Uniform Guidance

About Uniform Guidance

Uniform Guidance Overview

Uniform Guidance (“UG”) is a set of regulations (located at 2 CFR 200) that consolidates federal guidelines impacting research administration. Per the OMB website, this guidance “supersedes and streamlines requirements from OMB Circulars A-21, A-87, A-110, and A-122 (which have been placed in 2 C.F.R. Parts 220, 225, 215, and 230); Circulars A-89, A-102, and A-133; and the guidance in Circular A-50 on Single Audit Act follow-up.”

Goals of Uniform Guidance

UG significantly reforms federal grant making to focus resources on improving performance and outcomes. The intent is to reduce administrative burdens for grant applicants and recipients and reduce the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse.

Procurement guidance is specifically located in sections 200.317-200.326. This guidance focuses on increased competition and transparency in the procurement process.

Impact to the University of Connecticut Community

Since the University of Connecticut has followed State regulations, changes to procurement practices should be minimal under UG.  Procurement Services has partnered with the Office of the Vice President for Research to collaboratively communicate and coordinate the execution of any new requirements.  The 4 remaining procurement areas of focus to ensure compliance with UG are listed below with #3 and #4 actively under development with OVPR and key stakeholders:

  • Micro-purchase Threshold (MPT)

For the first version of UG, the MPT was $3,000. However, Congress recently passed a statute into law, changing the definition of MPT from $3,000 to $10,000. This revised definition results in no changes to how the University community purchases goods under $10,000 as this threshold also matches the current state threshold for micro-purchases.

  • Sole Source Procurement

UG has limited the use of sole sources to four distinct justifications. Those are:

  1. product/service is only available from a single source;
  2. Public Emergency Procurement
  3. Federal Awarding Agency Authorization (the awarding agency specifically authorizes a non-competitive procurement after a written request from the Non-federal entity);
  4. Inadequate competition after multiple attempted solicitations

These changes will result in increased scrutiny of all sole source justifications. The most significant change to the sole source section of UG (from the OMB circulars) is that the “continuity of research” justification is no longer an acceptable sole source. Additionally, every sole source will require a price/cost justification.

  • Academic Research Consulting

The University community has historically used sole sources as a justification for academic research consulting services. Currently the Office of the Vice President for Research (“OVPR”), independently determines whether these services require a sole source. Any change to this process that requires the direct involvement of Procurement Services will result in a more deliberate, but ultimately more compliant screening and sourcing process of these services.

  • Conflict of Interest

Procurement Services is creating a new Conflict of Interest policy specific to procurement actions. This will require increased disclosure of documentation for potential committee members. Additionally sole source justifications may require further evidence or statements assuring no financial relationship exists with potential vendors.

Uniform Guidance Update

June 21, 2017

The University of Connecticut will continue to follow the procurement requirements of State Statutes, the University’s existing policies & procedures, and the OMB  Circulars (A-21, A-110 and A-133) and will utilize the grace period allowed in the Uniform Guidance and as extended by the Office of Management and Budget technical corrections.

February 24, 2017

Updates from OMB/COGR Meeting

OMB presented an update at the COGR Meeting on Friday 2/24.  The following is of note:

  1. A Federal Register Notice to provide updates to 2 CFR Part 200 (i.e., Uniform Guidance) remains in pending status. Under the President’s regulatory freeze, updates to the Uniform Guidance will not be released until they have been approved by senior leadership at OMB. At this stage, an exact date is uncertain.
  2. Included in the pending Federal Register Notice is an extension of the grace period for implementation for the entire suite of the Procurement Standards (2 CFR 200.317-326) for one more year (i.e., July 1, 2018 for most research institutions). As presented by OMB on Friday, OMB is working to decouple the extension of the grace period from the main Federal Register Notice. If successful, we expect to see a separate notice, focusing specifically on the extension of the grace period, in the near future.
  3. We further expect the separate notice on the extension of the grace period to clarify how the Micropurchase threshold, as specified under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and under the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA), are to be implemented. Our understanding is that the grace period will be applied to the Micropurchase threshold, as defined in the NDAA  and the AICA (see Summary below) and that research institutions will not be required to change their Micropurchase threshold policies for one more year (i.e., July 1, 2018 for most research institutions).
  4. Yes, this is a bit confusing, but a potentially positive development. COGR is closely monitoring the release of an OMB Notice that will address the extension of the grace period and we will keep the Membership posted on all developments.

NDAA and AICA Micropurchase Threshold Summary

NDAA: $10,000 or higher threshold as determined by the head of the relevant executive agency and consistent with clean audit findings, institutional risk assessment, or State law. Applicable to grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts for all federal agencies.

AICA: $10,000 or higher threshold as determined by the head of the relevant executive agency and consistent with audit findings, institutional risk assessment, or State law. Applicable only to NSF, NASA and NIST.

January 24, 2017

On January 11, Procurement Services presented at the Office of the Vice President for Research’s Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) meeting. Procurement presented slides #3-6, covering the updated Micro-purchase threshold, the “Go-Live” date for Uniform Guidance, and potential future updates to the University community.

Here is the link to the full SPA PowerPoint slideshow: http://content.research.uconn.edu/pdf/storrs/sps/rawg/Jan2017SPAMeeting.pdf

Additionally, Procurement will also be presenting at the February SPA meeting.

January 4, 2017

Procurement Services just wanted to provide you with an update on the newest developments regarding Uniform Guidance:

  • The Micro-purchase threshold, previously $3,500, has been increased to $10,000 after legislation was passed in early December. This is expected to be included in the UG updates that will be in the upcoming Federal Register. This legislation means that no changes will be made to procurement practices under the $10,000 bid threshold.
  • Additionally, this means that the PCard threshold will also remain at its current $4,999 threshold for individual transactions, meaning that no change in procurement practices will occur for any PCard purchases under UG.
  • The current “go-live” date for Uniform Guidance is 7/1/17. However, the University anticipates that OMB will allow a final, one-year grace period for implementation of procurement rules. Procurement will continue to provide updates to the anticipated timeline on this web page.
  • A representative from Procurement Services will attend future SPA meetings, hosted by the OVPR and will also attend the Federal Demonstration Partnership conference in early January. Through this conference, and future efforts, procurement will attain new knowledge about UG and its effects on the University community. This knowledge will be shared on this web page.

December 19, 2016

Following up on the Uniform Guidance Update from August 22, there are four core areas that Procurement Services continues to work on.

  • Conflict of Interest (Policy under construction)
  • Academic Research Consultants (Policy and collaborative process w/ OVPR under construction)
  • Single Source Procurement (refer to June 22, 2016 update)
  • Micro-purchase Threshold (Currently a part of new OMB rule making process due out in Sept/Oct 2016)

For more information on UG, visit http://www.cogr.edu/sites/default/files/December2016Update.pdf.

Financial Conflict of Interest Policy For Vendors & Employees

September 7, 2016

The University of Connecticut has delayed the implementation of the new Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards until July 1, 2017 as provided by the waiver of procurement rules in the Federal Register Volume 80, Number 175. This includes the University’s Financial Conflict of Interest Policy for Vendors & Employees, which is currently still under construction. In the interim, State statutes, University of Connecticut’s existing policies & procedures, and the OMB Circulars will continue to apply.

 

Uniform Guidance Update

August 22, 2016

As we’ve entered the final year before UG goes into effect, there are four core areas Procurement Services continues to work on the following four core requirements:

  • Conflict of Interest (Policy under construction)
  • Academic Research Consultants (Policy and collaborative process w/ OVPR under construction)
  • Single Source Procurement (refer to June 22, 2016 update)
  • Micro-purchase Threshold (refer April 26, 2016 update, slide #6)

Procurement Services will continue to provide updates and guidance leading up to July 1, 2017 go-live for the new federal procurement standards.

 

Sole Source Update

June 22, 2016

Effective on July 1, 2017, Uniform Guidance (“UG”) will impose new regulations regarding the use of “non-competitive procurement” (i.e. sole source) and the justifications that will be allowed for purchases using federal funds.

The current version of UG includes only 4 specific exceptions when sole sources are permitted. Those are:

  • “The item is available only from a single source;
  • The public exigency or emergency for the requirement will not permit a delay resulting from competitive solicitation
  • The Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity expressly authorized noncompetitive proposals in response to a written request from the non-Federal entity; or
  • After solicitation of a number of sources, competition is determined inadequate”

Please note, that continuity of research, expediency of research or other similar justifications that have been used in the past will no longer be acceptable justifications for federally funded purchases.

 

Procurement Update from Recent FDP Meeting

June 2, 2016

Procurement attended the most recent Federal Partnership Demonstration conference in Washington D.C in order to further understand the upcoming implementation of Uniform Guidance. The following were the key takeaways from the event:

  1. In 2015, a survey was released to assess the impact of the micro-purchase threshold on FDP member procurement departments. The survey results will be presented to OMB (by COFAR) by May 31, 2016. If this does not result in OMB changing their decision about the $3,000 micro-purchase threshold it is unlikely that it will change before 7/1/17, as the committee believed found that OMB was not receptive to the change so far. The committee also said that pilot programs are inappropriate because it would not be demonstrating the efficiency or effectiveness of a procurement action, just a changed dollar threshold.
  2. There is proposed legislation which is under consideration that would raise the threshold to $10,000. This would, likely, be the last chance for any meaningful reform before 7/1/17.
  3. There was some brief discussion about the possibility of FDP member consortia agreements. But this discussion is in the preliminary stages at best.

Be sure to check this site periodically as more updates will be forthcoming.

 

Uniform Guidance Update

April 26, 2016

Procurement Update Presented to RAWG

 

Uniform Guidance Implementation

March 11, 2016

The University of Connecticut will be implementing new federal regulations, known as Uniform Guidance, and replacing OMB Circular A-110. The University has elected to utilize the grace period and delay this implementation until July 1, 2017. In the interim, the University’s existing policies and procedures and the OMB circulars will continue to apply.

 

Peer Engagement

March 11, 2016

Members of the Procurement Services management team attended the NAEP Federal Procurement institute in February. Additionally, the Office of Vice President of Research continues to communicate with COGR regarding potential new developments.

Both departments continue to research and engage with peer institutions regarding open issues and approaches to UG conformance. Over the next few weeks, certain components will be clarified and extended to the University community.

 

Implications of Uniform Guidance

November 6, 2015

Michael Glasgow, Associate Vice President for Research Sponsored Program Services, and Matthew Larson, Director of Procurement Services presented,  “Implications of Uniform Guidance: From a Collaborative Research Administration and Procurement Organization Perspective” at the National Association of Educational Procurement New England Fall Conference.

Download the PowerPoint

 

Federal Procurement Rules

July 28, 2015

As of July 1, 2017 federal procurement rules found in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 will no longer be effective. The new rules can be found at 2 CFR Part 200, starting with section 200.317. Procurement Services is working on new policies and procedures to accommodate these new rules and regulations. Until July 1, 2017 Procurement will continue to follow current procurement policies and procedures as well as the OMB circulars.

If you have any questions call BJ Pivonka at 860-486-2626.

 

Procurement Standards

Effective December 26, 2014, new federal grants and funding amendments to existing federal grants will be subject to the requirements of 45 CFR Part 75, which implements 2 CFR Part 200 (“Uniform Guidance”). The Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) has delayed the implementation requirements of Uniform Guidance for Procurement until June 30, 2017. Over the course of the next year, UConn’s Uniform Guidance Task Force will develop procurement policies and procedures consistent with the Uniform Guidance. Until we develop new procurement policies and procedures, UConn’s current policies and procedures, as well as the OMB circulars, will remain in effect.

Additional information offered by the Office of Vice President of Research at UConn Uniform Guidance Initiatives.