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No More “Telegraph” and “Telegram” in the FAR?

On June 6, the Federal Register included proposed rules to remove references to “telegram,” “telegraph,” and other related terminology in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) and replace them with electronic options for communications.

These two forms of communication are outdated in our technologically driven world. A telegram is “a message sent by telegraph and then delivered in written or printed form” while a telegraph is “a system for transmitting messages from a distance along a wire, especially one creating signals by making and breaking an electrical connection.” Most, if not all of us communicate on very different platforms today. This seems like an obvious change to make and the proposed rule mentions this change assists in deleting “obsolete technologies.”

However, the change will possibly have ramifications on a few unexpected sections of the FAR.

The section with the most changes is in Part 49, Termination of Contracts. FAR 49.601-1 will gain a revised policy statement to allow electronic means to be used to notify contractors of a termination for convenience. Currently, the FAR reference includes indication of a “telegraphic notice procedure” which is outdated and logically not being followed when actual terminations occur. Other sections of FAR Part 49 will be updated for the change in terminology to more clearly indicate that electronic means for notifications are permissible.

Sections in FAR Part 14 and related clauses in FAR Part 52 related to bid openings will also be amended. Amendments to FAR Part 43, Contract Modifications, will allow contracting officers to issue change orders by electronic means without a SF 30 in certain circumstances if the electronic message contains substantially all the information required by SF 30, and the contracting officer takes action to issue the actual SF 30. Changes in a few other parts of the FAR are minor.

This rule will be applicable to all companies and will be a required flow-down clause for subcontractors. There should not be any undue administrative burden with this rule as there are no reporting requirements and most are already communicating electronically instead of by telegraph or telegram as the FAR currently requires for the affected parts. Anyone interested in commenting on the change has until August 5, 2016, to respond.

For any questions on how the proposed rule may affect you and your company, feel free to contact your Cherry Bekaert GovCon professional.

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