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CHAPTER 2 - General Contracting Information

To help you determine whether the goods and services your firm provides are pertinent to ED’s needs, here are a few facts about a “typical” procurement year (figures based on fiscal year 2001):

More than $1 billion in new awards and modifications representing nearly 6,000 contract actions are made annually.

About 80 percent of these contracts are with business firms and the rest with nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.

About one third of these firms are in the preferential programs listed in Chapter 3.

In line with ED’s mission, the scope of its work is technically- and performance-based rather than hardware- or product-oriented.  For FY 2001 more than 90 percent of the Department’s contract dollars were awarded for research, technical assistance, automated data processing, and other services.

Those seeking to contract with ED should be familiar with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). The FAR establishes policies and procedures to be followed by all Federal agencies when purchasing supplies and services. The FAR is found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 48, Chapter 1 (48 CFR 1). It is supplemented by the Education Department Acquisition Regulation (EDAR), which is found at 48 CFR, Chapter 34.  The information presented in this chapter is intended to acquaint individuals briefly with the basic process.

Identification of the Requirement

Typically, the procurement process is initiated when a particular program office identifies a requirement and develops an acquisition plan with the procurement office.  The assigned contracting officer, in consultation with the small business representative and the project officer, will then make several key decisions.  One of these is whether the required supplies or services are available from other government sources, such as a General Services Administration (GSA) supply depot, or if they may be purchased from authorized suppliers listed on a GSA Federal Supply Schedule.  If so, the contracting officer must generally acquire the items directly from the depot or from suppliers on the schedule.  Thousands of common articles (office equipment and supplies, for example) are included on the Federal Supply Schedule.  Firms interested in getting their products or services on a Federal Supply Schedule should visit GSA's Getting on Schedule site.

Acquisitions valued at under $100,000 are procured under simplified acquisition procedures in accordance with FAR Part 13. Micro-purchases (less than or equal to $2,500) may be made with the Government Purchase Card.

Another important decision is whether the procurement should proceed under one of the preference programs described in Chapter 3 of this publication, such as setting the procurement aside for the exclusive participation of small business. The appropriate method of conducting the procurement, either by the use of sealed bidding or negotiation, is also selected at this time.

Doing Business with the Department of EducationPage 8 of 21

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