By Attorney Tamara Dunlap, Senior Counsel

Government contract law permits people, businesses, the government and other entities to enter into legally enforceable promises with each other. While all contracts must follow the basic rules of contract formation and consideration, federal, state and local government contracts are treated differently and special rules apply to them.

There are two main bodies of law that govern federal, state and local procurement in the Commonwealth of Virginia: the Federal Acquisition Regulations (“FAR”) and the Virginia Public Procurement Act (“VPPA”). These are by no means the only two acts that regulate government procurement but they are the starting point for most of these types of procurements.

What are their purposes regarding a government contract?

The purposes of the FAR and VPPA regarding bidding on a government contract are similar – they each provide a set of uniform purchasing policies regulating governmental procurement (federal, state or local) from nongovernmental sources thus ensuring that government procurements are conducted in a fair and impartial manner.  The length and breadth of the FAR and VPPA make it impossible to identify each difference between the two in this post and really, the differences in the two will not be an issue when bidding on federal, state or local procurement.


Is there any cross-over?

If a company elects to bid on a government contract with a state or local entity in the Commonwealth of Virginia, unless subject to some enumerated exemption or the entity has adopted its own regulations (as permitted under the VPPA), the VPPA will govern that procurement and subsequent contract.  In certain instances, federal laws will also apply depending on the type of procurement (e.g. Affordable Care Act, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act).


Final Takeaway

If a company is instead doing business with a federal government entity, then the FAR will most likely dictate the rules of the government contract.  What is important to remember is not what the differences are between the FAR and VPPA, but whether a company understands the applicable procurement law and can comply with those laws, whether it be the FAR or VPPA.  The failure to follow those laws can range from disqualification of a bid to debarment of a contractor.  For this reason it is important to have a skilled and knowledgeable attorney involved.


Learn more about the federal regulations here.

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Posted in: Government Contracts

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