NOAA Acquisition Manual
The purpose of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Acquisition Manual is to prescribe NOAA policies to be followed in the acquisition of construction, supplies, and services. This policy supplements or implements the direction provided in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the Department of Commerce (DOC) Commerce Acquisition Regulation (CAR), the Commerce Acquisition Manual (CAM), Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) policies, and other agency regulations, statutory requirements, and orders. This manual does not seek to duplicate the detailed content of other sources of formal policy. Where such detailed policy has specific relevance to matters implemented herein, the manual will reference the source.
The issuance of the NOAA Acquisition Manual is in accordance with FAR 1.301(a)(2); CAR 1301.301(b) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO)208-1.
This document provides the acquisition policy established by the Bureau Procurement Official (BPO) for the procurement of construction, supplies, and services by NOAA AGO personnel. The policies set forth in the NOAA Acquisition Manual apply to all members of the NOAA acquisition team. The policies within the respective Parts indicate FAR, CAR, CAM, and other references. The user shall examine all relevant FAR, CAR, CAM, and other citations for any additional authorizations, restrictions, and policies that may be required.
A. The NOAA Acquisition Manual uses the same numbering system and arrangement used in the FAR and the CAR, except that the section or subsection being implemented is preceded with a 1330, the agency identification number assigned to NOAA, and a dash mark between 1330 and the number of the FAR section.
B. Where the NOAA Acquisition Manual implements the FAR it is numbered and captioned to correspond to the FAR. When the NOAA Acquisition Manual text implementing the FAR exceeds one paragraph, the text is numbered by skipping a level in the FAR 1.105-2(b) (2) prescribed numbering sequence. For example, two paragraphs implementing FAR 1.105-2(b) (1) are numbered 1330-1.105-2(b) (2) (A) and (B), rather than (2) (i) and (ii). Further subdivision of the NOAA implementing paragraphs would follow the prescribed sequence in FAR 1.105(b) (2).
C. In accordance with FAR 1.303, where there is no corresponding material in the FAR, Parts 70 and up are used by the NOAA Acquisition Manual. For example, the NOAA Acquisition Manual subsection 1.602-3 is numbered 1330-1.602-370. Supplemental text exceeding one paragraph is numbered using the FAR 1.105-2 (b)(2) prescribed numbering sequences.
D. Where the subject matter in the FAR requires no implementation, the NOAA Acquisition Manual contains no corresponding Part.
(b)(2) Subdivision numbering below the fourth level repeats the numbering sequence using italicized letters and numbers.
1. The NOAA Acquisition Manual and related documents referenced in this Acquisition Manual are posted on the NOAA Acquisition and Grants Office web page.
2. The NOAA Acquisition Manual is a living document. Any improvements and changes shall be made in order to make this manual current, accurate, complete, and as easy to follow as possible. This includes incorporating new policies and procedures contained in Acquisition Alerts, Acquisition Instructions, and NOAA’s Administrative Orders (NAOs).
3. The Bureau Procurement Official (BPO) provides direct oversight, control, and approval of proposed revisions.
(a)Views of agency personnel will be considered in formulating NOAA acquisition policies and procedures. Users may submit proposed revisions or identify any needs for clarification.
(b)Agency personnel shall submit written comments and suggestions directly to the point of contact for the Acquisition and Grants Office (AGO) Policy and Oversight Division (POD).
(a)(1)The contracting officer (CO) shall ensure that the program goals and objectives are the premise for any procurement. The CO's stewardship responsibilities to properly employ taxpayer money is important in balancing the mission and fiduciary duty. Finding the solution that accomplishes both responsibilities is the joint obligation of the Program Manager and the CO.
- Acquisitions are conducted in compliance with all requirements of law, executive orders, regulations, and all other applicable procedures, including clearances, approvals, and appropriation rules, and all actions and decisions are fully explained and documented.
- Contract files are complete and contain proper file documentation in accordance with the Contract File Checklist and no material discrepancies exist in contract file documents.
(a)(2) Other than those activities that are reserved for the contracting officer as evidenced by Standard Form (SF) 1402, Certificate of Appointment, the contracting officer may assign contract specialists to perform acquisition activities, including creating and developing all pre-award and post-award documents, conducting due diligence with prospective contractors, conducting contract negotiations, and conducting all other interactions with the contractors, other Government agencies, agency personnel, agency clients, and stakeholders.
(a)(3) See 1330-32.703-170 for NOAA Acquisition Policy on fully funding purchase requisitions for contract awards, options, minimum guarantees and modifications applicable to firm fixed price, cost reimbursement, time-and-materials, and labor-hour contract actions.
- The AGO Staff Services Management Division (SSMD) processes contracting officer’s representative (COR) re-certification for NOAA employees. See NOAA Federal Acquisition Certification (FAC)-COR Re-certification Procedures for more information.
- CORs shall request recertification by sending an application form to the FAC-COR Program Manager in the SSMD.
- CORs shall document all activities completed to earn the continuous learning points (CLPs) using the CLP Worksheet. Attach documentation to support the type of CLPs earned to the worksheet.
- The FAC-COR Program Manager shall inform the applicant and applicable Head of Contracting Office (HCO) and Line/Staff Office Acquisition Liaison by sending a signed Recertification Request Determined Unacceptable form that states submission of a new application package will be required when the applicant has completed the required CLPs.
- If the applicant has successfully substantiated that the 40 CLPs have been earned within the required 24-month period, the POD FAC-COR Program Manager will complete the endorsement in a Re-certification Request is Determined Acceptable and return the request form with the endorsement to the employee with a copy to the applicable HCO. The employee should retain the re-certification documentation with the original FAC-COR certificate to verify that the certification was properly maintained after issuance as required by OFPP and DOC.
- The employee’s failure to complete the required 40 CLPs or process the re-certification request within the applicable 24-month period will result in expiration of the FAC-COR certification. If the certification is allowed to expire, the employee will be required to submit a complete FAC-COR application package to apply for a new certification from DOC Office of Acquisition Management (OAM) under the then-current rules.
- CORs shall submit re-certification requests in sufficient time to be received by the SSD FAC-COR Program Manager no later than 30 days prior to the scheduled expiration date of the certification.
(b)(1) Upon becoming aware of an unauthorized commitment, the contracting officer shall investigate the circumstances and take corrective action. Unauthorized commitments are processed in accordance with CAM 1301.602 Section 3.
(b)(3) The NOAA Senior Bureau Procurement Official (SBPO) has delegated the authority for the review and approval of the ratification of an unauthorized commitment not exceeding $500,000 to the HCOs for each Acquisition Division. Approval for a ratification of an unauthorized commitment exceeding this amount shall follow the delegated authority within Appendix A of CAM 1301.70.
(b)(4) Each HCO shall:
- Maintain a log of all ratification actions, which shows: (i) originator of the ratification action, (ii) originator’s organization, and (iii) description of what was acquired, the date, the amount, and (iv) current status information,
- Provide a copy of the log to the BPO no later than the 15th of the month on a quarterly basis in January, April, July, and October, and
- Provide the Associate Administrator, and/or Deputy Associate Administrator (DAA) of NOAA Line Offices or Staff Office Directors with a report of cases of repetitive ratification actions by an individual or an organizational component.
- Ensure proper advice and assistance is obtained from the DOC Office of The Assistant General Counsel for Finance and Litigation (OGC) Contract Law Division (CLD) as needed.
(e) The SSMD processes contracting officer’s certification and recertification for NOAA employees. See NOAA FAC-C Recertification Procedures for more information.
- Request recertification by sending an application, FAC-Contracting Recertification Request form, to the FAC-C Program Manager in the SSD.
- Document all activities completed to earn the continuous learning points (CLPs) using the CLP Worksheet. Attach documentation to support the type of CLPs earned to the worksheet.
- If the applicant fails to do so within the required two-week time period, the SSD FAC Program Manager will endorse the Recertification Request Determined Unacceptable form and return the request form to the applicant with a copy to the HCO (or the AGO Field Delegate Program Coordinator and Line/Staff Office Acquisition Liaison for Field Delegates).
- If the applicant has successfully substantiated that the 80 CLPs have been earned within the required 24-month period, the POD FAC Program Manager will endorse the Recertification Request is Determined Acceptable form and return the request form with the endorsement to the employee with a copy to the applicable HCO (or the AGO Field Delegate Program Coordinator if the employee is a Field Delegate). The employee should retain the recertification documentation with the original FAC-C certificate to verify that the certification was properly maintained after issuance as required by OFPP and DOC.
- Submit recertification requests in sufficient time to be received by the SSD FAC-C Program Manager no later than 30 days prior to the scheduled expiration date of the certification.
- The employee’s failure to complete the required 80 CLPs within the applicable 24-month period will result in expiration of the FAC-C certification. An employee’s failure to process recertification request timely or in accordance with these procedures may likewise result in expiration of the FAC-C certification. If the certification is allowed to expire, the employee will be required to submit a complete FAC-C application package to apply for a new certification from OAM under the then-current rules.
(a) Appointment Authority
The HCA is a CO by virtue of their position. Other COs are appointed under FAR 1.603 and in accordance with DOC’s Contracting Certification and Warrant Program (CAM 1301.6). In accordance with that policy, the NOAA SBPO may delegate procurement authority to non-acquisition personnel known as Field Delegates (FD) through the issuance of a contracting officer warrant. The dollar limit of each individual warrant will be established at the discretion of the SBPO.
All NOAA Line and Staff Offices in which a FD is assigned shall comply with the requirements of this section, CAM 1301.6, and the directive entitled NOAA Field Delegate Procedures
(b) Contracting Certification and Warrant Program
DOC’s Contracting Certification and Warrant Program (CAM 1301.6) establishes criteria for the selection, appointment, and termination of appointment of NOAA COs. Selection and appointment of FD’s within NOAA will be determined based upon:
- The needs of the requisitioning office;
- Determination of workload;
- Fulfillment by the employee of all education, training, career level professional certifications and experience requirements set forth in CAM 1301.6;
- Completion of required specialized training pertaining to authority type requested(construction, architect and engineering, service contracting, etc.). Individuals fulfilling Simplified Acquisition training must demonstrate that the training received is relevant to the level of the proposed warrant authority and technical complexity for the contracting actions to be processed;
- Maintaining skills currency and FAC-C certification through continuing education or training as mandated in CAM 1301.6, Section 3.8, that requires 80 hours of continuous learning points to be earned every two years;
- Statement from the supervisor attesting to the nominee being in full compliance with the above requirements and recommending warrant appointment.
In accordance with DOC DAO 208-2, the SBPO has been delegated authority to select and appoint contracting officers and terminate their appointments. Only fully qualified employees will be delegated the authority to obligate the Department in the expenditure of public funds through the acquisition system. A warranted individual is considered to hold an inherently governmental position as a result of their ability to bind the government; therefore, contractor personnel are not authorized to be issued a contracting officer warrant.
Supervisors who wish to establish a FD in their organizations shall follow the procedures set forth in the directive entitled NOAA Field Delegate Procedures.
(d) Length of Appointment
Appointments expire two years from date of issuance unless evidence of refresher training and recertification/justification of need by the nominating official is submitted to the Policy and Oversight Division.
(e) Mandatory Experience and Education Requirements
In order to qualify for a contracting officer warrant, a FD nominee shall meet the minimum experience and education requirements specified in CAM 1301.6, Section 4, for a Level I warrant. Additionally, they must hold a FAC-C Level I certification to qualify for a warrant. Those certification requirements are set forth in CAM 1301.6, Section 3.
The one-year contracting experience requirement for warranting and FAC-C certification can be met by any, or a combination of, experience in the following areas and would be considered contracting-related experience for purposes of FAC-C Level I certification:
- Making micro-purchases using a Government Purchase Card, which involved obtaining quotes, comparing pricing, accepting delivery, etc.;
- Contracting Officer Technical Representative (COTR) experience on Government contracts;
- Completing on-site FD training in the servicing acquisition office preparing acquisitions to the point of signature by an AGO CO;
- Having prior experience as a purchasing agent or CO.
The FD nominee does not have to have performed the above activities on a full-time basis during the periods they were performing the work. The FD nominee must ensure that the employment element in their resume reflects all the applicable experience to be calculated toward the required one year of contracting experience.
A NOAA FD nominee shall supplement the DOC required experience by serving in a purchasing position within the appointing servicing acquisition office for a minimum of one week after being nominated but before appointment. The requesting office must send the nominee to their servicing AGO Acquisition Division for the experience training at the requesting office’s expense.
Upon completion of the on-site experience training and prior to appointment, the FD nominee shall prepare and forward all their acquisitions for approval and signature to their servicing Acquisition Division for a period of up to six months. The six-month timeframe may be shortened if during that period the HCO determines that the FD nominee can handle the work sufficiently independently to be warranted earlier and makes a written determination to that effect. Throughout the training, the HCO will maintain close coordination with the line office supervisor of the FD nominee in training so that the program office will be well informed of any developing issues.
Warranted FDs shall spend one week annually in a purchasing position in their servicing acquisition office for refresher acquisition and systems training and evaluation or will complete a minimum of 40 hours of other approved alternative training/developmental activities, such as participation in a NOAA-sponsored FD conference, completion of approved formal training, attendance at an approved industry conference, or participation in DOC/NOAA systems training. The SBPO is the approval authority for alternative refresher training/developmental activities.
The Department’s training requirements are found in CAM 1301.6, Section 3; warrant requirements are found in CAM 1301.6, Section 4.
To ensure adequate training is provided, the FD’s supervisor shall include the required training in the FD’s Individual Development Plan.
(g) Performance Plan
FDs shall have a critical element titled “Acquisition Management” weighted no less than 15% included in their annual performance plan for the duration of their warrant. That element shall include a requirement for the following:
- FPDS-NG Data Accuracy ensuring the complete, accurate, and timely reporting to FPDS-NG;
- Small Business Achievement, including small disadvantaged, women-owned, historically underutilized business zone, and service-disabled veteran-owned business goals.
(h) Suspension/Removal of Warrants
The SBPO or designee will suspend or remove warrants when sufficient reason to do so exists. Examples of actions that may lead to warrant suspension or removal include, but are not limited to the following:
- Audits that reveal unsatisfactory performance.
- Congressional inquiries that reveal unsatisfactory performance
- Protests that reveal unsatisfactory performance
- Statutory violations
- Lapse of FAC-C certification
- Failure to obtain skills currency training within prescribed timeframes.
- Failure to utilize CRequest/CAward.
- Failure to accurately complete and input FPDS-NG report
- Processing unauthorized commitments as other than ratifications
- Exceeding delegated procurement authority
- Splitting requirements to stay within delegation of authority or avoid more stringent acquisition processing requirements.
(i) Files Maintenance and Disposal
Contract files shall be set up, maintained, closed out, and disposed of in accordance with AGO policies and FAR Subpart 4.8 requirements. The AGO Field Delegate Coordinator is the point of contact regarding these issues.
The Policy and Oversight Division (POD) will conduct internal post-award audits on FD acquisitions including those actions utilizing the Purchase Card.
Audits of each FD’s files will be performed every two years and will consist of a review of approximately 50% of the awards and modifications processed within the 12 months preceding the audit. The percentage of files reviewed may be adjusted if warranted.
The NOAA requiring office must provide funding for travel by the POD to the client’s site to conduct the audits. Audits may be conducted more frequently if unusual and compelling circumstances require them.
An in-brief meeting will be conducted with appropriate client personnel to discuss audit objectives and methods used for the review. Upon completion of the review, an out-brief will be conducted to address the review findings including strengths and any areas of concern or needing improvement.
The POD will prepare and issue a formal audit report within 30 working days after completion of the audit and require the client to respond to the audit findings within 30 days after receipt of the report.
The appointing official may terminate a FD appointment at any time. The terminated warrant document shall be returned to the appointing official upon termination. Warrants shall be terminated in accordance with CAM 1301.6.
If an FD leaves NOAA through reassignment, resignation, transfer to another agency or retirement, or is reassigned within NOAA to a position that does not require a warrant, that warrant becomes null and void and the warrant document must be returned to the appointing official.
(a) While the contracting officer is responsible for determining how to acquire supplies and services, the conduct of the acquisition process, and execution of contracts, NOAA program/requisitioning offices are responsible for decisions about the requirements for what is being acquired. Program/requisitioning offices are organizations within NOAA that are responsible for planning and managing agency acquisitions to meet mission needs; providing funding documents and budget estimates; designating program managers; nominating individuals as CORs, alternate CORs, and points of contact/order contact to the contracting officer; ensuring training and certification requirements are met and maintained; and building productive working relationships with contracting officers to communicate program office concerns and issues.
(b) Contracting officers rely on many other organizations for support during the acquisition process. Program managers, including those designated as CORs, interpret and provide recommendations on all technical matters. The program manager is the technical expert for overall planning and management of the technical aspects of the acquisition involving scope, budget/cost, performance, quality, and deliverables. The program manager works through productive mutual interaction with other organizations and end users to maintain progress and reduce risks. The program manager is responsible for the following:
- Initiating a new project or essential changes in a current project and communicating that need to the contracts staff,
- Overseeing and managing all aspects of a single acquisition or a single program involving multiple acquisitions greater than $10 million in value, from requirement development through receipt, acceptance, and closeout of contract. Every program manager shall satisfy the training requirements detailed in CAM 1301.671, Program and Project Manager Certification Program,
- Leading the Integrated Project Team (IPT), which consists of all individuals involved in the acquisition and is responsible for making programmatic decisions regarding the acquisition(s) and keeping NOAA management informed of progress, developments, and problems throughout the lifecycle of the acquisition. The program manager develops the IPT charter, which identifies the team’s purpose, composition, roles, responsibilities and authorities, scope, and deliverables,
- Conducting market research,
- Preparing any Justification for Other Than Full and Open Competition,
- Developing the specifications and completing the Requirements Package and applicable portions of the acquisition plan, including work statement and evaluation criteria,
- Providing and coordinating approvals required by the program office,
- Identifying known sources,
- Providing documentation to support the PR (i.e., identification of funding source), justifications (when applicable), and the independent Government cost estimate,
- Participating in technical evaluations, cost analyses, and negotiations,
- Serving as the COR during contract performance to monitor the contract from a technical and financial standpoint, evaluating the contractor’s performance, and conducting inspection and acceptance when applicable, and
- When performing Construction and Architect-Engineer services, serving as the COR and the evaluating official in accordance with FAR 36.604(a)(2) and (3).
(c) The Office of General Counsel Contract Law Division (OGC CLD) is responsible for providing legal counsel, review, and concurrence for contracting actions identified in DAO 208-5, Contracting (Procurement) Review and Approval Requirements, Section 3, Legal Review.
(d) The POD provides guidance/recommendations on acquisition policy matters and provides pre-award and post-award review services. The POD is responsible for the following:
- Reviewing contractual files/documents in accordance with Part 1330-70,
- Ensuring that contractual documents requiring higher-level management approval are in accordance with applicable regulations, policy, and guidance prior to BPO approval, and
(e) Budget/Finance Office (FO). The LO/SO Budget Office manages funds and attests to proper use of funds in accordance with federal appropriations law. The FO is responsible for the following:
- Providing payment/collections involving vendors and intergovernmental organizations (contracts, orders, Interagency Agreements, etc.),
- Providing financial reporting and accounting services to NOAA, and
- Providing financial advice and recommendations as requested by NOAA acquisition personnel.
(f) The Department of Commerce, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), is responsible for promoting and facilitating small, small disadvantaged, 8(a), women-owned, economically disadvantaged women-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, and HUBZone small businesses as federal Government contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. In accordance with FAR 19.201(d), the NOAA Small Business Officer is responsible for advising the AGO on the development, evaluation, and implementation of Federal and Commerce small business policies and regulations. An Acquisition Division Small Business Specialist, appointed by the HCO, coordinates specific small business activities with the NOAA Small Business Officer. Policy guidance for the implementation of the NOAA small business program is set forth in Part 1330-19 and the NOAA AGO Small Business Program Standard Operating Procedure.