FAR on the Web
by Sherri Gross
ASC/PK decided not to continue the SEARCHmate contract which provided FAR on-line to the contracting community. Because of this, many people may be wondering how they can have on-line access to the FAR. Now, thanks to the latest technology and the explosion of Internet usage, that access is available to anyone with the ability to surf the net.
There are two websites that I'm aware of which provide access to the FAR. If you know specifically which part of the FAR you need to look up, you can go to GSA’s website for the FAR. To get there, simply enter http://www.gsa.gov/far/ as the web address. When the page comes up, it will state the most recent FAC which is posted.
Although GSA’s website contains the FAR by parts, you must navigate through several screens to arrive at a very specific part. FARSite bypasses this requirement by providing GSA’s complete inventory (mirrored) on one screen. This provides a very quick and simple method of navigation. If a user needs to move to a different section of the FAR or FARSite, even a different supplement, they can readily access it from the same single screen. All parts, subparts, FACs, DACs, IPLs, etc. are also offered at the top and bottom. Each screen is also consistant with the next.
For example, let's say you want to look up some of the changes in buying commercial items and need to view FAR 12. There are a couple of things to do in order to get there. The first is to double-click on selection for "Parts 1 - 53 Table of Contents." For some reason, this will take you to the end of the next document so you'll need to scroll or page up through the entire table of contents until you get to the individual parts which are displayed in blue. Keep scrolling up until you find Part 12 and double-click on it. If all has gone well you should now be at the beginning of FAR 12 and able to view it sequentially.
However with all of the changes due to Acquisition Reform, some things have been moved and you may not know where to find the information you're looking for. This is where the searchable FAR databases maintained by AFMC Contracting Laboratory at Hill AFB is invaluable.
There are several ways to access "The Air Force FARSite". One way is to enter http://farsite.hill.af.mil/ as the web address. It is also a link on the AFMC/PK Home Page as well as the ASC/PK Home Page (via "Contracting Tools.") Although this site allows you to view each part of the FAR, the search capability is what's really exciting.
Now let's suppose that you want to read about Liquidated Damages which used to be in FAR 12.2. Where did it go?
When you enter this site, the page that comes up has several options, one of which is a "FARSearch". This is a large block in the middle of the screen. Double-click on this and you're ready to begin searching. First select which database you want to search from the white box on the right. HINT: It defaults to ALL REGS in the window. The default is a database which includes every FAR regulation on FARSite. If you are concentrating only on the FAR, this is where you can choose FAR 90-40 which is a database of only the FAR current through FAC 90-40. Type in the phrase liquidated damages (it's not necessary to use quotation marks) and then hit the ENTER key on the keyboard or click on "Search."
There are 10 documents referenced as a result of this search. The results are listed alphabetically according to FAR Parts with each result listing 3 options as follows:
1. o FAR Part 11
[ View Matches ] [ Highlight Matches ] [ Show Document ]
NOTE: If you did not get the above, exactly, recheck instructions and the database chosen.
Clicking on [ View Matches ] will provide an idea of the context for each match within each subpart. In this example, the matches are in FAR Parts 11, 19, 22, 36, 49 and 52. By clicking on [ View Matches ] for each FAR Part, it shows that the references most closely resembling the former FAR 12.2 are now in FAR 49. The easiest thing to do is to click on [ Highlight Matches ] which will bring up the complete text of FAR 49. From there, click on the red down arrow t to the right of the blue globe. This action will bring you immediately to the first occurrence of your search. On my screen the matches are in bold text with red arrows ? on each side of the phrase. Now we know that FAR 49.402 and 49.404 deal with liquidated damages and terminations. If you're looking for another type of match, keep repeating this process until you find it. NOTE: In the very near future, FARSearch will provide a direct link from the [ View Matches ] context listing to the exact point in the document without having to use [ Highlight Matches ].
With the move toward a "paperless" acquisition in action, more and more of our contracting tools will be found on the Internet. Hopefully this has provided some insight into coping with modern technology and acquisition reform changes at the same time.