State agencies that oversee federal school nutrition programs review a school district’s procurement procedures to ensure they are in compliance with regulations. The procurement review is intended to provide technical assistance to ensure school districts purchase goods and services using full and open competition and use the nonprofit school food service funds on allowable costs.
In an effort to streamline the procurement review for both state agencies and school districts, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) developed and released the Local Agency Procurement Review Tool on July 1, 2016. The tool was tested by nine state agencies during school year 2015-2016 and feedback was incorporated into the final version. To provide reviewer consistency and help resolve challenges to the procurement review, the tool includes the following:
- A complete list of food vendors used.
- Contact info of person(s) in charge of procurement.
- Updates to processing data collected.
- How to prioritize the procurement selection.
- Review questions include a citation to the appropriate procurement regulation.
- Reviewer suggestions and tips for certain review questions.
- Checklists of documentation the SFA is using to review their Food Service Management (FSMC) contract.
Once the review is scheduled, the tool is provided to the school district. A collection of initial data will establish the procurements and contracts that have been entered into by the school district, and determine those to be reviewed including whether they will occur on or off-site.
The tool’s data collection abilities are extensive, but depending on the size of the school district reviewed, the reviewer may use only a small number of the review tabs. The tool includes a variety of well-organized tabs:
- General information tab: Allows state agency to obtain additional information about the review and provides a “one-stop-shop”1 for the school district to receive instructions.
- School district Procurement Table: School district documents procurements entered into during the course of the previous school year, in addition to, other required documentation.
- Procurement Selection Chart: Provides the reviewer the number and prioritized selection of contracts to be reviewed.
- Additional Review Tabs: The reviewer will answer questions pertaining to the school district’s procurement procedures and individual procurements and contracts from solicitation through evaluation and award.
- Summary of Findings: As findings are noted throughout the tool, they will be pulled into the appropriate review summary tab that creates efficiency for the reviewer in determining corrective action. The findings are reviewed to determine technical assistance opportunities.
- Procurement Regulations: Government-wide regulation resources are available to users who may not have internet access during a review.
The procurement tool’s effectiveness will be reviewed throughout school year 2017-18 and FNS encourages state agencies and school districts to provide feedback as they use the tool during the procurement review. Feedback may be submitted to the state agency’s USDA regional office.
The tool includes a visual representation overview of the procurement review steps in the order in which the review occurs.
Katie Ney and Ashley Moen, MS, RD, SNS, Colorado Department of Education
- USDA, Food and Nutrition Service. (2017). Local Agency Procurement Review Tool for School Year 2016-2017. Retrieved from: https://www.fns.usda.gov/local-agency-procurement-review-tool-school-year-2016-2017