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FAR Subpart 8.4 vs. FAR Part 15 Blog Feature
Marissa Sims

By: Marissa Sims on July 8th, 2024

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FAR Subpart 8.4 vs. FAR Part 15

Government | 5 Min Read

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is a comprehensive document containing acquisition policies and procedures for federal agencies. Two common acquisition methods outlined in the FAR are Subpart 8.4 and Part 15. Both parts 8.4 and 15 are used for acquiring goods and services, leading to confusion over which guidance to follow. For instance, some procurements could be handled under either regulation, depending on the complexity and particular needs of the agency.

Many GSA Schedule contractors get the two parts confused, but it’s important to understand the differences so you are aware of how agencies can purchase from your Schedule. Having a complete understanding of the acquisition procedures will help you with compliance and maximize your opportunities in federal contracting. In this blog, we will discuss the similarities and differences between FAR Subpart 8.4 and FAR Part 15 by examining how each part compares in process, requirement, and application.

What is FAR Part 8.4?

FAR 8.4 outlines the ordering procedures that federal agencies must follow when placing delivery or task orders against GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts, also referred to as the Federal Supply Schedules. This acquisition method is used when commercial products and services are solicited through the MAS program.

FAR Subpart 8.4 operates under an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract framework, where task and delivery orders are placed against an established contract vehicle. These contracts are pre-negotiated, removing the need for agencies to independently determine if prices are fair and reasonable. In other words, the purpose of Subpart 8.4 is to simplify the acquisition process.

Far Subpart 8.4 addresses the following ordering procedures from GSA Schedules:

What is FAR Part 15?

Conversely, the procedures agencies must follow when ordering open-market items that exceed the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT) are outlined in FAR Part 15. This Part is used when the requirements for specialized goods and services cannot be filled from GSA Schedules or other pre-established contracts.

FAR Part 15 outlines the policies and procedures for managing both competitive and noncompetitive negotiated acquisitions. It also includes regulations regarding the source selection process and pricing. A price or cost analysis is needed under FAR Part 15 since these are negotiated procurements.

As a GSA schedule contractor, agencies will follow procedures specified in FAR Part 15 when procuring the products or services not covered under your GSA contract. FAR Part 15 is typically used when there is a stand-alone contract. It is designed to handle more complex requirements, including customized solutions, unique services, and high-value projects.

How Are FAR Subpart 8.4 and FAR Part 15 Different?

When comparing FAR Subpart 8.4 and FAR Part 15, the key factors could help you distinguish between the two regulations.

Procurement Procedures

Unlike FAR Part 15, Schedule orders under Subpart 8.4 do not require:

  • Conducting a formal negotiated procurement
  • Issuing a solicitation for a pre-determined amount of time
  • Conducting competition by seeking contractor outside of the GSA MAS program
  • Conducting formal discussions or briefings

Solicitation Format

Under FAR Subpart 8.4, fair opportunity is a large element. This means when the needs are above the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, agencies issue a Request for Quote (RFQ) on GSA eBuy or send it to as many GSA Schedule contractors as practicable to ensure at least 3 quotes will be received. Alternatively, multiple or single-award Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) can also be established.

When submitting an offer under FAR Part 15, contractors respond to Requests for Proposals (RFPs). If accepted by the government, these RFPs result in stand-alone contracts, either single or multiple-award. RFPs under FAR Part 15 typically have a minimum requirement of 30 days. These solicitations contain rules for source selection evaluation process, including cost/technical tradeoffs and pricing rules and procedures.

Types of Contracts Under FAR Subpart 8.4 and FAR Part 15

The types of contracts that can be formed under FAR Subpart 8.4 are limited to Firm-Fixed-Price, Time & Material, and Labor-Hour contracts. In addition to the contract types allowed under FAR subpart 8.4, Part 15 also includes all fixed-price contracts, cost-reimbursement contracts, incentive contracts, and letter contracts.


Under Subpart 8.4, you only compete against other schedule holders with the same Special Item Number (SIN) awarded. Alternatively, solicitations under FAR Part 15 are open to all qualified vendors.


Under FAR Part 15, both commercial and non-commercial products and services can be purchased. Under FAR Subpart 8.4, only commercial services are allowed to be procured from pre-vetted contractors through the MAS program.

Staying Updated on GSA Schedule Regulations

As a consultant, I know firsthand that many contractors are not acquainted with all the provisions outlined in FAR Part 8.4 and FAR Part 15. Becoming familiar with federal acquisition regulations will make it easier to navigate the government contracting world. You’ll have a better understanding of what’s required of you as a GSA contractor, and if you respond to an open market solicitation you understand how the rules are different. If you want to learn more about FAR regulations related to your Schedule, check out our blogs:

To stay in the loop about updates and changes to these regulations, you can subscribe to our blog and monthly newsletter. If you need help managing compliance and regulations for your GSA Schedule, we would be happy to assist you.

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About Marissa Sims

Marissa Sims is a Lead Consultant for Winvale. She is originally from Washington, DC and is a graduate from St. Mary’s College of Maryland Public Honors College, with a degree in International Language and Culture.