Effective September 1, 2020
This policy governs the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System's (Board's) acquisition of goods, services, and real property for use in conducting the operations of the Board as approved in the Board's budget or by a program change request. When used in conjunction with the Board's Delegations of Administrative Authority,1 the Procurement Manual for Technical Personnel, the Supplier Diversity policy, the Small and Disadvantaged Business Acquisition policy, and the Contracting for Services policy, this policy is intended to foster efficiency and effectiveness in the acquisition process, and help the Board acquire the highest-quality goods, services, and real property within the time required and at the best possible value. These objectives are achieved by
- using competitive acquisition methods to the maximum extent practicable;
- making awards only to responsible vendors;
- considering a variety of factors, such as product quality, reliability, dependability, and life-cycle price, in determining which offer provides the best value to the Board;
- providing vendors with a fair opportunity under competitive acquisition methods; and
- fostering fair and equitable relationships between the Board and its vendors.
Acquisition means the Board's purchase of goods, services, or real property for use in conducting the operations of the Board as approved in the Board's budget or by a program change request. It includes all functions pertaining to the purchasing process, including the description of requirements, the solicitation and selection of sources, the award of contracts and purchase orders, and contract administration.
Contract means any type of written agreement, regardless of form, for the acquisition of goods, services or real property.
Contract administration means the oversight of a contract by the contracting officer or the contracting officer's representative in order to ensure that a contractor meets all terms, conditions, and requirements of the contract.
Contracting officer (CO) means a Board employee who has the required delegated authority to sign contracts on behalf of the Board.
Contracting officer's representative (COR) means an authorized representative of the CO who is acting within a scope of authority as delegated by the CO.
Micro-purchase means an acquisition of supplies or services, the total cost of which does not exceed the micro-purchase threshold.
Micro-purchase threshold means $10,000.
Program change request means a significant change to the Board's programs.
Purchase card (P-Card) purchases means acquisitions made with P-Cards by Board employees authorized by their division or office.
Purchase order means a short-form contract document between the Board and a vendor that is produced from the Board's automated procurement system.
Responsible vendor means a vendor who, in the Board's opinion, possesses the skill, ability, integrity, and financial and other resources necessary for the complete performance of the work and who has complied with all required qualifications set forth in a request for quotation (RFQ) or a solicitation, offer, and award (SOA).
Services mean the furnishing of labor, time, or effort by a vendor but does not include construction or the furnishing of supplies.
Solicitation, offer, and award (SOA) means the Board's solicitation for a proposal and terms for performance, which becomes the contract when the Board's CO countersigns the SOA form of the vendor who is selected to perform the work. The SOA may contain language that incorporates the vendor's proposal into the terms of the contract.
Statement of work (SOW) means the document that describes and defines the work activities and deliverables a vendor must provide in order to successfully perform the contract. The SOW may also include the time frames for performing the work. If an SOA is used as the contract, the SOW is part of the SOA. An SOW may be one section of an SOA, or its own standalone attachment to a purchase order.
Supplies mean property, except for real property. Supplies include furniture and equipment.
The Board's procurement authority. The Board is authorized to procure goods, services, and real property under section 10, paragraphs 3 and 4, of the Federal Reserve Act (12 USC 243 and 244). The Board's expenditures are not "acquisitions" as that term is defined by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (see 48 CFR 2.101). This policy also follows section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376 (2010).
Delegation of procurement authority. Delegation of procurement authority within the Board is outlined in the Delegations of Administrative Authority. On the basis of the delegations, the chief operating officer (COO), chief financial officer (CFO), and chief acquisition officer (CAO) have the authority to procure goods, services, or real property for use in conducting the operations of the Board as approved in the Board's budget or by a program change request. This authority may be further delegated. Except as stated below, all contracts must be initiated, finalized, and administered by the Procurement Function (Procurement) in the Division of Financial Management:
The CAO re-delegates to staff in the Research and Legal libraries who are authorized to procure books, periodicals, data, and other materials (including electronic resources) the authority to make such purchases without further review or approval by Procurement and without regard to the procedures set forth in the "Acquisition Guidelines" section below, provided that the total cost of any individual purchase does not exceed $50,000 in any contract year. Purchases shall not be artificially divided to permit the use of this delegated authority.
The CAO re-delegates to staff who are authorized to use P-Cards the authority to purchase items under their P-Card limits and consistent with the Board's P-Card Procedures. Any contracts resulting from purchases made with a P-Card will be administered by the acquiring division or office, unless the acquiring division or office requests that Procurement execute the purchase under its P-Card authority, in which circumstance Procurement will be responsible for administration of the contracts arising from such use.
As set forth in the Delegations of Administrative Authority, procurements by the Board's Inspector General, when the Inspector General has determined that operational necessity warrants, are not subject to further review or approval and are not subject to the procedures set forth in the Procurement Procedures. In all other circumstances, however, procurements for the Office of Inspector General shall follow the Board's Procurement Procedures.
The Board prefers to acquire goods and services through open and fair competition, using one of the standard acquisition methods listed below, because that process is generally the most reliable way of ensuring that the Board is obtaining the highest quality goods and services for the best available prices. Thus, one of the standard acquisition methods must be used unless the conditions for a non-competitive purchase are met. To foster use of competitive methods, the term of a contract (including all options to renew) may not exceed 60 months unless the CAO determines that exceptional circumstances apply. All acquisitions must also adhere to the Board's Procurement Procedures. Procurement actions shall not be artificially divided to avoid any of the required reviews set forth in this Acquisition policy or the Procurement Procedures.
The Legal Division must review all procurement actions whose value exceeds or is expected to exceed $200,000 in any contract year, with the following exceptions:
- Legal Division review is required for any contract, regardless of expected annual cost, whose terms address copyrights, patents, or other intellectual property rights, indemnification obligations, application of foreign law, or waivers or disclaimers of liability.
- Legal Division review is not required for justification memorandums for certain non-competitive methods of acquisition as noted below.
- Legal Division review will occur as noted below for specific types of procurements.
- Legal Division review for procurement actions may be requested by Procurement regardless of expected annual contract cost or acquisition method when Procurement deems such review to be beneficial to the Board's interests.
A. Standard Acquisition Methods
The Board's standard acquisition methods for obtaining the highest quality goods and services for the best prices include the following methodologies. Before purchasing a good or non-hourly priced service using standard acquisition methods 5 and 6, the Board shall conduct market research to determine whether the good or non-hourly priced service is available under standard acquisition methods 2 or 3 that best meet the Board's needs in terms of price, quality, and time of delivery. Before purchasing an hourly priced service using standard acquisition methods 5 and 6, the Board shall conduct market research to determine whether the hourly priced service is available under standard acquisition method 3 that best meets the Board's needs in terms of price and quality.
Micro-purchase procedures. This process may be used when goods and services have a total cost at or less than the micro-purchase threshold. Informal price and/or quality comparisons are encouraged but not required. Procurements at or less than the micro-purchase threshold should generally be made by P-Card to minimize the Board's administrative costs. Procurement actions shall not be artificially divided to meet the micro-purchase threshold.
Acquisitions from the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Schedule or other federal/governmentwide contract or schedule. This method may be used when a vendor has a contract or schedule to sell goods and/or services to the federal government that is listed on the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Schedule (GSA Schedule). The CO may purchase goods or services listed on another federal agency's contract or governmentwide contract or schedule, provided the Legal Division has determined that such contracts or schedules operate in a manner that is consistent with the GSA Schedule.
The Board may purchase the goods and services listed on such vendor contract or schedule without considering other vendors, except when the Board is purchasing services that are priced hourly. For services that are priced hourly, the CO should, in conjunction with the Contracting for Services policy, attempt to obtain at least three quotations and select a vendor whose quotation is most advantageous to the Board, considering price and other factors. The CO may negotiate for pricing or other contract terms more favorable than what is listed in the government schedule or contract.
For administrative convenience, the CO may add items not on the contract or schedule only if
- the purchase of the items not on the contract or schedule meet another acquisition method stated in this policy, and
- the total price for the items not on the contract or schedule and the schedule items does not exceed the price of the schedule items alone, or the CO has determined that the price for the items not on the contract or schedule is fair and reasonable, and
- all clauses applicable to the items not on the contract or schedule are included in the order.
Acquisitions from a competitively selected contractor of the National Procurement Office, National Information Technology Office, Office of Employee Benefits, or Federal Reserve Bank(s) (each an "entity" for purposes of this paragraph). The CO may purchase goods or services from a contractor selected by one of the entities, provided that
- it is a current contractor of the entity who was selected through a competitive process that is consistent with the Board's competitive selection process under this policy (i.e., subsections 4 or 5, below);
- the goods or services the Board obtains from the entity's contractor are substantively the same as or a subset of those provided under the entity's contract; and
- the entity's contractor will provide such goods and/or services to the Board at the same or lower (unit or prorated) prices or the CO has determined that the price for the goods and/or services is fair and reasonable.
The contractor shall also agree to include all terms and conditions the Board deems necessary for its contract with the entity's contractor. "Substantively the same" means the goods and/or services provided to the Board will materially be the same as those provided to the entity, and the terms under which they are provided to the Board comply with the legal requirements applicable to the Board.
Other competitive methods for certain best value procurements. In addition to the methods set forth above, the following services may be competitively procured under the methods described hereunder.
Agreements for conferencing or hotel space. For agreements with hotels or other facilities for hotel/conference space and related services (e.g., catering) with costs exceeding the micro-purchase threshold per event, Procurement will check availability, capacity, and other requirements and attempt to obtain pricing from at least three providers based on written requirements from the acquiring division or office.
Procurement shall work with the acquiring division or office to select the provider that offers the best value when weighing such factors as availability, space, price of the services, and the Board's budget for the event. The selection shall be documented and explain the basis of the best value determination. The CAO will review such determination for any event whose cost exceeds $100,000. Additionally, if the cost of any event will exceed $200,000, Legal Division review of the agreement is required. The CAO will submit a summary of all agreements for conferencing or hotel space to the CFO every six months.
Agreements for professional legal services. In addition to using any of the standard acquisition methods listed above in paragraphs A.1 through A.3 of this section, the CO may acquire professional legal services that the General Counsel or Inspector General deems necessary through a best value determination of qualified offerors identified by the Legal Division or Office of Inspector General. The basis of such determination must be documented and may include consideration of the price of the services, level of experience and expertise, general reputation or reputation in the specialized legal practice, availability to perform the services in the time required, and past performance.
Use of an SOA document is not required to solicit proposals from law firms or legal professionals for these types of agreements; however, prior to soliciting proposals, an SOW should be developed in order to generate consistent responses from offerors.
Formal bidding. Formal bidding is the process of requesting that vendors submit sealed bids for goods or services. Formal bidding may be used when the quality, characteristics, or other aspects of goods or services to be acquired are so standard that no technical evaluation is needed. The contract is awarded to the lowest priced, responsible vendor whose bid meets all the terms and conditions of the request for bid.
Negotiated procurement. Negotiated procurement is the process of considering price and other evaluation factors, such as technical ability, to determine which vendor represents the best value to the Board. Negotiated procurement commonly uses an RFQ or SOA to facilitate competition among vendors who are believed to be qualified to perform the work. The CO should attempt to obtain at least three quotations or proposals. This method should be used when other standard acquisition methods are not applicable or when there are tradeoffs in the quality, price, vendor support, timeliness, and reliability of the goods or services being acquired. The contract shall be awarded to the responsible vendor whose quotation or proposal is most advantageous to the Board, considering price and other factors.
B. Non-Competitive Methods
Despite the Board's preference for using competition to determine contract awards under the standard acquisition methods described above, special circumstances may exist where goods or services must be acquired through alternate methods.
The following alternative methods describe the special circumstances under which the Board may procure goods or services with limited or no competition. Except for methods 7 through 14, the facts and circumstances supporting the alternative method must be documented in a justification memorandum and approved in accordance with the Board's Procurement Procedures, before the contract is awarded.
Sole source. This method may be used when goods or services are economically available from only one responsible vendor and no other type of good or service will satisfy the Board's requirements. Extending the scope or term of an existing contract under this method is permissible only if it can be shown that award to another vendor is likely to result in substantial duplication of cost to the Board, and that those costs are not expected to be recovered through competition.
Procurements made under this method must be requested by the director of the division or office (or their delegate2) that is funding the procurement and will be permitted only if approved by the Procurement Assistant Director (PAD) in consultation with the CAO. Legal Division review is required when the procurement exceeds $200,000 in any contract year. However, if the CFO (or their delegate) makes a request of any amount and is funding the procurement or if a request that exceeds $200,000 in any contract year is made by the General Counsel (or their delegate), the COO must decide whether a sole-source contract award is appropriate.
Exigency. This method may be used when the need for the goods or services is of such an unusual and compelling urgency that the Board could incur material risk, financial loss or injury if standard acquisition methods were used. Lack of advance planning in performing market research or initiating a standard acquisition method does not justify an exigency purchase. Further, even when an exigency circumstance is established, the term and scope of the exigency-based contract should be minimized to the length of time that mitigates the Board's immediate risks. Ongoing need for goods or services after the exigency period should be accomplished under a standard acquisition method unless another non-competitive purchase method is approved. Procurements made under this method must be requested by the director of the acquiring division or office (or their delegate) and decided under the same rubric as set forth for sole source requests.
Acquisitions using a non-competitively selected contractor of the National Procurement Office, National Information Technology Office, Office of Employee Benefits, or Federal Reserve Banks(s) (each an "entity" for purposes of this paragraph). When the Board is purchasing the same goods or services as obtained by one of the entities through a non-competitive process and the PAD has determined there is a need for substantial similarity between the Board and the entity in the use of those goods or services, the Board may acquire such goods or services from the contractor selected by the entity without further competition, provided the contractor is a current contractor of the entity. The CO may purchase goods or services from a contractor selected by one of the entities, provided that the goods or services the Board obtains from the entity's contractor are substantively the same as or a subset of those provided under the entity's contract and the entity's contractor will provide such goods and/or services to the Board at the same or lower (unit or prorated) prices or the CO has determined that the price for the goods and/or services is fair and reasonable. The contractor shall also agree to include all terms and conditions the Board deems necessary for its contract with the entity's contractor. Legal Division review is required when the procurement exceeds $200,000 in any contract year. Procurements made under this method must be requested by the director of the acquiring division or office (or their delegate) and decided under the same rubric as set forth for sole source requests.
Research materials and information-service subscriptions. Divisions or offices may procure without competition research materials and subscriptions to information services and publications that contain unique editorial content or that provide compilations of data or information in a way or format that the acquiring division or office deems necessary to fulfilling its business functions. Procurements made under this method must be requested by the director of the acquiring division or office (or their delegate) and decided under the same rubric as set forth for sole-source requests, except that Legal Division review of the justification memorandums for these procurements, regardless of cost, is not required. Note that Legal Division review of the contract terms is required for research materials and information-service subscriptions that exceed $200,000 in any contract year and for subscriptions of any amount that address intellectual property rights, indemnification obligations, or other subject matters that dictate such review under section (b) of the Acquisition Guidelines, above.
Experts and neutrals for litigation. The COO, on behalf of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the general counsel, on behalf of the Legal Division, may approve non-competitive procurement of services from experts or neutrals (such as mediators or arbitrators) determined necessary to assist in the analysis, preparation, presentation, defense, or resolution of actual or reasonably anticipated litigation or dispute in which the Board is, or is likely to be, a party.
Directed purchase. Occasionally, due to rare circumstances, an acquiring division or office may find it necessary to acquire goods or services without competition for situations other than those listed as non-competitive methods 1 through 5, above. In those situations, requests and justifications for a directed purchase must be in writing and requested by the director of the division or office (or their delegate) funding the procurement.
Except for procurements requested by the Division of Financial Management and the Office of the Chief Operating Officer, the CFO is authorized to approve directed purchases whose total contract value (i.e., the total cost of the contract including all option periods) does not exceed $250,000. All requests by the Division of Financial Management must be decided by the COO. The COO is authorized to approve directed purchases up to a total contract value of $1,000,000, provided that prior notification has been given to the Administrative Governor for any directed purchase whose total contract value exceeds $250,000.
All requests from the Office of the Chief Operating Officer and requests whose total contract value exceeds $1,000,000 must be decided by the Administrative Governor. In addition, the CAO will submit a summary of all approved directed purchases to the Administrative Governor every six months. Additional limitations for a directed purchase are outlined in the Procurement Procedures.
Agreements between the Board and one or more of the Federal Reserve Banks. Legal Division review of these agreements is required, regardless of the expected annual cost, to ensure that the Board's legal requirements for the goods and/or services received are met. This procurement method should not be used to avoid the Board's preference for competitive acquisition under a standard acquisition method or to avoid documenting the procurement under an applicable non-standard method set forth in paragraphs B.1 through B.6, above.
Agreements with other federal, state, or local government entities (such as interagency agreements, memoranda of understanding, or memoranda of agreement). Legal Division review of these agreements is required, regardless of the expected annual cost, to ensure that the Board's legal requirements for the goods and/or services received are met. This procurement method should not be used to avoid the Board's preference for competitive acquisition under a standard acquisition method or to avoid documenting the procurement under an applicable non-standard method set forth in paragraphs B.1 through B.6, above.
Acquisitions with Federally Funded Research Development Centers (FFRDC) that are congressionally established and governed and managed as per the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) part 35.017. The Board may procure without competition services from a FFRDC if it is determined that the selected FFRDC meets some special long-term research or development need that is integral to the mission and operation of the Board. Procurements with the selected FFRDC shall be requested by the director of the division or office (or their delegate) funding the procurement and will be permitted only if approved by the PAD. Legal Division review is required when the procurement exceeds $200,000 in any contract year.
Agreements with visiting scholar(s) or subject-matter expert(s). Services to speak at official Board events are obtained by letter agreement and must be for an amount under $15,000 per event. Total amount per calendar year per scholar or expert shall not exceed $50,000 and includes any reimbursement for travel costs associated with the event(s) that are approved by the COR in accordance with the Board's Travel policy. Legal Division review of these agreements is not required.
Detail agreements. These services involve the temporary assignment of Board employees to another governmental entity or of another governmental entity's employee to the Board. The agreement covers matters such as the term and purpose of the detail, who has responsibility for compensating the detailed employee, and how the employee's performance will be evaluated. Consultation with other divisions in regards to these agreements may be required. Legal Division review of these agreements is required, regardless of the expected annual cost.
Purchase or lease of real property. When real property is purchased or leased pursuant to the Board's Relocation policy, the procedures thereunder apply, and there is no competition requirement or additional approval process imposed by this Acquisition policy. All other purchases of real property require approval by the Board of Governors. Leases of real property that do not arise from the Board's Relocation policy and whose initial-lease-term cost exceeds $1,000,000 must be approved by the CAO in consultation with the General Counsel (or their delegate) and be in compliance with the Board's Procurement Procedures.
Memberships and training. When the Board's participation in a group or organization incurs a membership fee, approval from the director of the acquiring division or office (or their delegate) of the employee(s) who will be representing the Board's interest in such group or organization is necessary if such group or organization is selected without using a standard (competitive) acquisition method. When a Board employee attends training provided by an outside party and incurs a fee that is paid by way of a purchase order or P-Card issued by Procurement, approval from the director of the acquiring division or office (or their delegate) of the employee is required. This procurement method should not be used to avoid the Board's preference for competitive acquisition of on-site training for Board employees under a standard acquisition method or to avoid documenting the procurement under an applicable non-standard method set forth in paragraphs B.1 through B.6, above.
Purchase of artwork or artwork framing for the Fine Arts Program. For the purchase or commissioning of artwork or artwork framing for the Fine Arts Program, there is no competition requirement imposed by this Acquisition policy. Procurements made under this method must be requested by the director of the Fine Arts Program and approved by the director of the division of office (or their delegate) funding the procurement, and will be permitted only if approved. The PAD is authorized to approve the purchase of artwork or artwork framing if the total cost of the contract is under $200,000. All requests that exceed $200,000 require Legal Division review and CAO approval.
A. Roles and Responsibilities
The Procurement Function shall document the acquisition process in the contract file as per the requirements in the Board's Procurement Procedures.
The division or office funding the contract must designate a COR to act as the CO's representative to perform specific functions under awarded contracts. The COR normally represents the CO in administering technical and program details within the scope of the contract. If more than one division or office is funding a contract, the CO will designate the COR.
Any employee designated as a COR must take a Board-sponsored or Board-approved course on COR responsibilities prior to designation as a COR. Board-sponsored training is valid for three years. The employee must maintain a current training certificate while designated as a COR.
The COR is responsible for keeping the CO apprised of the status of the contract, for performing necessary inspections, and for accepting goods or services. The COR reviews invoices and decides whether to approve them for payment. The COR is required to maintain all documentation needed to support payments and contractor performance.
The COR is not authorized to make any representations or commitments of any kind on behalf of the CO or the Board. The COR does not have the authority to alter the contractor's obligations or change the terms and conditions of any contract. Any changes to a contract, including a modification or change order, must be issued in writing and signed by the CO. Penalties for violating this Acquisition policy are outlined in the Procurement Procedures.
B. Release of Acquisition Information
Information concerning proposed acquisitions may not be released to any vendor except through the Procurement Function or with the CO's prior consent. If information concerning proposed acquisitions is inappropriately provided to vendors and the vendor would obtain an unfair competitive advantage over other vendors, the vendor receiving such advantage may be disqualified from being awarded the contract.
Until an award is made, any information contained in bids or proposals and other information concerning the award shall not be released to any person except Board staff directly involved in the evaluation and selection process. Additionally, where technical ability is being considered in addition to price, the bidders' price proposals may not be viewed by any member of the technical evaluation panel prior to the establishment of all bidders' technical rating. After an award is made, information may be disclosed if required under the Freedom of Information Act or other applicable law.
C. Reporting of Anticompetitive Practices
Whenever the Procurement Function or other individuals involved in the procurement process have reason to believe that collusion or any anticompetitive or fraudulent or unlawful practice has occurred, a written notice of the relevant facts should be sent to the Board's Office of Inspector General.
D. Ethics Issues
For ethics issues such as conflicts of interest, refer to the Board's Ethical Conduct policy or contact the Board's designated agency ethics official.
E. Knowledge of Acquisition Policy, Procedures, and Related Guidelines
All Procurement Function staff, division or office administrators, CORs, and authorized users of P-Cards should have a thorough understanding of the Board's Acquisition policy, Procurement Procedures, P-Card Procedures, as well as other related policies, including the Board's Ethical Conduct policy, the Small and Disadvantaged Business Acquisition policy, and the Supplier Diversity policy. Failure to comply with such procedures and policies may result in disciplinary actions. The Procurement Function will offer periodic training for all CORs on the Acquisition policy and Procurement Procedures.
The acquiring division or office will work with the Procurement Function to draft, review, and approve the SOW and any other description of the product and/or services to be acquired. The COR will be responsible for ensuring that the appropriate review within the acquiring division or office has been conducted.
A. Standard for Developing Specifications
Plans, drawings, specifications, standards, purchase descriptions, and "brand-name or equal" descriptions for acquisitions should seek to promote economy and encourage competition in satisfying the Board's needs and should not be designed for the purpose of steering work to a particular vendor.
B. Required Contract Clauses
Clauses addressing the following issues must be included in all Board contracts, unless the Board's CAO has expressly waived the Board's rights regarding such issues. The general contract provisions set forth the standard language that should be included in the contract; however, if the vendor to whom the contract will be awarded requests non-substantive changes to such language, the CO may make such changes if they deem the changes to be reasonable and within the business interests of the Board.
The CAO, in consultation with the Legal Division, may make substantive changes to these clauses or may expressly waive the Board's rights regarding any of the following issues if the CAO determines that the business risk of making the change or waiver is outweighed by a compelling business need to award a contract on such terms:
- Termination for convenience
- Default termination
- Indemnification and liability limits
- Governing law and jurisdiction
- Funding and payment
The Division of Financial Management, Procurement Function, administers this policy. This policy will be reviewed and updated as needed.