Federal law imposes particular requirements on the use of federal grants. This Procurement Policy is designed to ensure that Carroll University (“Carroll”) complies with those requirements. Individual federal grants may contain further requirements that are unique to those grants and in addition to the requirements of this Policy. It is therefore important for Principal Investigators to work closely with the Business Office and the Grants and Research Office to ensure compliance with the requirements of each grant.
This policy is consistent with Final Guidance issued by the Federal Office of Management and Budget on December 26, 2013 and effective as of December 26, 2014, amended by Implementing Statutory Changes to the Micro-Purchase and the Simplified Acquisition Thresholds for Financial Assistance dated June 18, 2018. Additionally, pursuant to the September 10, 2015, update from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the University has elected to adopt these new standards as of July 1, 2018.
A. Ethics and Conflicts of Interest (200.318(c)(1)
Carroll employees involved in expenditure of federal grant funds must avoid any actual or apparent conflict of interest. Employees may not derive any personal financial or other benefit from any contract or transaction using federal grant funds. This prohibition includes parents, children (biological, foster, and/or adopted) and siblings, as such close relationships could give rise to an appearance of conflict. In addition, contractors or consultants who draft bid specifications or requests for proposal on Carroll’s behalf are thereby disqualified from bidding on those opportunities. While contractors or consultants are not automatically disqualified from other opportunities, care must be taken to ensure that their work for the University does not give them unfair advantage over competitors.
Carroll employees may not accept kickbacks, rebates, gratuities or other gifts or tokens of appreciation from vendors paid through federal grants. Rebates and discounts to Carroll are permitted provided they 1) comply with all applicable law, 2) provide a direct benefit to Carroll, 3) result from an arm’s-length negotiation, which is fully documented in the file, and, 4) are consistent with vendor’s standard pricing or discounting policies.
Failure to comply with these requirements may result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
The individual schools and departments of Carroll may not bid on contracts offered by other schools or departments if such bidding would create an actual or apparent conflict of interest, create an appearance of favoritism or interfere with free and open competition with bidders from outside the University.
To avoid conflict or the appearance of conflict, contractors or consultants and affiliates who prepare specifications, statements of work or other material portions of requests for proposal are excluded from bidding on the underlying work.
Suspected or observed violations of this Policy shall be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs. Carroll strictly prohibits retaliation of any type or nature against anyone for making such reports in good faith. Immediately report any observed or suspected retaliation to the Office of Academic Affairs and/or to Human Resources as appropriate.
B. General Requirements ((200.318 (d-g)
The following requirements are applicable to all procurement transactions, regardless of size.
Procurement transactions shall be conducted in a lawful and ethical manner.
Unnecessary/duplicative purchases are not permitted (and are not reimbursable expenses).
In collaboration with the Business Office, Principal Investigators are responsible to ensure contractor performance in accordance with their contracts or purchase orders.
• Consider leasing versus purchasing;
• Enter into agreements to share common goods or services with other educational institutions, non-profit organizations or governmental entities;
• Use Federal excess or surplus property in lieu of new purchases;
• Consider breaking purchases into smaller consignments, or consolidating purchases, if doing so will produce lower pricing or greater value.
All procurement transactions must be conducted in a manner providing full and open competition. Federal grant regulations set aside preferences required by state or local law, unless the grant or applicable Federal law expressly mandate or encourage observance of such preferences. Federal preemption does not apply, however, to state licensing laws.
In order to ensure objective contractor performance and eliminate unfair competitive advantage, contracts that develop or draft specifications, requirements, statements of work, or invitations for bids or requests for proposals must be excluded from competing for such procurements. Situations considered to be restrictive of competitions include but are not limited to:
• Placing unreasonable requirements on firms in order form them to qualify to do business;
• Requiring unnecessary experience and excessive bonding;
• Noncompetitive pricing practices between firms or between affiliated companies;
• Noncompetitive contracts to consultants that are on retainer contracts;
• Organizational conflicts of interest;
• Specifying only a “brand name” product instead of allowing “an equal” product;
• Any arbitrary action in the procurement process.
To further ensure free and open competition, all solicitations shall:
• Incorporate a clear and accurate description of the technical requirements for the material, product, or service to be procured. Features or requirements that unduly restrict competition are not permitted. “Brand name or equivalent” descriptions may be used as a means to define the performance or other salient requirements of procurement. The specific features of the named brand to be met by offers must be clearly stated; and
• Identify all requirements and all factors to be used in evaluating bids.
• Ensure that all prequalified lists of persons, firms, or products used in acquiring goods and services are current and include enough qualified sources to ensure maximum open and free competition. No potential bidder shall be barred from submitting during the proposal period.