General Fiscal Guidance
General Fiscal Guidelines apply to all federal grants that DPI administers and as such, all finance officers and program directors should be familiar with them. The General Fiscal Guidance (March 11, 2019) document was designed to assist LEAs and other subgrantees in administering their federal grants.
Provisions and Assurances
Depending on the federal grant program, various provisions and assurances may apply. Currently, each DPI program office incorporates an assurances document into the grant application.
Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (34 CFR), known as the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR), pertains to federal grants administered by DPI. For a complete description of the federal regulations that apply to federal education grant awards, visit the U.S. Department of Education's EDGAR website.
The Federal Uniform Grant Guidance (2 CFR, Part 200) is a government-wide framework for grants management provided to assist in complying with regulations issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which pertain to federal grants. The Uniform Guidance was implemented in December 2014 and supersedes guidance from earlier OMB Circulars. Access the full Uniform Guidance and the Uniform Guidance Technical Assistance for Grantees.
Uniform Guidance and EDGAR require all subrecipients of Federal funds to document certain grant procedures to help meet compliance by outlining the steps necessary to ensure allowable grant costs and methods such as general procurement standards. Pursuant to UG and EDGAR, policies and procedures that MUST be in writing include:
|Required Internal Control||Authorizing Citation|
Conflict of Interest
Compensation – Personal Services
Segregation of Duties
2 CFR §200.319(c)
2 CFR §200.302(b)(6), §200.305
2 CFR §200.302(b)(7)
2 CFR §200.318(c)
2 CFR §200.313(d)
2 CFR §200.430(a)(1)
2 CFR §200.474(b)
2 CFR §200.303(a)
The following documents are provided as a resource to assist LEA and other subgrantees in developing compliant policies and procedures for federal grants:
The Uniform Guidance identifies 55 "items of cost" that receive clarification regarding the allowability, in general, for using Federal funds (2 CFR, Subpart E - Cost Principles). In addition, this section of the regulations provides guidance on "basic considerations" to apply to all costs, listed or not listed.
The Allowable Costs Under Federal Grants Checklist is provided as a resource to assist LEAs and other subgrantees in administering their grants.
One of the areas of significant change under the UG are the procurement standards, a component of Subpart D, Post-Award Requirements, contained in Sections 200.317 through 200.326. These sections include the applicable procurement standards, methods of procurements to be followed, and details of specific items that must be included within contracts under federal awards. UG procurement standards focus on increased competition, documentation, and maintaining a consistent procurement process.
UG requirements related to procurement took effect July 1, 2018 for non-federal entities. On June 20, 2018, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Memorandum (M-18-18) to announce updates for procurements made under federal financial assistance awards. The threshold for micro-purchases for grants and cooperative agreements raised from $3,500 to $10,000, and the threshold for simplified acquisitions increased to $250,000 for all recipients. OMB memo M-18-18 is available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/M-18-18.pdf.
Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) should revise their internal procurement policies to implement the new thresholds to help ensure they have sufficient documentation to show appropriate internal controls and compliance with federal requirements. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §200.318(i) states the nonfederal entity "must maintain records sufficient to detail the history of procurement," which include "rationale for the method of procurement, selection of contract type, contractor selection or rejection, and the basis for the contract price."
The following guidance documents are provided to assist grantees in administering their grants:
Micro-Purchases (< $10,000)
A micro-purchase is a purchase of supplies or services using simplified acquisition procedures, the aggregate amount of which does not exceed the micro-purchase threshold. The LEA can use micro-purchases to expedite the completion of its lowest-dollar small purchase transactions and minimize the associated administrative burden and cost. The micro-purchase threshold was previously $3,500 but has now been increased to $10,000, effective July 1, 2018. Please note that the threshold of $10,000 must be considered in the aggregate over the entire period of applicable federal grants. Therefore, the cost of items purchased using the micro-purchase method is cumulative across the grant year and cannot exceed a total of $10,000.
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) published revisions to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (2 C.F.R. Part 200) (the “Uniform Guidance”). Key revisions to the Uniform Guidance include:
Self-Certification Option for Higher Micro-Purchase Threshold
The updates to the Uniform Guidance did not change the micro-purchase threshold; the current micro-purchase threshold remains $10,000. A subrecipient does not need to solicit competitive price or rate quotations when awarding a micro-purchase if it considers the price to be “reasonable based on research, experience, purchase history or other information and documents it files accordingly”.
However, 2 CFR 200.320 provides PSUs with the ability to raise, via annual self-certification, the micro-purchase threshold to a “higher threshold consistent with State, local, tribal laws and regulations” and which cannot exceed $50,000. State and local procurement laws must be addressed in any higher threshold that is established. (2 CFR 300.17 and 2 CFR 300.18) LEA’s, Regional, LAB, and Charter Schools are subject to different procurement requirements and the thresholds allowed will be different.
LEA’s, Regional, and LAB schools are subject to North Carolina procurement laws, under the new Uniform Guidance requirements, an LEA, Regional, or LAB school that completes the annual self-certification may raise the micro-purchase threshold of $10,000 via annual self-certification up to the North Carolina State threshold of $30,000 for the purchase of “goods” or the purchase of “construction or repair work”, and to $50,000 for service contracts other than those subject to the Mini-Brooks Act. Local and tribal procurement laws may be more restrictive and must be addressed in certifying a higher threshold.
Charter Schools are not subject to North Carolina procurement laws. Under the new Uniform Guidance requirements, a Charter School that completes the annual self-certification may raise the micro-purchase threshold of $10,000 via annual self-certification up to the $50,000 threshold. Local procurement laws may be more restrictive and must be addressed in certifying a higher threshold.
A PSU must maintain documentation supporting the self-certification of a higher micro-purchase threshold and must make such documentation available to a Federal awarding agency or auditor upon request in accordance with 2 C.F.R. 200.334. When self-certifying a higher micro-purchase threshold, a PSU self-certification must include:
- a justification for the threshold;
- a clear identification of the threshold amount; and
- supporting documentation of any of the following:
- a qualification as a low-risk auditee, in accordance with the criteria in § 200.520 for the most recent audit;
- an annual internal institutional risk assessment to identify, mitigate, and manage financial risks; or
- for public institutions, a higher threshold consistent with State law.
The self-certified micro purchase threshold only applies to federal awards received after November 12, 2020, the effective date of the Uniform Guidance revisions.
Under the Uniform Guidance, NC DPI does not need to approve a PSU’s self-certification to a higher micro-threshold. However, to ensure that DPI can effectively monitor compliance with procurement requirements during standard fiscal monitoring activities, DPI plans to establish a process for PSUs to provide formal notice to NC DPI of approved increases in their micro-purchase threshold. Additional information may be required to substantiate compliance with the self-certification process during normal monitoring activities.
To ensure smooth implementation of these new requirements, DPI recommends following:
- The self-certification should be approved by the PSU’s Board. UNC SOG recently suggested a resolution process to self-certify. This document has been reviewed by DPI and can be found in the following blog post.
- Self-certification procedures should be clearly documented.
- Responsibility for implementing the annual self-certification procedures should be clearly assigned.
- If a PSU does not qualify as a low-risk auditee, the PSU should be sure to address all elements of the required risk assessment, which should result in a systematic way of identifying, mitigating, and managing financial risks.
If you have any questions about the updates to the Uniform Guidance micro-purchase requirements, please send an email to Shirley.McFadden@dpi.nc.gov.
Small Purchase Acquisition ($10,000 - < $250,000)
Procurement by small purchase procedures uses a relatively simple and informal method of procuring services, supplies, or other property that do not cost more than the simplified acquisition threshold. The small purchase procedures require price or rate quotations from an adequate number of qualified sources. Although EDGAR does not define how many price quotations are considered an adequate number, School Business recommends at least three price quotations. As of July 1, 2018, the simplified acquisition threshold was increased from $150,000 to $250,000. The threshold should be considered as an aggregate amount within the grant period of the applicable grant.
However, North Carolina General Statute requires competitive procurement methods be used for purchases valued at $90,000 or more. If an item costs less than $90,000, state rules allow an LEA to utilize price quotations to stimulate competition and to attempt to receive the most favorable pricing. Therefore, since State law is more restrictive than the EDGAR procurement rules, the simplified acquisition threshold under EDGAR does not apply to purchases of goods made with federal funds costing $90,000 or more.
Simplified Acquisition (> =$250,000)
Provide complete descriptions and realistic specifications to three (3) or more sources that are willing and able to provide goods or services. A fixed-price contract will be awarded, and vendor can be selected on price or other factors.
A request for proposal (RFP) must be issued. Evaluation factors and importance must be identified. The LEA must issue RFPs to three (3) or more entities and have a written method of evaluation prepared in advance.
Noncompetitive Procurement Proposals
- Federal Funds Noncompetitive Procurement Request
- To submit a noncompetitive procurement proposal please download the above form. Complete the form in its entirety, ensuring all questions are answered. Submit the completed form via email to ProcurementWaiversTeam@dpi.nc.gov and attach any additional documentation. The email, form, and additional documentation will be your official 'request' for a noncompetitive procurement waiver. One request must be submitted for each individual issue (e.g., one email / request per vendor); they cannot be combined.
Procurement by noncompetitive proposals is procurement through solicitation of a proposal from only one source and may be used only when one or more of the following circumstances apply:
- The item is available only from a single source;
- The public exigency or emergency for the requirement will not permit a delay resulting from competitive solicitation;
- The Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity expressly authorizes noncompetitive proposals in response to a written request from the non-Federal entity; or
- After solicitation of a number of sources, competition is determined inadequate.
As the pass-through entity for programs authorized under ESSA, IDEA, CTE, et al, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction may waive competitive procurement requirements in accordance with 2 CFR §200.320(f)(3). A request for noncompetitive procurement must include the vendor, funding source (federal program and PRC), scope of work/deliverables, total cost and a detailed justification. School Business will communicate with appropriate federal program staff to determine final approval.
* LEA may have different "simplified acquisition threshold" (e.g., $10,000 maximum for micro-purchases or maximum $250,000 for small purchases). If LEA has a lower simplified acquisition threshold, the LEA must use its simplified acquisition threshold for the above purchase methods.
The following table (as developed by the UNC School of Government) outlines procurement requirements when using federal funds for services and goods. UNC School of Government (SOG) Uniform Guidance Procurement microsite
The LEA must comply with the more restrictive of federal, state, and LEA requirements:
Micro-Purchase - No required quotes. However, must consider price as reasonable, and, to the extent practical, distribute equitably among suppliers.
$10,000 or less
Must use more restrictive
$10,000 or less
Small Purchase Procedures (Informal) – Obtain/document quotes from a reasonable number of qualified sources (at least three).
$10,000.01 - $90,000
Must use more restrictive
$10,000.01 - $250,000
Service contracts not subject to state competitive bidding requirements.
Sealed Bids / Competitive Bids (Formal)
$90,000.01 or more
Must use more restrictive
$250,000 or more
Service contracts subject to state competitive bidding requirements.
Appropriate only when:
Uniform Guidance requirements require prior written approval for capital expenditures, which would include construction projects. Education Department General Administrative Requirements (EDGAR) precludes the use of federal funds for use on construction unless the grant has specifically allowed this use.
If you are a recipient of federal funds that are administered by NC DPI, please ensure that your organization has obtained the appropriate approval from the applicable Program Division at DPI before spending federal funds on construction expenditures.
If your organization has received approval for using federal funds on construction activities, information in this document outlines the Uniform Guidance and EDGAR laws and responsibilities applicable to your organization and those laws that you must ensure your organization’s contractors must meet to ensure compliance and allowability of the associated expenditures.
Federal Requirements for Federally Funded Construction Activities updated January 28, 2022