Big news in the hashtaggovcon world: Hill AFB’s FARSite to go away on October 1, 2019.
It’s been accessed online more than 2.3 billion times since its launch in mid-1996. But on Sept. 30th of this year, it will be retired.
The “it” is the popular and functional FARSite search engine, maintained by Hill Air Force Base near Ogden, Utah, and it is going to be “transitioned” into the FAR search site at Acquisition.gov effective Oct. 1, 2019.
This news was recently released on the FARSite in a tersely-written two-sentence announcement: “FARSite.hill.af.mil is being actively transitioned to Acquistion.gov. FARSite will be available in the current location through 30 Sep 2019.”
Unofficial But Useful
While the FARSite is widely used by acquisition officials in both government and industry sectors, it never was regarded as the “official” site for the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and agency FAR supplements. Instead, it was regarded as the authoritative source for the Air Force FAR Supplement (AFFARS) only. The FAR search engine at Acquisition.gov, maintained by the General Services Administration (GSA), holds the title of the “official” FAR website.
Despite its unofficial status, FARSite has been popular because of its functionality. For instance, FARSite provides the ability to search both the FAR and any agency’s FAR supplement simultaneously. This contemporaneous searching functionality enables users to see search results from two or more sources displayed side-by-side, a feature especially useful when researching the application of a specific FAR provision or clause in a particular agency’s solicitation or contract.
It is not known at this time whether the simultaneous search capability will be integrated into Acquisition.gov. There is no information about the transition on the Acquisition.gov website. Currently, Acquisition.gov only allows for searching of the FAR and the GSAM — the General Services Acquisition Regulation. The site provides a list of each of the other FAR supplements, hyperlinked to individual agency websites. Some of these links lead to general agency websites where further searching is necessary, and where the links lead directly to an agency’s FAR supplement, the information is presented in non-uniform formats (e.g., HTML and PDF).
For many years, the FARSite published monthly usage reports. In the last month, these data were published — July 2017 — over 12 million hits were recorded, comprised of over 3 million individual page views by 53,000 unique visitors. Military branches made up the bulk of the users in that month but, notably, visitors from GSA and Lockheed Martin appear on the Top 25 users list.
The status of another useful feature of the FARSite is unknown in the transition to Acquisition.gov, namely the integration of Class Deviations to the FAR. Currently, the text on the FARSite includes a display of DoD Class Deviations where they are applicable to a particular provision or clause. No such cross-reference appears at Acquisition.gov.
The fate of the FARSite has been in question for more than a year. On Jan. 3, 2018, the webmaster for FARSite retired. At that time, the following message was posted: “For now FARSite will continue as you see it. However, due to new AF policies, FARSite’s location will eventually change which introduces unknows that could impact the site in the future. If you have any issues, concerns or opinions as to the sites direction contact USAF SAF/AQC.” Faced with many questions following that announcement, a new message was posted on Mar. 1, 2018: “The FARSite team remains committed to updating the site and providing accurate, current, and complete postings of the FAR and its many supplements. If you have any questions feel free to contact the FARSite Webmaster at Hill.Farsite@us.af.mil.”
Despite that statement last year, it appears that the plug will be pulled on the FARSite this year at midnight, Sept. 30th.