Acquisition & Assistance Ombudsman Frequently-Asked Questions


Question: Can the Ombudsman give legal advice?

Answer:  No. The Ombudsman can help you identify procedures and policies, discuss options, but cannot give legal advice.


Question: How does my firm become a certified or registered supplier for USAID?

Answer:  The Central Contractor Registration/Business Partner Network Policy became effective October 1, 2003 for all contractors and recipients conducting business with the federal government. Please take the time to review this important information and visit the Central Contractor Registration Website at - www.ccr.gov or www.bpn.gov. Visit www.usaid.gov, Business section frequently for updated postings on this matter.

U.S. and international private voluntary organizations (PVOs) wishing to become eligible for assistance (grants and cooperative agreements) from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and that meet USAID's definition of a PVO, must register with USAID. USAID may partner with a variety of organizations that do not meet this definition-such as churches, synagogues, mosques or other similar religiously affiliated institutions; universities; private foundations; and hospitals. Under USAID policy however, no funds appropriated under the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act may be made available to a PVO, as defined by the first four Conditions of Registration (see Conditions of Registration)., that is not registered with USAID. Disaster assistance funding and funding through sub-grants or contracts are not subject to this requirement.

The registration requirement does not pertain to local nongovernmental organizations or indigenous PVOs. In the absence of registration, Missions are encouraged to ensure that any local organization receiving funding from USAID is able to manage the funds, and has financial control systems in place to do so. A pre-award survey is recommended in such cases. Additional information on the PVO registration process as well as a list of registered PVOs can be found at http://www.usaid.gov/pvo.

 


Question: How can a firm do business with USAID?

Answer:  USAID does business through a variety of available federal mechanisms -- each with their own distinct policies, forms, procedures and associated documents. The awards support programs of the bureaus of Global Health; Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade; Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance; Regional bureaus and our Missions world-wide. Each solicitation will include a description of the USAID objectives, instructions for submissions, evaluation factors (selection criterion against which your offer will be evaluated) and a point of contact. Business opportunities are pursued by responding to a specific solicitation for acquisition or assistance, and carefully following the instructions contained the document. The various solicitation types are categorized on the website at www.usaid.gov/business, on the right hand side the page click on the link for "Business Opportunities):

Acquisitions - agency requirements for direct contracts are announced and solicited on http://www.fedbizopps.gov through Request for Quotes (RFQ), Request for Proposals (RFP) and Invitation for Bid (IFB's) when the cost is estimated to exceed $25,000. You can also find a link to Grants.gov at www.usaid.gov on the Business page.

Assistance - Cooperative Agreements and Grants are published on Grants.gov and can be accessed at http://www.grants.gov. You can also find a link to Grants.gov at www.usaid.gov on the USAID Business page.

Other business opportunities that can be found on the USAID Business webpage are: www.usaid.gov/work-usaid

Small Purchases (less than $25,000) at solicited through RFQs

Ocean Transportation: opportunities for doing business under USAID's food aid program. These opportunities will be directed at firms that supply ocean transportation and related services.

Commodities Goods - Procurement Information Bulletins (PIBs): Commodities procurement requirements are advertised in the Procurement Information Bulletin (PIB) as required by Section 602 of the Foreign Assistance Act.


Question: How would a small business work with USAID? Are there special considerations for small businesses?

Answer:  The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization and Minority Resource Center (OSDBU/MRC) is the initial point of contact at USAID for U.S. small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned small businesses, HUBZone small businesses and service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses. OSDBU/MRC is a small business advocacy and advisory office with the responsibility for ensuring that these enterprises receive access to USAID programs. OSDBU examines USAID buying needs for possible set-asides for 8(a) and other small businesses prior to publication on the FedBizOpps website, Sponsors outreach conferences on "How To Do Business with USAID," and participates in national, regional and local conferences sponsored by both private and public organizations, reviews all prime contracts to identify subcontracting opportunities for small businesses, maintains the Small Business Resource Database (SBRD). This is an electronic database for U.S. small businesses and organizations who are interested in participating in agency sustainable development programs. Registration with OSDBU/MRC does not mean that you are automatically mailed USAID solicitations or considered for USAID requirements. You must actively pursue and respond to any solicitation for which you would like to be considered.

 


Question: How can a firm express its interest in teaming with other firms, or in being subcontractor for USAID acquisitions and assistance?

Answer:  USAID development assistance programs/activities are complex in nature, actual performance and achievement of the objectives may require specialized expertise from multiple professions/business lines. Therefore, it is recommended that organizations offering specialized service/product lines, market themselves to entities interested in submitting offers on a specific solicitation published in FBO or Grant.gov. Another alternative is to market to the entities that already do business with USAID.

In the e-government environment solicitations are downloaded from the internet by the interested party, as such A&A Officials do not know who is interested in bidding. However an Interested Vendor's lists populated with information by vendors who down load the solicitation is a function available on the FBO website. If the list is not available, you should advise the point of contact listed in the solicitation. Contract awards of contracts may be announced in FBO or call the responsible procurement official to obtain the name of organizations that received the award under a specific solicitation.

On the USAID web site some of the offices list their implementation partners. For disaster assistance specific situations, USAID's Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, Office of Foreign Disaster (DCHA/OFDA) maintains a very current web-site of disaster response initiatives at http://www.usaid.gov on the "Our Work" WebPages, click on "Partners". On this site, the names of organizations working with OFDA are provided. Some of these organizations may have need for supplies such as the ones your firm offers.

In addition the USAID website, including the mission WebPages, often include the names of organizations working on specific programs and/in specific countries.

 


Question: How can an individual become a consultant under USAID contracts/grants?

Answer:  In the e-government environment solicitations are downloaded from the internet by the interested party, as such A&A Officials do not know who is interested in bidding. Often consultant services are required under USAID contracts, grant, and cooperative agreements. If you are interested in working for a USAID contractor or recipient you will need to contact the organization directly. A list of organizations that hold Indefinite Quantity Contracts and Leader w/Associate grants on the USAID website at http://www.usaid.gov/work-usaid/ , on the left hand side of the page click have mention the organizations that are working on their programs including overseas mission websites
.
 


Question: How do I get on the list to be notified of solicitation announcements, amendments?

Answer:  You can sign up to receive notices from FBO and Grants.gov for pre-solicitations and their modification, notices of solicitation and solicitation amendment releases and general procurement announcements. Information for the vendor notification service can be found on the FBO home page at www.fbo.gov. Information for the applicant notification service can be found on the Grants.gov home page at www.grants.gov
 


Question: Does the Agency for International Development buy any goods and services from non- - U.S. vendors/suppliers?

Answer:  USAID funding can be used to procure commodities and services from Non-U.S. firms. Generally, the procurement of commodities and services, including procurements under grants/cooperative agreements, are subject to 22 CFR 228 Rules on Source, Origin and Nationality for Commodities and Services Financed by USAID . The regulation can be found on the USAID website at http://www.usaid.gov/who-we-are/agency-policy/external-reference-links and the relevant agency policy is accessible in the Automated Directive System ADS chapters 310-314 on the USAID website at http://www.usaid.gov/who-we-are/agency-policy/series-300. The following information is offered with the intention of putting the overall source, origin and nationality concept into an overall context, but it is only an outline.

Documents that solicit contract proposals (request for proposals {RFP}) and grant applications (request for applications {RFA}) include a three digit "geographic code" used to identify one or more geographic locations designated as compliant with source, origin or nationality rules.

The major considerations that determine eligibility for using USAID funding for the purchase of commodities are the source and origin of the commodities and the nationality of the suppliers of the commodities. Where USAID funding is used for procurement of services the area of consideration that determines eligibility of the service is the nationality of the supplier of the services.

Procurement of Commodities
Commodity means any material, article, supply, goods, or equipment.

Source and Origin of commodities (22CFR228.11)- Source means the country from which a commodity is shipped to the cooperating country, or the cooperating country if the commodity is located therein at the time of the purchase (see 22CFR228.1(l). Origin means the country where a commodity is mined, grown or produced. (see 22 CFR 228 .1(j). - Additional guidance to consider is source and origin of components. Component means any good that goes directly into the production of a produced commodity (22CFR228.1(c)).

Nationality of suppliers of commodities- 22 CFR 228.31 The rules on nationality of suppliers of commodities relate only to the suppliers, and not to the commodities they supply. The nationality of the supplier is an additional eligibility criterion to the rules on source, origin and componentry. Supplier means any person or organization, governmental or otherwise, who furnishes services, commodities and/or commodity related services financed by USAID (22CFR228(1)(n).

Special rules on source and nationality of commodities 22CFR228.14 Agricultural and products thereof must be produced in the United States in addition, Motor Vehicles and Pharmaceutical products must be manufactured in the United States. In accordance with 22CFR228.1(o) United States means the United States of America, any State(s) of the United States, the District of Columbia, and areas of U.S. associated sovereignty, including commonwealths, territories and possessions.

Procurement of Services

Services mean the performance of identifiable tasks, rather than the delivery of an end item of supply (commodity).

Nationality of Supplier of Services 22CFR228.31

Commodity Related Services
(a) The eligibility of commodity related services ocean transportation services is determined by the flag registry of the vessel.) Commodity-related services means delivery services and/or incidental services.

  • Delivery service means any service customarily performed in a commercial export transaction which is necessary to affect a physical transfer of commodities to the cooperating country.
  • Incidental services means the installation or erection of USAID-financed equipment, or the training of personnel in the maintenance, operation and use of such equipment.


Question: Does USAID have a listing or database, worldwide, of the contractors and recipients with whom the Agency does business?

Answer:  We do not currently have a complete database of worldwide USAID awards (e.g., contracts, grants, etc. You a list of the primary contractors and grantees that have received acquisition and assistance awards from USAID to implement development assistance overseas can be found in a link on the Ombudsman's webpage.

Other organizations that have won awards from USAID may be

  • Found in the recent award notices section of Federal Business Opportunities at http: www.fbo.gov and for recipients www.fedgrants.gov.
  • On the USAID WebPages under the links for "Our Work" and "Locations" at http://www.usaid.gov/ and mission WebPages. A link to mission WebPages can be found under "Locations".
  • On the USAID Business WebPage in a list of Indefinite Quantity Contracts and the list of Leader with Associates grants.


Question: Will USAID consider unsolicited proposals or concept papers? Where can I find guidance?

Answer:  USAID may consider unsolicited concept papers that contribute new ideas consistent with and contributing to the accomplishment of the Agency's objectives in the countries in which it operates. The requirements for obtaining supplemental USAID mission resources are program specific, must be responsive to host country needs and must met the criteria for unsolicited proposals/applications. The USAID Contracts Information Bulletin - CIB 99-18 - Unsolicited Proposals for Acquisition and Assistance contains the guidelines for submitting concept papers/unsolicited proposals for contracts (acquisition) and grants (assistance) found at http://www.usaid.gov/work-usaid/aapds-cibs/ go to the link for CIB 99-18 at the bottom of the page.

Unsolicited proposals for acquisition (contracts) should be addressed to the Office of Acquisition and Assistance using the following address:

Agency for International Development
M/OAA/E
RRB, 7.08-006
Washington, DC 20523

Be sure to mark your envelope "Re: Unsolicited Concept Paper"

Unsolicited concept papers for grant awards may be submitted directly to the Program Offices within USAID/Washington Bureaus, or directly to USAID missions. The technical nature of the proposed concept paper, region or country of implementation will determine the applicable Bureau/Mission to which the paper should be submitted.

The "About USAID" WebPages, at http://www.usaid.gov/, contain information about the agency's organizational structure that can be helpful to you in determining where to send a concept paper. A full list of bureaus and offices can be found in the Organization Chart and Organization List. Do not send your unsolicited proposal to the Acquisition & Assistance Ombudsman.


Question: Does USAID offer scholarship assistance?

Answer:  USAID does not provide tuition grants or scholarships to individuals. Information about other organizations that may offer tuition assistance can be found on the USAID web sit at: http://www.usaid.gov/educ_training/scholarship.html. The U.S. Department of State also may have helpful information at http://exchanges.state.gov/education/.


Question: Does USAID have a maximum pay rate for contract salaries?

Answer:  The standard that USAID uses as the "USAID contractor salary threshold" (CST), formerly know as the "maximum daily rate", is the equivalent of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) maximum rate of pay for agencies without a certified SES performance appraisal system.

When researching the rate, follow these steps:

  • Go to the OPM web page at www.opm.gov
  • Click on "Salaries and Wages
  • Click on "Senior Executive Service
  • Click on Schedule for "Basic Rates of Pay for Members of the Senior Executive Service (SES)"
  • The "USAID CST" will be the amount established for Agencies without a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System.

The USAID CST policy applies to types of contracts in which the actual salary of the individual is considered in establishing the price or the fixed labor rate for services. The Base for hourly rate calculation: USAID policy requires Contract rates to be established on an hourly basis. For estimating purposes, non-personal services contractor's rates are to be calculated based on 2080 hours/year, the number used by many private sector entities. If a contractor employs methods or calculations using other than 2080 hours/year, the Contractor must annotate this in their proposal. The USAID CST is applicable to for-profit and non-profit firms. It is not applicable to grants or cooperative agreements.


Question: Can the USAID assist a subcontractor, working on a USAID funded project, with resolving a disagreement with the prime contractor?

Answer:  USAID does not have a contractual relationship with subcontractors and has no authority to mediate on behalf of the subcontractor.

 


For all other questions or suggestions regarding this Forecast, we can be reached at the following Internet address: AandAOmbudsman@USAID.GOV


Last updated: October 24, 2013

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