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UNITED STATES MINT
PROCUREMENT GUIDELINES
(6/2002)

1.  BACKGROUND

The U.S. Mint's Public Enterprise Fund, 31 U.S.C. 5136, states:  "provisions of law governing procurement or public contracts shall not be applicable to the procurement of goods or services necessary for carrying out Mint programs and operations."

The intent and effect of the legislation is to enable the Mint to effectively operate as a profit-making, manufacturing, direct marketing, and retail business.

2.  PURPOSE

These guidelines are established to broadly delineate Mint policy for carrying out procurements that do not fall under established procurement laws and regulations, including the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the Department of Treasury Acquisition Regulation (DTAR).  Any supporting internal acquisition procedures that may be subsequently developed to carry out Mint programs shall be consistent with these general principles.

3.  SCOPE

The policies contained herein are applicable to all procurements conducted in the Office of Procurement.

No right of action in any Federal court or in any administrative body is created by these guidelines.  Procurements made pursuant to Section 522 of PL 104-52 are not subject to judicial review, as it is the clear intent of the legislative language that such review is precluded.  (See Design Pak v. James Baker, III, et al., 639 F.Supp 301 (D.Ms. 1985).

4.  GENERAL PROCUREMENT OPERATIONAL POLICIES

A.  Maximum System Efficiency.  The goal of all procurement offices shall be to acquire products and services that will provide the best value to the Mint in a timely manner that most effectively meets program needs.  The waiver of provisions of law governing procurement or public contracts allows the Mint to satisfy this objective free of the normal constraints of federal procurement.  The acquisition process shall, accordingly, encourage flexibility, innovation, responsiveness, and the use of sound business judgment, consistent with the general principles set forth herein. In order to ensure that maximum efficiency is achieved, internal rules, policies, and procedures shall only be promulgated when their benefits clearly exceed the costs of their development, implementation, administration and enforcement.

B.  Team Approach and Planning.  Effective purchasing management requires customer and procurement personnel to play complementary team roles throughout the acquisition cycle.  At the earliest planning stages, Procurement's involvement is crucial to ensuring that sourcing and scheduling decisions are made in time to meet program requirements.  Team personnel need to share valuable information such as technical expertise and prior experience as well as provide useful information regarding potential sources or budgetary constraints.  Early communication with the commercial sector also helps determine capabilities available in the marketplace.  Successfully meeting program objectives can only result from informed efforts on the part of all involved in an atmosphere of open communication and unity of purpose.  At all working levels decisions need to be made based upon the needs defined by the customer and the business and policy considerations that Procurement can help present.  Major decisions regarding source selection or contract administration issues should be a collaborative effort between the senior procurement representative and the senior management responsible for the requirement, or their designees.  In areas where the Mint does not have resident expertise, the responsible Procurement professional will request outside advice from experts.  For example, in the case of leasing requirements, the Mint would use GSA or a commercial real estate consultant to help plan and execute the procurement.

C.  Integrity.  The acquisition team shall be held to Department standards of conduct in performing their duties and shall conduct themselves so as to avoid even the appearance of any impropriety.  An essential consideration in every aspect of the acquisition process must be maintaining the public trust.  Members of the acquisition team shall not take part in any action that may result in or create the appearance of a loss of complete independence or impartiality or adversely affect the public's confidence in the integrity of the Mint.

D.  Contracting Officer Authority.  Duly appointed contracting officers of the Mint are responsible for entering into, administering, and terminating contracts, and for making related determinations and decisions with respect to procurement matters.  Contractual commitments and changes to contracts may be made only by duly appointed contracting officers acting within the limits of their authority.  The only exceptions are: 1) small dollar purchases that fall within the monetary limitations established for purchase cards and blanket purchase agreements; and 2) other delegations as determined by the Assistant Director for Procurement.

Field purchasing authority shall be the simplified purchasing threshold, as determined by the Assistant Director for Procurement.  Purchasing authority is unlimited for commercial off-the-shelf purchases.  Field offices may also issue delivery orders under the contracts assigned to them for administration.

An unauthorized commitment, that is, a contractual action that is not binding because the Mint representative who made it lacked the authority to enter into that agreement, shall be coordinated with the Assistant Director for Procurement.  Ratification shall be made only after proper expenditure authority has been obtained.  The Mint should take positive action to preclude, to the maximum extent possible, the need for ratification of contracting actions.

E.  Source Selection.  Source selection should be a streamlined commercial-style approach that enables the Mint to quickly choose a best-value solution in a competitive environment.  The most highly qualified contractors should be identified early on, limiting the investment of contractor time and resources.  Negotiations should be conducted where it is practical and efficient to do so.  The goal is to negotiate the most current, effective purchase terms possible within the time constraints of the program being served.  This should be dictated by total cost and market conditions.  Emphasis should be placed on achieving maximum contractor performance.

Discussions may encompass quality, delivery, price, and any other terms and conditions relating to performance under the contract.  The factors that will be considered in source selection and the relative importance of those factors are completely within the broad discretion of the Mint.  Award decisions will be based on that offer which, after evaluation in accordance with selection criteria, is determined to be in the best interest of the Mint.

Source selection is an extremely critical part of the procurement process.  Accordingly, technical evaluations performed on competitive procurements shall be documented to support the conclusions reached by the evaluating team.  A written selection decision document shall be prepared which shows the relative differences between proposals and the sound comparative judgments made that led to the selection decision

F.  Competition.  Competition can result in significant cost savings and better quality products and services.  Competition can enhance design innovations because of the diversity of ideas and approaches available in a competitive environment.  Competition reduces the risk of having to rely on only one source for critical goods or services.  The Mint shall balance these considerations with the program benefits that can be gained from a reduced supplier base and building strategic alliances with its suppliers.  The degree of competition sought will be influenced by knowledge of the marketplace and successful past performance records, with competition in most cases limited to a reasonable number of capable sources.

Competitive quotations will not generally be sought for purchases under $5,000. Single source procurements over $5,000 shall be documented in a memorandum approved by the Contracting Officer.  Additionally, the Assistant Director for Procurement shall approve single source procurements above $25,000.

G.  Simplified Purchasing.  Simplified purchase procedures are designed to reduce administrative costs and expedite delivery of needed supplies or services.  Simplified purchase procedures may include the use of purchase cards, purchase orders, and blanket purchase agreements.  The purchase card, used within the operating offices, is the preferred purchase/payment method for small dollar commercial items up to $5,000.

H.  Internal Controls.  Procurement internal quality reviews shall be conducted utilizing a two-tier review system and additional Procurement Policy and Oversight and Legal review in accordance with established Mint internal review procedures.  Actions subject to review, prior to execution, include solicitations, contracts, modifications, decisions on claims, and proposed terminations.  All reviews will be conducted on an expedited basis.

The contract file shall contain documentation necessary to record the basis for key decisions made and actions taken during the solicitation, evaluation, award, and administration phases of the procurement.

I.  Reporting.  The Treasury Acquisition Data System (TADS) is the single, Treasury-wide, data collection system for individual contract actions and purchases, feeding into the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS).  All contract actions of any dollar amount and purchase orders over $25,000 shall be reported to TADS.  Purchases of $25,000 or less shall be reported through the quarterly Summary Contract Action Report.

J.  Contract Terms and Conditions.  U.S. Mint General Provisions, issued by the Office of  Procurement, Policy and Oversight Division, shall be incorporated into all contracts.  In addition, Procurement Policy and Oversight will maintain a database of standard Mint clauses to be used when applicable.  Terms and conditions customarily applied in the commercial marketplace should be used when appropriate.

Any claim for relief filed by a contractor shall be subject to decision by the Contracting Officer.  If the parties cannot reach an agreement mutually satisfactory after diligently pursuing a solution through discussions and negotiations, the Contracting Officer shall make a final decision. The Contracting Officer's decision shall prevail unless the contractor submits an appeal to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in accordance with the Mint's Disputes general provision. The decision of the CFO shall be final and binding on the parties.

K.  Small Business Program.  The Mint is committed to the Small Business and Javits-Wagner-O Day (JWOD) Programs and recognizes the importance of small businesses to the national economy and the importance of supporting employment for people who are blind or severely disabled.  Thus, the Mint shall ensure that small, minority, and women-owned businesses, as well as non-profit agencies associated with the JWOD Program, are given the opportunity to participate in Mint contracting activities to the maximum extent practicable, consistent with the Mint mission.

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