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 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.

3. Purchase Orders

A. General

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

i. 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 $1,500 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.

ii. 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. The vendor copy will be mailed from the administration building or returned to the school or department for processing. A receiver of goods and payment copy of the purchase order will be returned to the school or department. The receiver of goods copy shall be retained for the school file. The payment copy must be returned with the signed delivery tickets to the accounts payable specialist indicating the date the merchandise was received and checked so that payment may be made. If the original invoice is received, it should be attached to the payment copy of the purchase order that is sent to the accounts payable specialist.

iii. When merchandise is received, it must be checked against the packing slip. Notations should be made of items not delivered. Subsequently, the signed and dated packing slip should be sent along with the payment copy to the accounts payable specialist.

iv. The procedure regarding the $1,500 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.

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

B. 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 reimbursements;
6. Bank services or credit card services;
7. Membership dues;
8. Preview Orders;
9. Copier-usage charges;
10. Telecommunication/Cable Charges;
11. Tuition payments for students to other educational institutions;
12. Other pre-approved situations 

A list of pre-approved situations will be maintained by the Finance Department and will be updated on an annual basis. Written documentation shall be forwarded to the purchasing supervisor by the account manager for review and approval, stating the reasons why completing a purchase order is not practicable.

4. Methods of Procurement

A. 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:

i. 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.

ii. 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. 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.

iii. 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 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. A record of the solicited sources along with copies of all quotes must accompany the purchase order. Notification shall be placed on the FCPS website for purchases that are expected to exceded $30,000 in value.

B. Competitive Sealed Bidding: 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 competitive sealed bidding. The Finance Department will advertise and issue an Invitation for Bids (IFB) to qualified vendors. When using this method, the specifications and/or scope of work must be capable of being described accurately and completely so that responses can be evaluated against the description in the IFB and award made to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. IFBs will be posted 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.

C. Competitive Negotiation for Professional Services:

i. 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 $60,000 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 $60,000 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.

ii. 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.

iii. 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 publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the contract is to be performed and shall be posted on the FCPS website. In addition, proposals may be solicited directly from potential contractors.

iv. 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.

D. Competitive Negotation for Goods or Services Other than Professional Services

i. Conditions for Use:

Upon a determination made in advance by the Superintendent and set forth in writing that competitive sealed bidding is either not practicable or not fiscally advantageous to the public; goods, services, or insurance may be procured by competitive negotiation. The writing shall document the basis for this determination.

Construction may be procured only by competitive sealed bidding, unless a determination is made in advance by the Superintendent that competitive sealed bidding is either not practicable or not fiscally advantageous to the public. The expected project cost for construction projects procured through competitive negotiation shall not exceed $1 million.

ii. Request for Proposal:

The Finance Department shall issue a written Request for Proposal 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.

iii. 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 publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the contract is to be performed and and publicly in a designated public area. In addition, proposals may be solicited directly from potential contractors.

iv. Selection and Award:

Selection shall be made of two or more offerors deemed to be fully qualified and best suited among those submitting proposals, on the basis of the factors involved in the request for proposal, including price if so stated in the request for proposal. Negotiations shall then be conducted with each of the offerors selected. Price shall be considered, but need not be the sole determining factor. After negotiations have been conducted with each offeror selected, FCPS shall award the contract to the offeror who best meets the requirements of the request for proposals. 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 than the others under consideration, a contract may be negotiated and awarded to that offeror.

E. Sole Source Purchases: A sole source procurement is authorized when there is only one source practicably available for the goods or services required. For sole source purchases exceeding $5,000 a written determination is required by the account manager and must be approved in advance by the Purchasing Supervisor documenting that there is only one source practicably available for that, which is being procured. Competition is not available in sole source situations, thus distinguishing it from a proprietary purchase where the product/service required is restricted to the manufacturer(s) stipulated, but is sold through distributors and competition can be obtained. Copies of sole source awards shall be posted to the FCPS website.

F. 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. Additionally, buyers are responsible for obtaining a fair and reasonable price in emergency situations. A written justification establishing the basis for the emergency purchase and for the selection of the particular vendor, shall accompany the purchase requisition. 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. Copies of emergency awards shall be posted to the FCPS website.

G. Cooperative Procurement:

i. 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. If FCPS enters into a cooperative procurement agreement with a county, city, or town whose governing body has adopted alternative policies and procedures, then FCPS shall comply with the alternative policies and procedures adopted by the governing body of such county, city, or town. All cooperative contracts entered into or used by FCPS shall be based on the competitive principles intended by the VPPA.

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

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

iv. FCPS may purchase goods and non-professional services from a U.S. General Services Administration contract or a contract awarded by any other agency of the U.S. government provided the terms of the contract permit such purchases.

v. 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.

H. 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:

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

ii. Academic/ research consulting services

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

iv. 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

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

vi. Professional organizational membership dues

vii. Writers

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

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

x. 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)

xi. Accreditation fees, testing, and evaluation services

xii. Used equipment and materials

xiii. Surplus property

xiv. Utility charges

xv. Fund Raisers

I. Other Exceptions

i. 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.:
  • Parts and supplies used in conjunction with maintenance and repair of existing equipment and costing up to $30,000 may be procured 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 purchasing staff 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 purchasing staff for acceptability. If necessary, purchasing staff 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 purchasing staff 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 purchasing staff for acceptability. If necessary, purchasing staff 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 year end funds.
5. Purchase Options for Goods

A. 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.

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

C. 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.

D. 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.

E. 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.

F. 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. In such determination, the account manager shall verify the condition of the equipment, its future usefulness, that there is only one source practicably available from which the used equipment can be procured, and justification as to why the purchase would be in the best interest of FCPS. If the estimated cost exceeds $50,000, the Finance Department shall post a notice of intent to award a non-competitive procurement for used equipment for ten (10) calendar days prior to the date of award.

6. Purchase Options for Services

A. 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.

B. 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.

C. 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.

D. 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

A. 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. When signing the receiving report to verify receipt of goods and services, the account manager or his/her designee should carefully inspect the merchandise for hidden damage and defects and ensure that the items ordered are the same items received. The Buildings and Grounds Department shall inspect each shipment that is delivered to the warehouse for visible damage and conformity to the specifications of the bid, proposal or purchase order. For each delivery, the administrator or designee shall counter-sign the delivery ticket or packing slip for items when they are received.

B. When goods or services have been received, they must be checked against the packing slip and notation made of items not delivered. An authorized person will sign and date the receiver of goods copy of the purchase order and send it, as well as the original invoice, if it is available, to an accounts payable specialist in the Finance Department.

C. No merchandise will be returned to the vendor before the accounts payable specialist has received a written notification that includes the purchase order number.

D. The Finance Department must be notified when orders are canceled.

8. Purchases Made Using School-based Funds:

A. 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 $60,000 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.

B. 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.

C. 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 a Contract Administrator sending a letter to the Superintendent recommending debarment and providing all the pertinent facts to support that recommendation. The Superintendent also has the abilility 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:
Code of Virginia, Virginia Public Procurement Act, Title 2.2, Chapter 43.
Code of Virginia, § 22.1-241, Contracts with Publishers



Approved: 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