Each small business desiring to conduct business with the Federal Government
must do so in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation ("FAR").
The relevant parts of the Regulation for small businesses are Part 19
(Small Business Programs) and Part 52 (Solicitation Provisions and Clauses).
Part 19 implements the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 631, and determines
how the Federal Government sets aside aquisitions for small businesses.
Part 52 provides definitions and explains how the FAR clauses should be
read within the contract with the Federal Government. The Federal Government
is required to set aside a portion of its procurement toward small businesses.
The only remaining question will be which business will get it.
One of the first issues for small businesses when dealing with the Federal
Government is sealed bidding. The Government utilizes this method of procurement
in simple purchases. Under FAR 14.101, sealed bidding is a 'method
of contracting that employs competitive bids, public opening of bids,
and awards.' Sealed bidding has well settled rules and formal procedures
which must be followed to allow for equal opportunity to compete.
Under FAR 6.401, Contracting Officers shall solicit sealed bids if:
- time permits the solicitation, submission and evaluation of sealed bids;
- the award will be made on the basis of price and other price-related factors;
- it is not necessary to conduct discussions with the responding offerors
about their bids; and
- there is a reasonable expectation of receiving more than one sealed bid.
In addition, the Federal Government must make an affirmative finding that
the lowest bidder has the capability to perform the contract (responsible
The Federal Acquisition Regulation sets out complex rules governing the
Federal Government when it comes to procuring goods and services from
small businesses. It is designed to provide transparent, equal, and fair
opportunity for all competitors, but it also places requirements on small
businesses which may result in a loss of the contract and liabilities
if not followed. If you are a small business requiring assistance in ensuring
that you comply with Parts 19, 52, or any of the other 51 parts of the
FAR, schedule a free appointment with the
Federal Practice Group to discuss your objectives and requirements.