Government agencies have procedures that they must follow in order to be in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. Your business is required to learn and observe the procedures of every agency that you contract with.
The process begins with Congress. Composed of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, these are the elected officials who vote on and enact the legislation that eventually become laws. After Congress enacts a law, regulatory government agencies take the legislation and begin compiling it into the volumes of regulations and procedures with which governmental agencies and businesses have to comply.
The following steps outline how an idea goes from becoming a bill introduced in Congress to being an agency-level procedure:
- Step 1: The idea is introduced into Congress where it is assigned a number and becomes a bill and goes before the appropriate congressional committee.
- Step 2: If it makes it through committee, both houses of Congress vote on the bill. It must pass by a majority to move on in the process.
- Step 3: After Congress approves the bill, it is sent to the president to be signed. If the president vetoes the bill, it takes a 2/3 majority from Congress to override the veto.
- Step 4: After the bill becomes a law, regulatory agencies begin the process of defining how to comply with the newly enacted law.
- Step 5: Individual agencies adjust their procedures so that they comply with the current regulations.
Under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), regulatory agencies create the rules and regulations required to comply with the actions of Congress. These include major legislation, such as the Clean Air Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) are three of the major regulatory agencies. These are agencies established to oversee and implement the laws that were passed by Congress and signed by the president. Their job is to ensure that each governmental agency be in compliance with these laws. They do this by issuing regulations that become the procedures for each agency to follow.
These regulatory agencies have the power to enforce U.S. companies to comply with regulations. They have the authority to fine you, sanction you, force you to close your business doors, and even jail you for not following government regulations. Hence, compliance is essential when working with governmental agencies.
The U.S. government established The Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) as a way to bring uniformity to the purchase of supplies and services by those executive agencies who use appropriated funds. The procurement executives of the Department of Defense, General Services Agency, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration revise FAR regularly in order to keep it in accordance with current laws and regulations.
The Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002 (SBPRA) requires each agency to appoint a contact person to work as an intermediary between the government agency and the small businesses that the agency contracts. These contacts are public record, and you can find a listing for each government agency at www.business.gov.
When working with a government agency, your company must comply with all applicable federal government regulations. To do this you can consult one of various federal regulatory agencies. These agencies publish small business guides that answer questions about regulations and can help your company meet the terms of the regulations that pertain to agency-level procedures.
The Web site www.regulations.gov is the perfect place to research the various federal regulations. Another invaluable tool is the Federal Register, which is a daily publication of rules and regulations as they relate to different agencies and organizations.
If you are having problems complying with overly strict government regulations, the Small Business Ombudsman (SBO) might be able to help. Learn more by reading Contesting Unfair Government Regulations.