The Absurdity of Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)

Air Force by on November 9, 2006 at 6:06 pm

If you’ve ever had nightmares about the waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars, and wanted to dance with the devil, take a spin through the Federal Acquisition Regulations. The index is 140 pages.

From what I’ve witnessed in the government, the FAR resulted from heavy lobbying by influential contractors, not penny-pinching accountants. My favorite absurd regulation:

  • The government cannot allow a contractor’s prior performance impact the awarding of a new contract.

If Contractor “Chenfeld” absolutely botches an important contract, the government cannot use that information to impact the awarding of a new contract. I’m sure there are some limitations to this (like if they broke the law), but I’m also sure that they rarely come up.

Some of the groups I work with use contractors extensively. People with security clearances are very hard to find, and once the government has cleared an employee, the employee commonly flees to private industry where they can double their salary as a contractor. Oh, and they often return to do the same job. But I digress… The contracting firms distribute ‘sample resumes’ when they seek to win a contract for personnel (ex. 20 java engineers). Of course, once they win the contract, the seemingly talented resumes are replaced with far more junior personnel. The actual contractors ‘delivered’ are frequently incompetent and actually detract from the work.

And, you have to hire the contractor again next time, knowing full well that they are going to do the same exact thing.


  1. […] the most inefficient procurement systems I’ve ever seen. I’ve commented before on how federal acquisition laws primarily benefit contractors, but the inefficiency of these systems is […]

  2. […] Overhaul acquisition laws. Navigating the federal acquisition process is extraordinarily challenging. Companies that contract to the government often have dedicated personnel to navigate the process. The goal is to get “new to the government” people helping think about our projects. I’ve commented before on the backwards nature of the FAR. […]

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