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What is Government Contracts Law?

Government contracts law is comprised of all the statutes, cases, rules, regulations, and procedures with which any company must comply to do business with the government (whether municipal, state, or federal). Both small and large businesses contract with government entities -- in fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers resources to help small businesses obtain contract work -- but some contracts require large businesses in order to produce on a large scale. In any event, businesses contracting with the government face rules and regulations in virtually every aspect of making, performing, and eventually terminating a contract with an agency or department.

Since the set of laws and regulations covering government contracts is immense, complex, and constantly changing, it's usually in your best interests to contact an attorney specializing in government contracts law early in the process. Many of these rules were put in place to avoid favoritism and to give all bidders fair access to be awarded a contract. Additionally, the competitive bidding process is intended to ensure the lowest price for certain goods.

Terms to Know

  • Appropriation: In governmental accounting, an expenditure authorized for a specified amount, purpose, and time.
  • Bid Protests: The General Accounting Office (GAO) forum for bidders seeking federal government contracts who believe that a contract has been (or is about to be) awarded in violation of the law.
  • Comptroller General: The accounting officer of the U.S. who investigates financial claims against or on behalf of the government.
  • Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FARs): Regulations established to codify uniform policies for acquisition of supplies and services by executive agencies.
  • General Accounting Office (GAO): The federal government office that carries out legal, accounting, auditing, and claims settlement functions with respect to government programs and operations.

How an Attorney Can Help with Government Contracts

When a business sells goods or services to a government agency, the government always has the "home-court" advantage, since its own peculiar laws and rules apply to the contract. Despite this advantage, many small and large businesses have done extremely well selling to the government year after year, typically through the help of attorneys with expertise in government contract law.

Related Practice Areas

Find a local attorney practicing government contracts law in FindLaw's legal directory.

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