Sneak Preview: Revised Guidance Includes Procurement Categories

Jerry Ashworth
August 28, 2020 at 14:56:43 ET
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(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in issuing final guidance on Aug. 13 to revise the uniform guidance, updated the procurement provisions in the existing guidance by establishing new categories for the different types of procurement methods, and included new provisions giving preference to domestic purchases.

OMB’s revisions to the uniform guidance (2 C.F.R. Part 200) are part of an overall update to guidance contained in Title 2, Subtitle A, of the Code of Federal Regulations. The revisions are the culmination of the required five-year review of the guidance, as stated at §200.109.

The issuance of the uniform guidance revisions comes seven months after OMB published proposed revisions in January and reviewed thousands of comments submitted in response to the proposal. The general effective date of the revised guidance is Nov. 12, and it becomes specifically effective for awardees as federal agencies implement the changes into their regulations (§200.110(a)). However, two provisions — §200.216, Prohibition on certain telecommunications and video surveillance services or equipment (which is explained later in this article), and §200.340, Termination — became effective immediately as of Aug. 13.

The revised guidance adds new details to the “Methods of procurement to be followed” provision (§200.320) in an attempt to respond to more than 100 comments OMB received on changes to this section as proposed in January. The introductory sentence to the provision has been extended to state that, “The nonfederal entity must have and use documented procurement procedures, consistent with the standards [in §§200.317-200.320] for any of the following methods of procurement used for the acquisition of property or services required under a federal award or subaward.”

The section then divides the procurement methods into three categories — “informal” (i.e., micro-purchases and small purchases), “formal” (i.e., sealed bids and proposals (not “competitive proposals” as addressed in the existing uniform guidance)) and “noncompetitive procurement.” Informal methods (§200.320(a)) can be used “to expedite the completion of transactions and minimize the associated administrative burden and cost” when the value of the procurement for property or services under a federal award does not exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (which currently is $250,000 per the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) at 48 C.F.R subpart 2.1) or a lower threshold established by a nonfederal entity. The Subpart A definition of “simplified acquisition threshold” in the revised guidance would not include a dollar amount as referenced in the existing uniform guidance.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time here.)

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