DoD Seeks New Commercial Buying Rules

May 3, 2012

They are three words that for years have been puzzled over, debated and occasionally abused. But U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) language that permits purchases to be considered commercial if they are "of a type" similar to items available for sale in the private sector may be facing its most serious challenge yet.

The Defense Department has proposed striking the language from the FAR, the guiding document for all government acquisition, as part of a batch of legislative suggestions sent to Congress at the end of March. While the precise number of contracts considered commercial across the federal government under "of a type" classification is unknown, critics fear the proposal could have a chilling effect on the government's ability to access commercial technologies.

The DoD says the change could help combat pricing issues in the agency for what are supposed to be non-DoD-specific items, issues that are facing greater scrutiny as the agency begins the process of making deep spending cuts. 

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