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.

Subcontracting Plans for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses

The Federal Acquisition Regulation requires a Subcontracting Plan for Small and Disadvantaged Business for each contract $700,000 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 28, 2020