Usda contracting officers warrant guidelines

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United States Department of Agriculture Office of Procurement and Property Management

Issued: January 30, 2012 Revision A: April 30, 2012 Revision B: July 8, 2013 Revision C: November 18, 2013 Revision D: April 1, 2014 Revision E: May 4, 2018

Procurement Advisory 100 E

USDA Contracting Officers Warrant Guidelines

This Procurement Advisory provides information concerning appointment of warranted Contracting Officers, the scope of warrant authority, and the consequences of exceeding or inappropriately using warrant authority.

Authority to enter into contractual relationships and commit the Government to the expenditure of public (taxpayer) funds is a delegated authority, which must be delegated in writing to the individual. Unless otherwise authorized by the Senior Procurement Executive (SPE) in writing, the Head of Contracting Activity (HCA), and Mission Area Senior Contracting Official (MA-SCO) if delegated, is/are the agency's appointing officials for Contracting Officers. The HCA and/or MASCO shall determine if the appointment is consistent with applicable requirements of the Agriculture Acquisition Regulation (AGAR), the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and other delegations of authority.

Employees with delegated warrant authority are the only individuals legally authorized to bind the Government by executing contracts and signing determinations and findings required by the FAR. USDA is committed to ensuring that only highly qualified individuals are authorized to obligate contracts and orders with dollar values that exceed (or are expected to exceed) the micro-purchase threshold. FAR 1.603 describes the requirements for the selection, appointment, and termination of Contracting Officers. Contracting Officers below the level of an HCA shall be selected and appointed under 1.603, this includes any MA-SCO serving in the capacity as a warranted Contracting Officer. Limitations of warrant authority are set for each Contracting Officer based on factors such as experience in acquisition, education, knowledge of acquisition methods, satisfactory completion of required acquisition training courses and continuous learning, understanding of acquisition laws and regulations, and personal integrity and professional conduct in exercising acquisition responsibilities.

Contracting authority is generally reserved for employees working within a USDA contracting activity, as defined by the FAR. Appointing officials shall issue warrants when there is an organizational need for a Contracting Officer. Factors such as volume of actions, complexity of work, and organizational structure shall be major considerations when determining whether to grant a warrant request. The appointing official shall assure the applicant has demonstrated an ability to apply applicable procurement laws, regulations, policies, and sound business judgment. Warrant authority for a federal employee outside of a contracting activity (i.e. Program Office) will generally not be considered unless there is a very compelling, and demonstrated organizational need and with approval via a waiver, in writing, from the SPE. The request should be addressed to the SPE from the MA-SCO. The waiver authority is not delegable or transferable. Warrants established for employees outside of a contracting activity prior to issuance of revision E of this advisory are grandfathered and the warrant authority (dollar threshold) previously issued does not change. Since there are no changes to existing warrants, Contracting Officers requiring a different or higher level warrant authority after the issue date of revision E must apply and meet the current requirements of this advisory.

1. ACTION

Appointing officials shall review warrant requests, issue, and manage Contracting Officer warrants through the Warrant Module in the Federal Acquisition Institute Training Application System (FAITAS). The Certificate of Appointment in FAITAS is generated on a Standard Form (SF) 1402 and states the employee's name (not a position); limitations on the scope of warrant authority; and shall be displayed openly to the general public and agency personnel. The warrant authorizes the employee to commit the Government to buy goods and services and obligate funds subject to any limitations as stated in the warrant. Appointing officials shall ensure employees nominated as Contracting Officers after the issue date of this advisory, meet the minimum warrant requirements shown in Attachment A of this Advisory which

Procurement Advisory No. 100 E Page 1 of 3

supersedes requirements originally outlined in Procurement Advisory 85. Warrants established prior to issuance of revision E of this advisory are grandfathered and the warrant authority (dollar threshold) previously issued does not change. Since there are no changes to existing warrants, Contracting Officers requiring a different or higher level warrant authority after the issue date of revision E must apply and meet the requirements of this advisory.

In order to maintain an appointment, all warranted Contracting Officers are required to complete at least 80 hours of continuous education or training every two years. If this condition is not met, the HCA, MA-SCO, Acquisition Career Manager (ACM), or Acquisition Career Manager Designee (ACM/D) shall revoke or suspend the appointment. Expiration of the Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) certification will result in a Contracting Officer being classified as uncertified and that employee will no longer have the authority to perform the functions of a Contracting Officer. At that time, the employee must complete the required training to be eligible to reestablish the FAC-C certification and the specific warrant authority. Those warranted Contracting Officers that do not hold a FAC-C shall also have their appointment revoked or suspended for non-compliance of the continuous education requirement. Submission of the completed training must be approved through FAITAS. Requests for extensions of the two year certification cycle are not granted. If the Contracting Officer continues to perform contract functions after the FAC-C certification is expired or for non-compliance of the continuous education requirement, it may result in unauthorized commitments as the employee will be acting without authority.

Contracting Officers have authority to sign contracts up to their delegated warrant authority as specified on the SF-1402. The appointing official shall specify the Contracting Officer's delegated warrant authority and warrant level on the SF-1402. The maximum warrant authority shall remain within the limitations specified in Attachment A, for the level at which the Contracting Officer is being certified. Warranted Contracting Officers also have authority to use Governmentwide purchase cards as a payment mechanism for contractual actions over the micro-purchase threshold and up to their delegated warrant authority or $1 million, whichever is less, after confirming the receipt of goods and services. Please note that purchases above the micro-purchase threshold are required to be processed in the Departmental procurement system, such as the Integrated Acquisition System (IAS), regardless of the payment mechanism used. The Contracting officer shall update their IAS profile using the IAS Access Request portal on the IAS homepage. Refer to Departmental Regulation 5013-6, or its updated version, for specific training and restrictions which govern purchase card use.

Contracting Officers shall not sign contracts, including modifications, options, estimated orders against an indefinite delivery contract, or any other agreement, that will result in the total amount of the contract exceeding their delegated warrant authority. Higher-level warranted Contracting Officers must sign the contract when amendments or modifications to orders and contracts cause the total amount of the contract to exceed the initial Contracting Officer's warrant limitation. If a Contract Specialist prepares the award, the Contracting Officer is responsible for assuring the signed document complies with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. MA-SCOs or their ACM/D are responsible for reviewing records on at least an annual basis to ensure all warrant holders maintain eligibility and all certified professionals meet the continuous learning requirements. The USDA ACM will periodically evaluate compliance and take corrective action if necessary.

Contracting Officers are legally responsible for their signed procurement documents. Contracting Officers cannot sign "for" or over the name of another Contracting Officer, or at a level exceeding limitations stated on their warrant. For further reference concerning Contracting Officer authority and responsibilities see FAR 1.602.

Unauthorized commitments occur when Contracting Officers, or any other individual, makes an agreement on behalf of the Government that is not binding because they lack authority to enter into an agreement, i.e., there is a lack of sufficient funding, use of funds is not approved, the warrant authority does not allow for the award made, etc. USDA HCAs and MA-SCOs are responsible for taking positive actions such as training, robust pre-award review procedures, etc. to preclude the occurrence of unauthorized commitments.

Ratifications to approve unauthorized commitments should be conducted in accordance with FAR 1.602-3 and approved at a level no lower than the chief of a contracting office. Ratifications may be approved if it meets the limitations described in FAR 1.602-3(c).

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2. WARRANT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS The agency's ACM or ACM/D shall maintain official files documenting each Contracting Officer's qualification and completed training. Such files shall be available for oversight reviews by the USDA ACM. Each agency's ACM or ACM/D shall submit an annual report to the USDA ACM by the 30th of April each year. The report shall be submitted electronically to: Procurement.Policy@dm. and include, at a minimum, the following information for all warrants: a. Name of Appointee; b. Grade and series; c. Mission Area; d. Warrant Level; e. Date of Appointment; f. Any limitation on the warrant; g. Certification Level and CL status, if applicable; and h. Any other related items upon USDA ACM request.

Procurement Advisories are issued by the Procurement Policy Division of the Office of Procurement and Property Management, Departmental Management, USDA, and posted on the World Wide Web at . If you have questions or comments regarding this advisory, please email Procurement.Policy@dm.. EXPIRATION DATE: Effective upon issue date until canceled.

[END] SEE ATTACHMENT A

Procurement Advisory No. 100 E Page 3 of 3

Attachment A

Contracting Officer Warrant Authority For GS-1102/1105 Personnel and

Mission Area Senior Contracting Official (MA-SCO) The following chart contains information on the minimum requirements for issuing contracting officer warrants. Appointing officials may further limit authority as necessary.

Level Level I Level IIA

FAC-C Level

I

Minimum Years Contracting Experience

1

Continuous Learning Points

80 CLPs every two years

II

2

80 CLPs every two

years

Maximum Warrant Authority

Series

$1M on Delivery/Task/Call Orders. Simplified Acquisition Threshold for all other procurements. $5M

GS-1102 or GS-1105

GS-1102

Level IIB

II

3

80 CLPs every two $10M

years

GS-1102

Level IIIA III

4

80 CLPs every two $20M

years

GS-1102

Level IIIB III

5

80 CLPs every two Unlimited

years

GS-1102

MA-SCO

III

5

80 CLPs every two Unlimited

years

GS-1102 or Senior Executive Service

? Contracting Officers are limited to awarding procurements up to their delegated warrant authority only.

NOTE- Higher-level warranted Contracting Officers must sign the award when modifications or additional orders cause the total amount of the contract to exceed the initial Contracting Officer's warrant limitation.

? Contracting Officers must complete CON 244 training for Construction or CON 243 training for A&E before awarding contracts of at least $25,000 in those specialized areas (16 CLPs of formal construction or A&E related training for less than $25,000).

? Prior to issuing, 1) a Level I warrant for non-1102/1105 personnel or 2) a Level II or higher warrant for non-1102s, a Waiver Request must be approved by the SPE.

Attachment to Procurement Advisory No. 100 E Page 1 of 2

Attachment A (Continued) Simplified Acquisition Warrant Authority

Level Simplified A

Minimum Education

High School

Minimum Contracting Experience 6 months

Minimum Formal Training

60 hours ? must include CON 237 "Simplified Acquisition Procedures" or equivalent

Continuous Learning Points 80 CLPs every two years

Maximum Authority

$25,000

Simplified B High School 1 year

100 hours ? must include CON 237 or equivalent contracting/purchasing related course

80 CLPs every two years

Simplified Acquisition Threshold

? Contracting Officers with Simplified A or B warrant authority are limited to writing orders (delivery, task, purchase, call) up to their delegated amounts using Simplified Acquisition Procedures.

? Contracting Officers must complete CON 244 training for Construction or CON 243 training for A&E before awarding contracts of at least $25,000 in those specialized areas (16 CLPs of formal construction or A&E related training for less than $25,000).

? No series limitations for Simplified A or B warrants.

Attachment to Procurement Advisory No. 100 E Page 2 of 2

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