Federal Regulations


Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution receives much of its funding from federal research funds and is required to maintain a federally approved purchasing system. An approved purchasing system complies with federal procurement regulations and internal purchasing policies and procedures.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) conducts a Contractor Purchasing System Review (CPSR) at WHOI every few years to evaluate compliance. A CPSR involves an examination of the entire purchasing system. It is not limited to federal funds. Purchases made with WHOI or other non-federal funds are reviewed for compliance with Institution Policies and procedures. Purchases made with federal funds are reviewed for compliance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and appropriate Office of Management and Budget circulars and regulations.

During a CPSR, the review team will randomly select a sample from our Purchase Order records for analysis. The Procurement Department is responsible for supplying supporting documentation. Required documentation can include purchase orders, invoices, copies of competitive quotes or proposals, justification of single/sole source justifications and appropriate price/cost analysis.

Grant and Contract Purchases

When processing any purchase at WHOI, you are required to provide the appropriate supporting documentation to the Procurement Department before a purchase can be made. The appropriate policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the appropriate federal regulations have been incorporated into the WHOI procurement system. Therefore, adherence to the policies and procedures noted in this guide will ensure compliance with most federal regulations.

Additional Federal Approval/Certifications

When using federal funds, there may be additional certifications and approvals required beyond those outlined in WHOI's Policies and Procedures. Requirements may vary from funding-to-funding source and are always subject to change. It is important to review the requirements of the sponsoring agency each time an award is made to ensure you are meeting the latest requirements of the sponsoring agency. Here are some of the standard requirements that are usually mandated:

  1. Nonsegregated Facilities - Certification is required from suppliers whose cumulative total awards will exceed $10,000 in one calendar year. The Procurement Office manages these certifications for suppliers we currently do business with. If a new supplier is planned for a project, please contact the Procurement Department to ensure this certification is in place.

  2. Certification of Non-Debarment- For all foreign and domestic suppliers receiving purchase orders of $25,000 or greater (per NSF Business Systems Review mandate).  All other suppliers receiving purchase orders of $30,000 or greater (per FAR 9.409).  Federal regulations and good business practices require WHOI to obtain written certification that the supplier has not been debarred (prohibited) from doing business with the federal government. A supplier is debarred for serious offenses such as embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery and other offenses indicating a lack of business integrity. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, debarment lasts anywhere from three years to indefinitely.

Although the Procurement Department maintains records of firms that have been debarred, the supplier must certify that they do not have debarred status at the time of a purchase. Again, a Procurement Team representative can assist you in obtaining these certifications.

  1. Clean Air and Water Certification - For purchases of $100,000 or greater the supplier must certify that they are in compliance with the Clean Air and Water Act prior to commitment.

  2. Certification and Disclosure Regarding Payments - Prior to commitment for purchases of $100,000 or greater, the supplier must disclose any federal lobbying they have been involved in.

  3. Insurance and Bonding Coverage for Federally Funded Construction Projects

  4. WHOI adheres to the Purchasing Procedures as delineated in 2 CFR 215.44

There are additional certifications required for purchases greater than $650,000. If you are involved in a procurement at this level, please consult with the Procurement Manager to ensure the appropriate certifications and approvals are in place.

Subcontracting Plans for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses

The Federal Acquisition Regulation requires a Subcontracting Plan for Small and Disadvantaged Business for each contract $650,000 and over. Prime contractors, such as WHOI, must agree to purchase a percentage of the supplies and services required for performance of the contract from small, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses. Some contracts may set specific goals. Most rely on the Institution to make a good faith effort. The Subcontracting Plan specifies:

  • which items/commodities will be purchased from small and disadvantaged businesses.
  • the total dollars to be spent each with small and disadvantaged businesses and the percentage of the total dollars budgeted for supplies and services that these purchases represent.
The Subcontracting Plan is submitted by the Principal Investigator before his/her research proposal and budget may be approved. The Procurement Team is best suited to assist the Principal Investigator in designing these plans because we maintain the database of WHOI supplier classifications, are involved in appropriate industry organizations that seek out and certify disadvantaged firms and have the marketplace knowledge to confirm the validity of goals. Please contact the Procurement Department to seek assistance in developing a manageable Subcontracting Plan.

Once a contract is awarded, the Subcontracting Plan becomes part of that contract. While the Principal Investigator is responsible for the plan, the Procurement Department maintains the records and submits appropriate reports concerning compliance.

However, Principal Investigators, Department Administrators and others involved in determining the allocation of funds should be familiar with the definitions of Small, Small Disadvantaged and Women-Owned Businesses:
  • Small Business - Generally less than 500 employees including affiliates, is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field of operation.

  • Small Disadvantaged Business - At least 51% owned, managed and operated on a daily basis by a member of a definable minority group. Definable minority groups include Afro-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Eskimos and Asian-Pacific Americans.

  • Women-Owned Business - At least 51% owned, managed and operated on a daily basis by a woman/women who is a United States citizen. Women-owned businesses are not considered disadvantaged, unless owned by a woman who is also a member of a definable minority group.

Last updated: January 22, 2015