. Coverage in an agency acquisition regulation that implements a specific part, subpart, section, or subsection of the FAR are numbered and titled to correspond to the appropriate FAR number and title. This makes it easy for readers to locate specific guidance. If no similar part or subpart exists in the agency supplement, the FAR dictates the process or guidance. If one does exist, both the FAR and agency procedures and guidance must be taken into consideration.


Supplementary material for which there is no counterpart in the FAR use chapter, part, subpart, section, or subsection numbers of 70 and up (e.g., for the Department of Interior, whose assigned chapter number in Title 48 is 14, Part 1470, Subpart 1401.70, section 1401.370, or subsection 1401.301-70).



How will I know if an agency has a FAR supplement?

All agency FAR supplements are housed at acquisition.gov under the "Regulations" tab at the top of the page. To find if a FAR part has supplemental guidance, follow our instructions for using the Acquisition Regulation Comparator (ARC). ARC is found under the "Tools" tab at the same site.


Below is a list of agency FAR supplements found at acquisition.gov.

FAR agency supplements are essential tools for Federal agencies to tailor Federal acquisition regulations to their specific requirements. By understanding their purpose, when they are used, what they include, their format, and the process for creating them, beginners can gain a better grasp of this critical aspect of Federal contracting. These supplements empower agencies to meet their missions effectively while maintaining compliance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation itself.


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