We have been made aware that the NYS Education Department has been reviewing school districts’ procedures surrounding the use of funds granted under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Part of their review is ensuring district policies comply with Uniform Guidance (UG) with regard to the procurement process. As such, a district’s purchasing policies should:
1.) Incorporate the same policies and procedures used for procurements made with non-Federal funds for its procurements made with federal funds.
2.) Maintain records detailing the history of procurement. The records maintained should include the rationale for the following, but not limited to:
- Procurement method,
- Procurement type,
- Contractor selection, and
- Basis for the price of the contract.
3.) Maintain oversight to ensure that contractors perform in accordance with the terms, conditions, and specifications of their contracts or purchase orders.
4.) Maintain written standards of conduct covering conflicts of interest and governing the actions of its employees engaged in the selection, award and administration of contracts.
Note: There should be specific wording stating that employees cannot participate in the selection, award, or administration of contract if there is a real or apparent conflict of interest.
5.) Create procurement procedures that help to avoid acquisition of unnecessary or duplicative items. Consideration should be given to consolidating or breaking out procurements to obtain a more economical purchase.
Tip: Include these standards in the purchasing policies and procedures.
6.) Award contracts only to responsible contractors possessing the ability to perform successfully under the terms and conditions of a proposed procurement. Consideration will be given to matters such as contractor integrity, compliance with public policy, a record of past performance, and financial and technical resources.
7.) Use time and material contracts, only after a determination that no other contract is suitable and ensure the contract includes a ceiling price that the contractor exceeds at its own risk.
8.) Conduct procurements in a manner that prohibits the use of statutorily or administratively imposed state, local or tribal geographical preferences in the evaluation of bids or proposals, except in those cases where applicable Federal statutes expressly mandate or encourage geographic preference.
9.) Have written procedures for procurement transactions that ensure all solicitations:
- Incorporate a clear and accurate description of the technical requirements for the material, product, or service to be procured.
- Identify all requirements which the offerers must fulfill and all other factors to be used in evaluating bids or proposals.
10.) Ensure that all prequalified lists of persons, firms, or products which are used in acquiring goods and services are current and include enough qualified sources to ensure maximum open and free competition.
11.) Use one of the following methods of procurement:
- Small purchase procedures;
- Sealed bids;
- Competitive proposals; and
- Noncompetitive proposals.
12.) Have a written method for conducting technical evaluations of the proposals received and for selecting recipients.
13.) Take all necessary affirmative steps to assure that minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms are used when possible.
14.) Include in all contracts made by the District the applicable provisions contained in Appendix II of the Uniform Grant Guidance — Contract Provisions for Non-Federal Entity Contracts Under Federal Awards.
15.) Perform a cost or price analysis in connection with every procurement action in excess of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, including contract modifications.
16.) Negotiate profit as a separate element of the price for each contract in which there is not price competition and, in all cases, where an analysis is performed.
17.) Comply with the non-procurement debarment and suspension standards which prohibit awarding contracts to parties listed on the government-wide exclusions list in the System for Award Management (SAM).
Nicholle Mezier, CPA, MBA
Nicholle is a Manager of Cerini & Associates’ audit staff where she brings experience in audit, review, and consulting services to our general business, nonprofit and special education clients. Nicholle has worked with a large number of nonprofit clients, predominantly focusing on social service providers, healthcare providers, foundations, educational institutions, and arts and culture organizations. Nicholle’s technical knowledge allows her to provide specific services, including financial statement audits, internal and claims audits, and nonprofit outsourced accounting services. Nicholle has also contributed to the firm’s various newsletters.