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Happy 40th Birthday to the FAR!

Happy 40th Birthday to the FAR!

Birthday card with Happy 4oth Birthday Celebrating the FAR at 40 and a picture of a cake with candles on it.
Mr. John Krieger

April Fools’ Day, April 1, 2024, marked the 40th Birthday of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). It was on that day, 40 years earlier, that the FAR became effective, April 1, 1984. 

If you were in an executive agency at the time, it meant that you gave up whatever regulation you were using (e.g., Defense Acquisition Regulation, Federal Procurement Regulation, NASA Procurement Regulation) and adopted the FAR.

I was a contracting officer with the Air Force at the time, so I gave up the DAR. Six years earlier, I had given up the Armed Services Procurement Regulations (ASPR), the DAR’s predecessor, which was in effect from 1948 to 1978. 

The FAR was a long time in development. The Commission on Government Procurement reported in 1972 that it found "a burdensome mass and maze of procurement and procurement-related regulations*' within the federal government, and "no effective overall system for coordinating, controlling, and standardizing regulations.”

Congress enacted the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act Amendments of 1979 (P.L. 96-83), which amended the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act (P.L. 93-400) to authorize the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), with the concurrence of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to "issue policy directives ... for the purpose of promoting the development and implementation of the uniform procurement system." In 1980 OFPP released Policy Letter 80-5, "Federal Acquisition Regulation System; Other Procurement Rules and Regulations," which effectively established the "Federal Acquisition Regulation System" and set the ball rolling on the creation of the FAR. But it wasn’t until September 19, 1983, that the Final Rule creating the Federal Acquisition Regulation was published in the Federal Register. (See Federal Register: 48 Fed. Reg. 41749 (Sept. 19, 1983). | Library of Congress (loc.gov)).

The FAR had growing pains in the beginning. And it continues to grow, most recently with the addition of FAR PART 40—INFORMATION SECURITY AND SUPPLY CHAIN SECURITY.

For those interested in more information about the FAR, see the Congressional Research Service’s The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR): Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (congress.gov), updated December 18, 2015.