If you’re a contract or proposal manager working in US federal programs, you’ll know the importance of the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) and DFAR (Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations). And contractors working on army contracts also review AFARS (Army Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement).
You need to carefully review certain FAR clauses for compliance, especially those concerning OCI (Organizational Conflict of Interest), Security, and Intellectual Property.
Prime contractors also need to manage any flow-down clauses that apply to their sub-contractors. And sub-contractors need to clearly understand what flow-down clauses apply. Contract managers manually comb through and review the clauses. While many FAR clauses are benign, a good number need careful review. All told a very time-consuming, but critical process.
NOTE: For the rest of this post, we’ll just refer to FARs, but the same concepts apply to DFAR and AFARS reviews. We’ll also just refer to Contract Managers, but Proposal Managers and Proposal Coordinators also review FARs.
To do this, contract managers will create a type of FAR requirements matrix, often using a spreadsheet. This allows you to track compliance with the FAR mandates. The FAR requirements matrix is a critical tool. It often dovetails into a responsibility matrix, sometimes called a RACI matrix.
Contract managers can spend days during the course of larger contracts extracting, updating, and maintaining the FAR requirements matrix by hand.
Can you automate this process? And move from several hours to a few minutes to create the matrix? Turns out you can, and our customers are doing it. Here are some considerations:
- How are FAR clauses manually identified?
- Can these clauses be automatically flagged?
- What kind of time savings can you expect?
If you’re a contract manager, program manager, or proposal manager, automation will change how you do things. It drives dramatic efficiency and helps avoid missing critical clauses that could damage your organization. Read on.
1. How are FAR clauses manually identified?
When it comes to checking FAR clauses by hand, you’ll likely follow these steps:
- Open the doc in PDF or MS Word
- Search for the specific FAR clause using standard ‘find’.
- Check if any hits are using the search box. If you find any, copy and paste the relevant paragraph of text into a spreadsheet.
- Repeat steps 2 & 3 until you’ve checked all the clauses.
Many FAR clauses are standard and tend not to change. Or they may simply be benign. These are typically pretty easy to identify as they have a fairly uniform structure in the RFP paperwork.
However, contractors pay particular attention to certain clauses including;
- Conflict of Interest FAR clauses,
- IP (Intellectual Property) FAR clauses,
- Security-related FAR clauses,
- Any flow-downs.
These same considerations apply to DFARs and AFARS too. So in your spreadsheet, you likely have a column titled ‘Must Review’ which serves to communicate any requested changes to these types of clauses. For example, when one of our customers sees “52.227-14” connected with Rights in Data, they always request Alternative IV.
2. Can these clauses be automatically flagged?
Yes. VT Docs does this in three simple steps. Let me walk you through them:
- Upload your contract document to VT Docs
- Use a FAR search dictionary. NOTE: In the context of VT Docs, a search dictionary allows you to specify multiple search terms. For example, let’s say you want to find all FAR clauses, you define a search term of “52.*”.