After 10 years of debate, the government yesterday published new procurement guidelines to consolidate and simplify the hodgepodge of rules that now dictate how private companies sell their products to federal agencies.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation, commonly called FAR, technically doesn't create any new regulations, Joseph R. Wright, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, explained yesterday.
Rather, it is a streamlined version of the government's three existing procurement regulations--the Defense Acquisition Regulation, the General Services Administration's Federal Procurement Regulations and the NASA Procurement Regulations.
Under FAR, which takes effect April 1, 1984, about 64,000 pages of the current regulations have been condensed into one uniform policy that filled 695 pages of yesterday's Federal Register. The new version cuts the number of regulations by 65 percent, according to Wright.
The concept behind FAR, officials said, is to create a standard procurement policy for all agencies. FAR will become Title 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations and each agency will be required to list its own regulations there.
The listing should enable federal contractors to locate and "understand all of the rules" quickly, officials said, and will also allow the OMB to ride herd on agencies to make sure they comply with FAR.
One controversial section of FAR dealing with patent rights wasn't published yesterday because federal agencies can't agree on what rights big businesses should have if they make a discovery while doing government-funded research.
In 1980, Congress passed legislation that said universities, non-profit groups and small businesses could retain title to inventions they discovered with government funds.
President Reagan later issued an executive order that expanded patent rights to all federal contractors. But the Defense Department, the Energy Department and NASA have disagreed with the Commerce Department over how much latitude big businesses should have. The matter is expected to be settled by late December.