720R-A - Purchasing

  1. Purpose 

    This regulation defines Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) purchasing principles in accordance with applicable laws, policies and regulations and with generally accepted professional standards in such a manner as to insure consistency and clarity. Regardless of the source of funds by which a contract is to be paid, the Virginia Public Procurement Act (VPPA) of the Code of Virginia and related School Board policies apply to the procurement for all goods and services by all departments and schools for both appropriated and activity funds. This regulation does not apply to PTA, PTO, Booster Clubs or any other associations or organizations when purchases are made directly by such group. 

    The application of this regulation will ensure that all purchasing transactions are conducted in a fair and impartial manner with avoidance of any impropriety or appearance of impropriety, that no bidder or offeror be arbitrarily or capriciously excluded and that all qualified vendors have access to school board business, and that competition is sought to the maximum feasible degree. 

  2. Procurement Authority, Delegation and Responsibility 

    The Frederick County School Board delegates authority to the Superintendent, or designee to approve and enter contract(s) for the purchase or lease of goods or services and insurance or construction, on behalf of FCPS. As used herein, the term “Superintendent” shall include his/her designee. The Superintendent is authorized to award contracts and issue purchase orders for the procurement of goods and services as provided by policy. The Executive Director of Finance in coordination with the Superintendent will submit recommendations for contract awards that exceed the dollar threshold, provided in policy, to the School Board for approval before execution. All contracts for the procurement of any good or service must be signed by the Superintendent or the designee. Signed copies of contracts will be retained by the Executive Director of Finance. 

    Only account managers of FCPS, or their designees, who are also employees of FCPS, are permitted to make purchases that are billed to FCPS. All purchases must be made in accordance with the regulations outlined herein. No purchase can be made unless a sufficient funds are available within the appropriate account. At each school or central office administrative unit, the administrator or designee shall supervise their departments to ensure that approval is given before purchases are made and that allotments are not exceeded. Each school and central office administrative unit shall reconcile purchase activity and appropriation balances with records maintained by the Executive Director of Finance. Details of purchasing procedures are included in the Purchasing Procedure Manual. 

  3. Purchase Orders 

    1. General 

      The following guidelines shall apply to the utilization of purchase orders in Frederick County Public Schools: 

      1. Unless a purchase is made using a Procurement Card (See 720 R-B), a purchase order must be completed for all purchases in excess of $5,000 and must contain the code to which the item will be charged. If a purchase is made without a purchase order, the person responsible may be subject to disciplinary action and/or revocation of purchasing privileges. 

      2. All purchase orders, shall be signed by the Executive Director of Finance or designee(s). Purchase orders will not be issued prior to approval by all required parties. A printable copy of the purchase order shall be maintained in the financial software. This copy shall be sent to the vendor by the requesting department upon notification that their requisition was converted to a purchase order. Invoices received for issued purchase orders shall be attached via the accounts payable module in the financial software and the purchase order shall be referenced when paying the invoice. 

      3. When merchandise is received, it must be checked against the packing slip. Notations shall be made of items not delivered. Subsequently, the signed and dated packing slip shall be attached along with the invoice in the financial software. 

      4. The procedure regarding the $5,000 limit on purchase orders shall not be circumvented by ordering several smaller purchases to the same vendor. This practice shall be considered a purchasing violation and disciplinary action is possible. 

      5. Schools and departments requesting purchase orders must have appropriated funds available in the applicable expenditure codes of their budget. 

    2. Exceptions to Purchase Orders 

      The purchase order process affords the school or department the opportunity to encumber funds at the point of order preparation. However, processing a purchase order is normally not practicable or available and is not required for the following purchases: 

      1. Contracted food supply re-orders; 

      2. Utility charges; 

      3. Postage; 

      4. Water/sewer services; 

      5. Employee/School reimbursements; 

      6. Bank services or credit card services; 

      7. Membership dues; 

      8. Preview Orders; 

      9. Copier/postage machine-usage charges or lease payments; 

      10. Telecommunication/Cable Charges; 

      11. Tuition payments for students to other educational institutions; 

      12. Contracted items where the vendor will accept a procurement card purchase for greater than $5,000; 

      13. Travel when paying by P-card; 

      14. Other pre-approved situations. 

      Written documentation shall be forwarded to the purchasing supervisor by the account manager for review and approval by the Executive Director of Finance, stating the reasons why completing a purchase order is not practicable. 

  4. Methods of Procurement 

    1. Small Purchases: The Virginia Public Procurement Act permits FCPS to adopt written procedures for purchases not requiring the use of competitive sealed bidding or competitive negotiation for single or term contracts for goods and services if the aggregate or sum of all phases is not expected to exceed $100,000. 

      Purchases made under these adopted procedures shall provide for competition whenever practicable and do not require public bid openings or advertising. Supporting documentation shall be maintained for all purchases according to record retention policies. Such purchases will be made in a business-like manner and shall adhere to the following dollar thresholds: 

      1. Purchases of $5,000 or less: Single Quotation: Purchases from non-governmental sources where the total cost is $5,000 or less may be made upon the receipt of one fair and reasonable price (verbal, telephonic, or written) quote. Documentation of quote activity in the form of an email or memo shall be attached to the requisition in the financial software. 

      2. Purchases over $5,000 up to and including $30,000: Three quotations: Purchases from non-governmental sources where the total cost exceeds $5,000 but is not more than $30,000 may be made after soliciting quotes from three (3) qualified sources. Quotes may be solicited telephonically, by mail, facsimile, or electronically. Documentation of quote activity in the form of an email or memo shall be attached to the requisition in the financial software. Copies of the quotes shall be documented and accompany the purchase order or contract. The award shall be to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder. 

      3. Purchases over $30,000.00 up to and including $100,000: Four written quotations: Purchases from non-governmental sources where the total cost exceeds $30,000 but is not more than $100,000 may be made after soliciting written quotes/proposals from four (4) responsible sources. Sources may be solicited telephonically, by mail, facsimile, or electronically, but a written quote must be received from at least four (4) vendors. Documentation of quote activity in the form of an email or memo shall be attached to the requisition in the financial software. Copies of all quotes must accompany the purchase order. Notification shall be placed on the FCPS website for purchases that are expected to exceed $30,000 in value. 

    2. Competitive Sealed Bidding and Competitive Negotiation for Goods or Services Other than Professional Services: Purchases from non-governmental sources for goods and services other than professional services where the estimated total cost for the sum of all phases is expected to exceed $100,000 shall be made by the Finance Department through either competitive sealed bidding or competitive negotiation. Solicitations will be posted on the Virginia Department of General Services’ procurement website (eva.virginia.gov) and on the FCPS website at least ten (10) days prior to the date set for receipt of bids. Award notice will be posted for ten (10) days immediately following the actual time of award to the FCPS website. 

    3. Competitive Negotiation for Professional Services

      1. Conditions for Use

        Contracts for professional services, as defined by the Code of Virginia §2.2-4301, the cost of which is expected to exceed $80,000 and for transportation related construction $25,000 in the aggregate or for the sum of all phases of a contract or project, shall be entered into by the use of Competitive Negotiations for Professional Services. Services estimated to cost less than $80,000 but more than $5,000 shall be subject to small purchase procedures or any other method deemed to be in the best interests of the school division. 

      2. Request for Proposals

        Finance shall issue a written Request for Proposals indicating in general terms that which is sought to be procured, specifying the factors which will be used in evaluating the proposal and containing or incorporating by reference the other applicable contractual terms and conditions, including any unique capabilities or qualifications which will be required of the contractor. 

      3. Public Notice

        Public Notice of the Request for Proposals shall be given at least ten days prior to the date set for receipt of proposals by being posted on the Virginia Department of General Services’ procurement website (eva.virginia.gov) and the FCPS website. In addition, proposals may be solicited directly from potential contractors. 

      4. Selection and Award

        FCPS shall engage in individual discussions with two or more offerors deemed to be fully qualified, responsible and suitable on the basis of initial response and with emphasis on professional competence, to provide the required services. Repetitive informal interviews shall be permissible. The offerors shall be encouraged to elaborate on their qualifications and performance data or staff expertise pertinent to the proposed project, as well as alternative concepts. The Request for Proposals shall not, however, request that offerors furnish estimates of man-hours or costs for services. At the discussion stages, FCPS may discuss non-binding estimates of total project costs, including, but not limited to, life-cycle costing, and where appropriate, non-binding estimates of prices for services. Proprietary information from competing offerors shall not be disclosed to the public or to competitors. At the conclusion of the procurement, on the basis of evaluation factors published in the Request for Proposals, FCPS shall select in order of preference two or more offerors whose professional qualifications and proposed services are deemed to be the most meritorious. Negotiations shall then be conducted, beginning with the offeror ranked first. If a contract satisfactory and advantageous to FCPS can be negotiated at a price considered fair and reasonable, the award shall be made to that offeror. Otherwise, negotiations will be conducted with the offeror ranked second, and so on until such a contract can be negotiated at a fair and reasonable price. Should FCPS determine in writing and in its sole discretion that only one offeror is fully qualified, or that one offeror is clearly more highly qualified and suitable than the others under consideration, a contract may be negotiated and awarded to that offeror. 

    4. Sole Source Purchase

      A sole source procurement is authorized when there is only one source practicably available for the goods or services required. Copies of sole source awards shall be posted to the FCPS website for no less than 10 days from the date of award. 

    5. Emergency Purchases

      An emergency is an occurrence of a serious and urgent nature that demands immediate action to protect personal safety, life, property, or to avoid termination of essential services that would cause a dangerous condition. In such cases, competition is not required. However, competition is encouraged if practicable. FCPS shall issue a written notice stating that the contract is being awarded, or has been awarded on an emergency basis. This notice will be publicly posted in a designated public area for ten (10) calendar days, beginning the day of award or decision to award is announced, whichever occurs first. It should be noted that emergency situations do not consist of situations that result from lack of planning, neglect, or the potential loss of yearend funds. 

    6. Cooperative Procurement

      1. FCPS may participate in, sponsor, conduct, or administer a cooperative procurement agreement on behalf of or in conjunction with one or more other public bodies or private educational institutions, for the purpose of combining requirements to increase efficiency or reduce administrative expenses in any acquisition of goods and services. Except for contracts for architectural and engineering services, FCPS may purchase from another public body's contract even if it did not participate in the request for proposal or invitation to bid, if the request for proposal or invitation to bid specified that the procurement was being conducted on behalf of other public bodies. 

      2. Purchase orders issued under cooperative purchasing arrangements must list the corresponding cooperative contract information, including the contract number. 

      3. Nothing herein shall prohibit the payment by direct or indirect means of any administrative fee that will allow for participation in any such arrangement. 

      4. FCPS may purchase goods and non-professional services from a U.S. General Services Administration contract Schedule 70 or 84 provided it has been modified to allow for cooperative purchasing or a contract awarded by any other agency of the U.S. government provided the terms of the contract permit such purchases. 

      5. Items purchased using a Virginia state contract shall be deemed to have met the competitive requirements and shall not require further competition. Items available on state contracts shall be researched to ensure that prices are both fair and reasonable. 

    7. Exceptions to Competitive Requirements

      It has been determined that competition normally is not practicable or available and is not required for the following purchases if under $100,000: 

      1. Books, preprinted materials, reprints and subscriptions, pre-recorded audio and video cassettes, compacts, slide projections, etc. when only available from the publisher/producer 

      2. Academic/ research consulting services 

      3. Honoraria, entertainment (speakers, lecturers, musicians, performing artists) 

      4. Training that is specialized, proprietary, not typically available to the general public for which competition is generally unavailable, off-site, and requires a registration fee 

      5. Royalties and film rentals when only available from the producer or protected distributors 

      6. Professional organizational membership dues 

      7. Writers 

      8. Artists (does not include graphic artists) and original works of art 

      9. Advertisements in newspapers, magazines, journals, etc. 

      10. Conference facilities (to include conference support and related lodging and meals) only when the use of a specific facility is directed by an outside donor, sponsor, or organization (for the purchase of conference facilities under other conditions) 

      11. Accreditation fees, testing, and evaluation services 

      12. Used equipment and materials 

      13. Surplus property 

      14. Utility charges 

      15. Fund Raisers 

    8. Other Exceptions 

      1. The following exception procedures are specifically intended to aid in the efficient operation of the school division. Purchases of new equipment and renovated/new assets are expected to be planned, organized and carried out using the normal procurement methods outlined in Section 4.: 

        • The Facilities Services, Transportation and Information Technology Departments may purchase parts and supplies used in conjunction with maintenance and repair of existing equipment and costing up to $30,000 with a single quotation. Additional competition is encouraged and should be sought whenever there is reason to believe that a quotation does not reflect a fair and reasonable price. A written justification, explaining why competition was not sought, should be prepared by the account manager and forwarded to the Executive Director of Finance or designee prior to the actual purchase being made. This justification should explain why competition was not sought, i.e. time constraints, etc. This justification will be reviewed by  the Executive Director of Finance or designee for acceptability. If necessary, Executive Director of Finance will request additional documentation. 

        • Contracted services obtained in conjunction with the repair of existing equipment and buildings and costing up to $30,000 may be procured with a single quotation. Additional competition is encouraged and should be sought whenever there is a reason to believe that a quotation does not reflect a fair and reasonable price. A written justification, explaining why competition was not sought, should be prepared by the account manager and forwarded to Executive Director of Finance or designee prior to the actual purchase being made. This justification should explain why competition was not sought, i.e. time constraints, etc. This justification will be reviewed by Executive Director of Finance or designee for acceptability. If necessary, Executive Director of Finance will request additional documentation. 

        • When the process of advertising or seeking additional competition would adversely affect the financial interests or the bargaining position of FCPS, contracted services may be procured with a single quotation. The cost of these services shall not exceed $15,000 in the aggregate or the sum of all phases. A written justification, explaining why competition was not sought, should be prepared by the account manager and forwarded to the Executive Director of Finance, or designee prior to the actual purchase being made. This justification should explain how the process of advertising or seeking additional competition would adversely affect the financial interests or bargaining position of FCPS. This justification will be reviewed by the Executive Director of Finance, or designee for acceptability. If necessary, the Executive Director of Finance will request additional documentation. 

        • These exception procedures should not be used for hardships created by neglect, poor planning, lack of organization or the potential loss of yearend funds. 

  5. Purchase Options for Goods 

    In order to maintain continuity of operations throughout the school division, certain purchases must be reviewed and approved by the departments that oversee the installation, maintenance and support of those purchases. 

    1. Computer-related Equipment and Software: The purchase of all computer equipment and software requires the prior approval of the Information Technology (I.T.) Department to ensure that the procurement is in conformance with the FCPS Information Technology Plan the equipment and/or software and will perform with the existing network and hardware. 

    2. Audiovisual Equipment: Requisitions for audiovisual equipment will be made by the Media Services Coordinator. 

    3. Maintenance: Purchases made by schools or central office administrative units for maintenance work must be authorized in advance by the Director of Buildings and Grounds. 

    4. Lease/Purchase Agreements: This option includes the purchase of goods where multiple payments are made totaling the cost of the purchase price. These purchases will be handled in accordance with the appropriate method of purchase. The purchase order will be issued in the full amount with an encumbrance only in the amount to be paid in the current fiscal year. These purchase transactions will include a non-appropriation of funds clause. The purchase of goods under the lease/purchase agreement method must be approved by the Executive Director of Finance prior to submission of requisition to purchasing staff. 

    5. Surplus: Property no longer needed by a governmental agency is considered surplus. The purchase of local, state or federal government surplus property may be made without competitive bidding. 

    6. Used Equipment: The purchase of used equipment (that which has been previously owned and used) may be negotiated by the Finance Department, after receipt of a written statement from a person who is technically knowledgeable of the type of equipment to be purchased. 

    7. Lines of Credit: No line of credit may be established with any vendor without the written approval of the Executive Director of Finance. 

  6. Purchase Options for Services 

    1. Computer-related Services: The purchase of all computer-related services require the prior approval of the Information Technology (I.T.) Department to ensure that such services are in conformance with the FCPS Information Technology Plan. 

    2. Employee Vs. Contractor: There is a recognized need for the procurement of individual services when such services cannot be provided by FCPS or other governmental personnel resources, e.g. guest lecturer, seminar leader, consultant, piano tuner, interpreter, etc. In each case, a distinction must be made between “temporary employees” and “independent contractors” due to regulations imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Virginia Employment Commission, and Virginia Industrial Commission. Generally, the difference between the “independent contractor” and the “temporary employee” lies in his/her relationship to the school district. When the need arises, the Purchasing Supervisor in coordination with the Executive Director of Finance will be responsible for determining whether the individual is classified as either an independent contractor or employee. 

    3. Non-professional Services: The procurement of non-professional services from non-governmental sources shall be obtained in accordance with the established methods of procurements, i.e. small purchase, competitive sealed bids, etc. Some examples of non-professional services include but are not limited to the following: transportation, charter bus, disc jockey, landscaping, security, etc. 

    4. Professional Services: The procurement of professional services from non-governmental sources shall be obtained by the Superintendent in accordance with the applicable provisions of the VPPA. Professional Services are defined by the VPPA as work performed within the scope of practice of accounting, actuarial services, architecture, land surveying, landscape architecture, law, dentistry, medicine, optometry, pharmacy and professional engineering. 

  7. Receipt of Goods and Services 

    1. It is the responsibility of the account manager to inspect and ensure that goods received and/or services performed are in accordance with the specifications of the bid, proposal, or purchase order. 

    2. When goods or services have been received, they must be checked against the packing slip and notation made of items not delivered. A copy of the signed receiving document shall be attached in the finance software accounts payable module when paying invoices. 

    3. Cancelled orders shall result in the cancellation of the purchase order in the finance software by the requesting department with a note added to the purchase order as to why it was cancelled. The Finance Department must be notified when orders are canceled. 

  8. Purchases Made Using School-based Funds

    1. The purchasing policy of FCPS extends to purchases made from activity funds maintained at the school level with regard to limits on purchasing: 

      1. Any purchase of materials, supplies, equipment or services expected to equal or exceed $100,000 shall be subject to the competitive sealed bid provisions, and purchases for professional services expected to equal or exceed $80,000 shall be subject to competitive negotiation provisions ; 

      2. When a purchase of commodities equals or exceeds $5,000, three (3) written quotations from vendors shall be obtained where practical. Verbal quotations will be permitted provided a written record is filed with records of the transaction. 

    2. The School Board may reimburse school accounts if they are part of the yearly allotment. Procedures for reimbursement are: 

      1. Only invoices actually paid can be billed to the Frederick County School Board. 

      2. Copies of all invoices must accompany request for reimbursement. No reimbursement will be made unless there is an itemized invoice. 

      3. Billing must be broken down by department and the appropriate expenditure code indicated. 

      4. Each account manager must supervise departments to see that they do not overspend their allotments. Reimbursements cannot exceed allotments. 

      5. A copy of the school purchase order must accompany the reimbursement request along with all quotations, if necessary. 

    3. No expenditure can be made from a school’s allocation or activity funds without the approval of the principal or his/her designee, and no person can be reimbursed unless he/she submits documentation from the vendor. 

  9. Debarment 

    Action to have a bidder, offeror or contractor debarred shall be initiated by the Executive Director of Finance sending a letter to the Superintendent recommending debarment and providing all the pertinent facts to support that recommendation. The Superintendent also has the ability to suspend a bidder, offeror or contractor for a period not to exceed six months if it is believed that a bidder, offeror or contractor has engaged in any activity which might lead to debarment. After an evaluation of the facts surrounding the recommended debarment, the Superintendent will decide whether or not to take actions to exclude individuals or firms from contracting with FCPS for particular types of goods or nonprofessional services for a period of time, not to exceed three years. 

    Prior to the issuance of a written determination of suspension or debarment, the Superintendent shall i) notify the bidder, offeror or contractor in writing of the results of the evaluation, ii) disclose the factual support for the determination, and iii) allow the bidder, offeror or contractor an opportunity to inspect any documents that relate to the determination, if so requested within five business days after receipt of the notice. 

    Within ten days after the receipt of the notice, the bidder, offeror or contractor may submit rebuttal information challenging the evaluation. The Superintendent shall issue its written determination of suspension or debarment based on all information in the possession of FCPS, including any rebuttal information, within five business days of the date the public body received such rebuttal information. 

    If the evaluation reveals that the bidder, offeror or contractor should not be suspended or debarred, FCPS shall cancel the proposed suspension or debarment. If the evaluation reveals that the bidder, offeror or contractor should be suspended or debarred, FCPS shall so notify the bidder, offeror or contractor. The notice shall state the basis for the determination, which shall be final unless the bidder, offeror or contractor appeals the decision within ten days after the receipt of the notice by invoking administrative procedures meeting the standards of Code of Virginia, § 2.2-4365, if available, or in the alternative by instituting legal action as provided in Code of Virginia, § 2.2-4364. 

    Grounds for debarment of vendors are contained in Section 17, subsections i-vii of 720 P, Operations and Finance – Purchasing. 

Legal Reference(s): 
Code of Virginia, Virginia Public Procurement Act, Title 2.2, Chapter 43

Code of Virginia, Section(s) 22.1-241, Contracts with Publishers 


Adopted: April 7, 1970 
Amended: August 4, 1981 
Amended: May 9, 1983 
Amended: October 17, 1983 
Amended: March 30, 1984 
Amended: October 30, 1984 
Amended: November 21, 1994 
Amended: June 19, 1995 
Amended: May 9, 2001 
Amended: January 20, 2003 
Amended: March 7, 2006 
Amended: October 27, 2006 
Amended: August 5, 2009 
Amended: November 2, 2009 
Amended: November 12, 2009 
Amended: April 20, 2010 
Amended: October 19, 2011 
Amended: August 20, 2015 
Amended: January 3, 2018
Amended: August 15, 2018
Amended: May 8, 2019