The United States of America has some of the most convoluted and complicated regulation practices in the world, which is just one of the reasons why starting a new business is such a difficult task. New companies must immediately comply with literally thousands of rules and procedures to stay up and running without legal trouble. The bigger a business grows, the more complicated it gets.
Government contracts law is the umbrella that hangs over all those rules and regulations for businesses that buy or sell to the U.S. government.
A government contracts attorney is one of the first steps new business owners should take, because they can help ensure that all relevant laws are being followed. It might seem like a money-saving venture to do it alone, but mistakes are easy to make when there are so many relevant legal codes that cannot be broken.
Not only that, but the regulations in question are always evolving — with every new municipal, state or federal election, laws are changed or new ones are added. The result is a nightmare for business owners (and pretty much everyone else, but that’s another story).
Here are a few legal terms you should know before deciding if your business requires the services of a government contracts attorney.
Appropriation expenditures are those made for government accounting purposes. These expenditures usually occur at set intervals, and the dollar amount usually won’t change during a contract.
Bid protests occur when a contract may or may not violate laws. One business will dispute another business’s claim by making a bid protest.
The General Accounting Office (or GAO) will perform all accounting or auditing claims for government programs.
Federal Acquisitions Regulations (or FARs) are the set of rules that determine what the government will or won’t buy, including both products and services. FARs give businesses a decent idea of what they can sell and for how much.
If a business owner decides to take on a government contract, he or she should keep in mind that it is a serious decision and that there’s no wiggle room for making mistakes either small or large. It’s also important to know that the rules for how and what a business owner sells and for how much are all written by those to whom you’re selling: i.e. the government. That means the government will probably end up with the better end of the deal.
Even so, many businesses do very well for themselves by keeping the government as a buyer — because, let’s face it, the government is a reliable buyer. Once a business is in, it’s in.