Procurement and Suspension and Debarment
Notre Dame de Namur University receives funding from federal grant awards and is obligated to maintain a procurement policy that is compliant with federal requirements. A compliant purchasing system is one that adheres to federal procurement laws and regulations, as well as the University’s internal procurement policies and procedures.
A university buyer making a purchase with funds from a federal grant must comply with the sponsoring agency’s regulations, OMB Circular A-110, and OMB Circular A-21. Individual federal sponsoring agencies are required to incorporate the provisions of OMB Circular A-110 into their own agency regulations. OMB Circular A-110 contains the uniform administrative requirements for institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations with federally-funded grants or cooperative agreements. OMB Circular A-110 sets forth the specific procurement standards the University must follow when purchasing supplies and other expendable property, equipment, real property, and services with federal funds. OMB Circular A-21 sets forth the cost principals to be adhered to by educational institutions.
Notre Dame de Namur University requires grant administrators to conduct a cost/price analysis for every purchase using federal funds to ensure a fair and reasonable price. Cost/Price analysis is the review and evaluation of each element of cost to determine reasonableness, allocability and allowability. Such analysis is reflected in recorded competitive quotes and proposals. Buyers shall make an effort to check market prices, review past purchase orders for similar items, and demonstrate best business practices when making purchases with federal funds. This policy is in accordance with standards set forth in OMB Circular A-110. These standards ensure that materials and services are obtained in an effective/consistent manner and in compliance with the provisions of applicable federal statutes and regulations.
Transactions with no supported documentation or receipts will not be charged to externally funded accounts, as mandated by federal regulations and applied consistently, whether funded by government or private funding sources.
Procurement Code of Ethics
Individuals purchasing goods and services with federal grant funds on behalf of Notre Dame de Namur University shall conduct business in a professional and ethical manner, consistent with the core values of the University and in compliance with all applicable legal, regulatory, and program requirements. Purchasing professionals shall be held to the highest degree of trust and shall be bound to the Procurement Guidelines as stated below.
Any person employed by Notre Dame de Namur University who purchases goods and services or is involved in the purchasing process shall:
- Demonstrate loyalty to NDNU by diligently following all University policies and procedures while using professional judgment, reasonable care, and exercising only the authority granted;
- Avoid the intent and appearance of unethical or compromising practice in relationships, actions, and communications;
- Not enter into purchasing contracts that would present a real or apparent conflict between personal interests and the interests of NDNU;
- Never solicit or accept money, loans, credits, or discounts, and avoid the acceptance of gifts, entertainment, favors, or services from present or potential suppliers which might influence or appear to influence purchasing decisions;
- Promote positive supplier relationships through impartiality in all phases of the purchasing cycle;
- Provide an environment where all business concerns are afforded an equal opportunity to compete for NDNU business;
- Handle confidential or proprietary information with due care and proper consideration;
- Encourage support of small, disadvantaged and minority-owned business whenever possible; and,
- Comply with all applicable legal and regulatory obligations.
Note: Refer to NDNU Employee Handbook for Administrators and Staff section VIII. E. Notre Dame de Namur University Code of Ethics for University Code of Ethics guidelines.
Allowable and Unallowable Costs
OMB Circular A-21 states that costs may be charged to sponsored projects if expenses meet the following criteria:
Allowable: Costs that are permitted and/or not expressly prohibited according to the terms and conditions of the specific award, awarding agency policies, NDNU policies, and federal cost principles.
Allocable: Costs that provide a direct benefit to the project and can be associated with the project with a high degree of accuracy.
Reasonable: Costs that are able to withstand public scrutiny, i.e., objective individuals not affiliated with the institution would agree that the cost is reasonable and appropriate.
Consistent: Costs that are consistently treated in the same manner under like circumstances and are either directly charged or included in F&A recovery, not both.
There are certain costs that the federal government deems inappropriate and will not reimburse. These categories of costs are referred to as unallowable. Below is a partial list of costs that are generally considered unallowable under OMB Circular A-21. For a complete list of unallowable costs, please refer to Section J of OMB Circular A-21.
- Advertising, Public Relations
- Alcoholic Beverages, Including Tips for Alcohol
- Alumni Activities
- Bad Debts
- Fines and Penalties
- First Class Air Travel
- Goods and Services for Personal Use
Goods/Services Selection Criteria
- The grant administrator(s) shall obtain a clear and accurate description of the technical requirements for the material, product, or service to be procured. In competitive procurements, such a description shall not contain features which unduly restrict competition.
- Request for Proposals (RFPs) issued to vendors shall contain requirements which the respondent must fulfill and all other factors to be used in evaluating bids or proposals.
- Whenever practicable, RFPs shall contain descriptions of technical requirements in terms of functions to be performed or performance required (i.e., performance specifications), including the range of acceptable characteristics or minimum acceptable standards.
- RFPs shall include the specific features of "brand name or equal" descriptions that respondents are required to meet when such items are included in the solicitation.
- To the extent practicable and economically feasible, grant administrators shall emphasize preference for sustainable products and services that conserve natural resources and protect the environment and are energy efficient.
Requisitions are initiated by the purchaser and approved by the Project Director. For purchases greater than $1,500, a Purchase Requisition is required and must be approved by the Project Director, prior to the purchase being made. No purchase requisition is needed if the amount of purchase is less than $1,500. A Project Director must approve for purchases between $1,500 and $9,999. For items over $10,000 but less than $25,000, the Director of Planning & Budgeting needs to approve the Purchase Requisition. For items over $25,000, the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration’s signature (in addition to Director of Planning & Budgets and Project Director’s signatures) is required.
The University conducts free and open competition for its purchases to the maximum extent practical. All qualified vendors will be given equal opportunity to compete for University business. The practice of soliciting competitive bids/proposals serves to stimulate competition among prospective suppliers. Recognizing the importance of the process as a sound business practice, the Federal Government requires the solicitation of bids/proposals for purchases of $25,000 and more under grant/contract funded projects.
If only one bid is received, and for non-competitive purchases (i.e. sole or selected source, University-wide contracts/agreements), a Competitive Bid/Sole Source Justification Form must be completed. This form serves to identify the basis for selection (i.e. technical requirements or past performance) and provide sufficient documentation and explanation to justify the selection (sole source justification). The purpose of sole source justification is to show that a competitive procurement is impractical because only one product or service can meet the specific need. It is not to be utilized to circumvent normal purchasing procedure, nor for a price-based justification.
When spending federal funds, the University will only make purchases from responsible vendors who possess the potential ability to perform successfully under the terms and conditions of the purchasing contract. The University may consider several factors bearing on a vendor’s responsibility, including business integrity, record of past performance, and financial and technical resources.
Suspension and Debarment
Non-federal entities are prohibited from contracting with or making subawards under covered transactions with parties that are suspended or debarred or whose principals are suspended or debarred. (OMB Circular A-110, Appendix A, Contract Provisions) "Covered transactions" include those procurement contracts for goods and services awarded under a grant or cooperative agreement that are expected to equal or exceed $25,000 or meet certain other specified criteria. The Project Director must verify that the entity is not suspended or debarred or otherwise excluded. This verification may be accomplished by checking the System for Award Management (SAM), Formerly the Excluded Parties List System, collecting a certification from the entity, or adding a clause or condition to the covered transaction with that entity.
Conflict of Interest
No administrator may engage in any activity that creates or has a tendency to create a conflict of interest between his/her University obligations and any other interests or obligations. As used herein, the term “conflict of interest” refers to situations in which the interest of an administrator in his/her own welfare, or in the welfare of persons in the administrator’s immediate family, or with whom the administrator has a personal or financial relationship, may influence action taken by the administrator in a way that is inconsistent with the best interests of the University. Conflicts of interest in the University context may arise in a variety of areas and are to be avoided in all cases. All University employees are required to sign a Conflict of Interest Policy Acknowledgement/Disclosure Form that is included as part of the New Hire Packet, distributed to all employees at the time employment commences.
The Project Directors and the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration are available for advance consultation with respect to potential conflict of interest situations. The University expects staff members to seek advice from these sources.
If the Project Director or the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration are concerned about whether an administrator is meeting the standards of this policy, the immediate supervisor will discuss this with the administrator. If a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, the immediate supervisor will advise the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration of the problem and of the specific steps that have been taken in attempting to resolve the issue. Further attempts at resolution shall follow procedures for implementing the University’s policy as set forth in the Employee Handbook and other applicable regulations.
Note: Refer to NDNU Employee Handbook for Administrators and Staff section XIV. B. Conflicts of Interest for complete University conflict of interest guidelines.
Gifts, Gratuities, and Kickbacks
No administrator shall solicit nor accept - directly or indirectly - gifts, gratuities, or kickbacks of any value from vendors or service providers to the University. In the event that a University employee becomes aware of a suspected gift, gratuity, or kickback, the employee should contact their department manager, their Project Director, the Director of Accounting, or the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration as appropriate.
Procurement Records and Retention
Financial records, supporting documentation, and other records pertinent to the award shall be retained by the University for a period of three years from the date of submission of the final annual financial report, unless otherwise specified by the awarding agency. (2 CFR 215.53)
Notre Dame de Namur University requires that specific types of University records be disposed or retained for specific periods of time in accordance with other applicable legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements and institutional policies. Records, documents, email and correspondence of all kinds must be managed according to the procedures outlined in the Document Retention Policy and Guidelines. The University Document Retention Guidelines specify the period of time with which to retain the corporate records of NDNU. Please contact the Director of Accounting, Office of Finance and Administration for complete University records retention policy and schedule.