Changes to School Division Purchasing Authority

On October 2, 2013 the PWC School Board approved reducing the school division’s authority to award contracts from $500,000 to $250,000.  This vote required changing a number of policies regarding purchasing to reflect the reduced threshold.

At the January 8, 2014 school board meeting, the school board will vote to approve or reject the changes to those purchasing policies that resulted from that vote.

Many of the changes to the purchasing policies have nothing to do with reducing the school division’s contract award authority.  In fact, the only change that is related to the vote on October 3, 2013 is the change to policy 470.08.   The remaining changes eliminate notification of change orders / contract modifications and increase the purchasing authority for schools, departments, and the Office of Facilities Services.

All of the proposed changes  are summarized below.

Policy 470.01 – Purchasing Authority and Responsibility

Semantic changes only.

Policy 470.02 – Ethics in Public Contracting

Semantic changes only.

Policy 470.03 – Methods of Procurement and Cooperative Agreements

Significant changes to purchasing authority for professional and non-professional goods and / or services

Small purchases – authority increased from $50,000 to $60,000 for professional services and $100,000 for non-professional services.

Competitive sealed bidding – authority increased from $50,000 to $100,000.

Competitive negotiation – authority increased from $50,000 to $60,000 for professional services and $100,000 for non-professional services.

Policy 470.04 – Small Purchases

In the past there was one set level of purchasing authority.  The proposed change provides different levels of authority for schools / departments  versus Office of Facilities Services.

For schools and departments (not Office of Facilities Services)

    • Purchases from non-governmental sources of $0 – $5,000 require one fair and reasonable quote.  Used to be $0 – $3,000.
    • Purchases from non-governmental sources of $5,001 – $15,000 require 3 competitive written or verbal quotes.  Used to be $3,001 – $15,000.

For Office of Facilities Services

    • Purchases from non-governmental sources of $0 – $10,000 require one fair and reasonable quote.  Used to be $0 – $3,000.
    • Purchases from non-governmental sources of $10,001 – $20,000 require 3 competitive written or verbal quotes.  Used to be $3,001 – $15,000.

For schools, departments, and Office of Facilities Services

    • Purchases from non-governmental sources of $15,001 or $20,001 – $50,000 require 4 fax, email, or eBid proposals.  Only change is adding the $20,001 bottom for Office of Facilities Services.
    • Purchases from non-governmental sources of $50,001 – $100,000 require 4 competitive written unsealed bods or proposals.  This entire point is new.  Purchasing authority used to end at $50,000.

Policy 470.05 – Sealed Competitive Bidding, Negotiations, and Modifications

Increases the purchasing authority of the Procurement Office from $50,000 to $100,000.

No changes are proposed to the portion of the policy regarding contract modifications, however, change orders and contract modifications have been a source of concern by many of us who monitor the school division’s activities.  Regarding change orders / contract modifications, the policy states that fixed price contracts may not be increased by 25% of the contract price or $50,000, whichever is greater, without the approval of the school board.  This means that approval of the school board is unnecessary if changes of $220,000 are proposed to a $10 million contract.

Policy 470.06 – Remedies in Bids and Awards and Debarment 

Removes the PWC School Board designated protest officer as person with whom protests are to be filed and replaces him / her with Supervisor of Purchasing.

Policy 470.07 –  Payment for Goods or Services

Semantic changes only.

Policy 470.08 – Prince William County School Board Contract Authority

Reduces Supervisor of Purchasing’s purchasing authority from $500,000 to $250,000.  Requires contracts and change orders exceeding $250,000 to be approved by the school board.

Removes requirement of that school board be notified each mont of awards and change orders of $200,000 – $500,000.

Regulation 470.1 – Fiscal Management (for information only)

  II.  Procurement Authority, Delegation, and Responsibility

Decreases purchasing authority of Supervisor of Purchasing from $500,000 to $250,000.  Requires school board approval of awards of $250,001 or greater.

IV.  Methods of Procurement

Adds the following sentence to point 2, “Purchasing will not accept any requisitions for less than $15,000 from schools or departments or $20,000 from Facilities Services unless approved in advance by the Supervisor of Purchasing.

VI.  Initializing the Procurement Process

Changes the following sentence by inserting text in italics in point B, “Budget holders may issue and approve Decentralized Purchase Orders (PD) up to $15,000 ($20,000 for Facilities Services) for the procurement of non contract goods and services.”

Policy 370 – General Contract Authority

The policy establishes the separate thresholds for small purchases for schools / departments and the Office of Facilities Services noted in Policy 470.04, above.

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