Acquisition Services FAQs

General | Client | Funding | COR | Vendor | IGCE | IPP

General Questions

What is an interagency acquisition?

According to OMB's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Interagency acquisition is the term used to describe the procedure by which an agency needing supplies or services obtains them using another agency’s contract, the acquisition assistance of another agency, or both. Interagency acquisitions typically involve two government agencies: the requesting agency, which is the agency with the requirement, and the servicing agency which provides acquisition support, administers contracts for other agencies’ direct use, or both.

What is an Interagency Agreement?

An Interagency Agreement is an agreement or ordering document between federal agencies transferring funds for the purpose of obtaining products or services. These agreements have specific names, such as the Military Interdepartmental Purchase Requirement for the Department of Defense. Both the IA and the MIPR are now included in a specific document referred to as a Part B. 

What is the specific definition of "bona fide need?"

Two links provided below should answer the questions regarding bona fide need.

  • Advisory elaborating on the definition of a bona fide need: Principles of federal Appropriations Law: The Bona Fide Needs Rule, Chapter 5, GAO Red Book
  • Virtual Acquisition Office: A Business Manager's Guide to the Bona Fide Needs Rule. The link is offered by the Interior Business Center with permission from Acquisition Solutions, Inc., a government contracting consultant.
Who determines the bona fide need for a project?

The federal client, or requesting agency, is responsible for determining the bona fide need within the fiscal year of the availability of funds.

What determines that the bona fide needs will be met by a federal client’s statement?

Clients are responsible for submitting a bona fide needs statement that clearly, concisely, and completely describes the legitimate requirement(s) that arose during, or continued to exist into, the fiscal year of the funds to be transferred to the Interior Business Center for acquiring goods and services.

The bona fide needs statement must also describe a project that will fulfill the requirement(s), and IBC shall only acquire goods and services on behalf of its client to complete the project.

No changes may be made to the bona fide needs statement after the expiration of the relevant fiscal year, thus, it is best for the client to describe as broadly as possible the goods and services necessary to complete its project without sacrificing the specificity that is necessary to properly record obligations under federal fiscal law.

Does use of IBC's Acquisition Services offer federal agencies the ability to extend an appropriation’s period of availability?

No. The Interior Business Center complies with federal fiscal law and cannot use time-limited funds to acquire goods and services to meet bona fide needs that arise after their period of availability has expired. IBC operates under the authority of the Government Management Reform Act of 1994, and may therefore retain funds and award contracts after the close of a fiscal year. Nevertheless, the fiscal year identity of such retained funds is preserved. It is the joint responsibility of IBC and its clients to ensure that contracts are awarded within a reasonable period of time after the close of the fiscal year to meet bona fide needs that arose during, or continued into, the period of availability.

If for any reason IBC cannot promptly initiate contract action to ensure that a contract is awarded within a reasonable time after the close of the fiscal year, IBC may have to deobligate the retained funds and return them to the client. Consequently, IBC communicates regularly with client agencies to keep them informed of the status of their funds and related contract actions.

Can you carry funds into the next fiscal year?

Funds must be obligated on a contract in the year they are appropriated to be spent. IBC complies with acquisition rules and regulations and does not allow money to be spent in years that do not match the appropriation. All funds sent to IBC must be accompanied by a bona fide need that is written by the client. There is a responsibility by both IBC and the client to spend those funds within a reasonable period of time. IBC's Acquisition team communicates with the client agency to keep customers informed of the status of their money.

Are you a full service contracting office or do you use only available GWACs for your clients?

We are full service and appropriately look at the time an acquisition must be in place for our client, what options are available, and make decisions specific to each requirement.

Although we can create a contract through competing on the open market, we will consider options such as the General Services Administration schedules, Government-wide Acquisition Contracts, Blanket Purchase Agreements, and our own Acquisition Services Directorate Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity. Another direction could be through the SBA’s small business programs such as the 8(a) or Service-disabled Veteran Owned programs.

How long does it typically take to award a contract?

The Procurement Action Lead Time is our record of performance. We depend on meeting acquisition milestones in order to be timely in awards. A lot of the timing depends on the client, and the package submitted to us. For most clients, award times range from 45 to 60 days.

When we first speak with you, we are interested in your award date expectations. In fact, if a program manager needed something yesterday, and still believes that is a reality, there is a good chance that opportunity will not come in our direction. We make commitments to the best of our knowledge at hand, and will be realistic as to award date expectations.

I'd like to make an official Freedom of Information Act request regarding a contract that was awarded through the Interior Business Center. Who do I contact?

Please review the information below, and contact the DOI FOIA Office if you have a request. Contact information is available on the DOI website at The Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 to increase the openness and transparency of the federal Government. Under the law, Government documents must be available to members of the public that request them, unless there is a legitimate reason to deny the request. The intent of the law is to allow both citizens and journalists to examine Government activity to detect political corruption and to allow citizens to have input into Government decisions that affect them.

Does the Interior Business Center return all award credits to the funding agency?

Yes. Please visit the NIST website and open publication SP 800-87 to locate your Agency / Organization Identification Code.

Does the federal government offer information related to Blanket Purchase Agreements and DOI office supply purchases?

Yes, effective October 1, 2010, there is new guidance. Please refer to the Department of the Interior memorandum on the General Services Administration Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative mandate on Blanket Purchase Orders for Office Supplies. Likewise, the Office of Acquisition and Property Management, a part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, has a page dedicated to DOI Integrated Charge Card Program Purchase Cardholders.

Client Questions

How do I initiate sending work to IBC's Acquisition Services?

First, send a Statement of Work, Performance Work Statement or Statement of Objectives to IBC's Acquisition Services. IBC will either accept the work in principle, or reject it based on our core competencies. We also ask that you give us the requirement dollar value and expected contract award date.

I’m with the DOI Office of the Secretary. Are there unique requirements that I should be aware of?

Yes, please refer to the DOI requisitions guidance page for helpful information.

To whom does the client submit their Interagency Agreement?

All documentation should be submitted to a new business agent. Your Interagency Agreement is included in Part B.

Does the Interior Business Center use government purchase credit cards for clients?

No, IBC does not make purchases for clients using government purchase cards.

What is Green Procurement?

Green Procurement, also termed Affirmative Procurement, refers to the purchase of environmentally preferable products and services in accordance with one or more of the established federal Green Procurement preference programs. IBC complies with all Green Procurement requirements, including legislation, regulations, orders, memorandums, and policies.

How can the IBC's Acquisition Services help my organization become compliant with environmentally related procurement requirements?

Our Green Procurement program includes a comprehensive training component for contracting personnel to ensure that clients receive the most up-to-date and cost-effective methods for complying with environmentally related procurement while still providing the same level of service our clients expect and deserve.

Civilian Agency Questions

If I am a civilian agency employee, what approvals do I need to go outside of my agency for contracting support?

Approvals required to obtain contracting support from the Interior Business Center vary from agency to agency. Please review your agency’s procedures in order to ensure compliance prior to executing an interagency agreement with IBC's Acquisition Services.

I am a civilian agency employee. Do I need to contact my internal contracting office before I go outside my agency for contracting support?

As a basic guideline, provided by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, a requesting agency should consider the following

For an assisted acquisition outside of the Economy Act (over $200,000 under $500,000):

  • Requesting office provides notice of the planned interagency acquisition to the head of the acquisition office within the requesting agency
  • Notice requirements:
  1. Brief description of the service or product
  2. Estimated dollar amount
  3. Name of the external acquisition organization (that will provide the acquisition assistance
  4. Sent by electronic mail with return receipt
  • The notifier allows the internal acquisition office one week to respond to the notice before the request is sent to the outside servicing acquisition office.

For an assisted acquisition outside of the Economy Act (over $500,000):

  • Requesting office provides notice of the planned interagency acquisition to the head of the acquisition office within the requesting agency
  • Notice requirements:
  1. Brief description of the service or product
  2. Estimated dollar amount
  3. Name of the external acquisition organization (that will provide the acquisition assistance)
  4. Sent by electronic mail with return receipt
  • The notifier allows the internal acquisition office one week to respond to the notice before the request is sent to the outside servicing acquisition office.
  • The notifier shall seek its concurrence and allow one week for response. Non-concurrences shall be presented to the requesting agency’s Senior Procurement Executive and resolved within one week of the non-concurrence.

Why has my acceptance not been received? How long does that take?

After five (5) business days, if you have not received an acceptance message, please contact the funding team at 703-964-8419 or email the funding team.

DoD Questions

If I am a Department of Defense employee, what approval do I need to go outside of my agency for contracting support?

Department of Defense employees are encouraged to review the information at the following link: Information on Non-Economy Act orders is available within the DoD Financial Management Regulation, Volume 11A, Chapter 18. This document also contains the Acquisition Package Checklist, which contains steps for maximizing value and key points to remember about assisted acquisitions. For all acquisitions in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold, the required approvals include: 1. An evaluation in accordance with your agency’s procedures to ensure that the order is in the best interest of DoD. 2. A certification by the appropriate DoD certifying official that the funds cited on the order are available, meet time limitations, and are for the purpose designated by the appropriation. 3. Information on orders greater than $500,000 including: a. A review by a DoD warranted contracting officer; and b. A review by the requesting official to ensure compliance with FAR 7 and your agency’s procedures. Work and services for Non-Economy Act orders outside DoD should be executed by issuance of a DD Form 448, Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request. A Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior, signed by Nina Rose Hatfield and Shay D. Assad in 2007, outlines specific terms and conditions for the provision of interagency acquisition services.

Funding Questions

Please email the Acquisition Services funding team to assist you with your Interagency Agreement or MIPR coding details.

Under what circumstances will the IBC accept Military Interdepartmental Purchase Requests?
We will accept MIPRs from any organization within DoD that is conducting business with us. Military Interdepartmental Purchase Requests are not always required. For end-of-year funding transfers by MIPR, please include a MIPR acceptance form as it will expedite processing. Acquisition Services Directorate cannot accept MIPRs on a Direct Citation (Category II) basis. Agencies should provide the following:
  • Please ensure that all MIPRs indicate a Reimbursement (Category I) indicator. The MIPR must include the point of contact's full name, phone number, and fax number, as well as an email address. IBC does not have Defense Switched Network capability. Once the MIPR is completed and signed for the requiring activity, the MIPR is to be faxed or scanned/emailed to IBC's Acquisition Services. The MIPR is processed and then the accepted document will be emailed back to the requiring activity point of contact. Please be sure to include a project description in sufficient detail to establish your bona fide need. Note: MIPRs shall include the following statement: THIS ORDER IS ISSUED UNDER THE EXPRESS AUTHORITY OF THE GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT REFORM ACT OF 1994 (P.L.103-356).

Contact the Funding Team to learn how to submit funding documents.

I’m with the DOI Office of the Secretary. Are there unique requirements that I should be aware of?

Yes, please refer to the DOI requisitions guidance page for helpful information.

What is the Trading Partner Number or IBC's Acquisition Services?

For non-Department of the Interior agencies, please use TPN 1400. For internal Department of the Interior offices and bureaus, please use TPN 14C8.

What is the FIPS Code and why do I need it?

The Federal Information Processing Standards Code is an alphanumeric code assigned to each agency and/or their division in order to track data. In procurement, it is a critical piece of information that allows the contracting office to assign award credits to the program that funded the project. Returning award credits to the funding agency gives the true picture of how that agency spends its program funds. Although IBC's Acquisition Services was sent the money to spend, and we in turn spend it on behalf of our clients. As an example, when the Small Business Administration needs to report how individual agencies met or exceeded their small business goals, the FIPS Code is a major component in deriving the data from the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation.

What if I have more than one appropriation number on a funding document?

The federal government financial database cannot support a funding document that lists two appropriations; therefore they must be listed separately. If an agency sends in a funding document that lists more than one appropriation number, it is required that funds be separated and cited in an accompanying document(s). The requesting agency must prepare a new funding document or record an amendment to the existing funding document.

What documents must accompany any funding sent from my agency to IBC's Acquisition Services?

All federal agencies are to complete Part A and Part B. Required by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, these documents serve an important purpose when an audit is conducted, plus, they add consistency in the process across the government. Part A is the service agreement. Simply stated, it is what you will do and what we will do to handle your acquisition. It gives specificity to the overall work that IBC will handle on your behalf, and gives guidance to the working relationship. Part B is the funding instrument. For civilian agencies, this is your Interagency Agreement. For DoD, this is the MIPR document. PART B provides information required to demonstrate the bona fide need and authorizes the transfer and obligation of funds. We have a team of people to assist you with these forms.

Can funding be submitted on a Direct Cite Basis?

No, IBC's Acquisition Services accepts funding under a "Reimbursable Basis" (Category I), and cannot accept funding under a "Direct Cite Basis" (Category II).

What happens to the funds transferred to IBC's Acquisition Services?

Unless special circumstances exist, funds will remain unused in your account until the first invoice is approved and vendor payment is made. Each time an invoice is paid to the vendor, IBC's Acquisition Services will submit its service fee for payment. The service fee on each invoice is calculated against the invoiced amount, and collected over the life of the contract.

COR Questions

What is my responsibility when recommending a COR to the IBC contracting officer?

The Contracting Officer’s Representative plays an important role in the administration and technical oversight of federal contracts. As our client agency, you should recommend individuals who have the technical, professional, and administrative qualifications to oversee contractor performance. Only those individuals meeting the training criteria outlined can be a COR. The contracting officer is the only one who has the legal authority to appoint the COR.

What are the training requirements for FAC-COR Certification?

The candidate must complete 40 hours of basic COR training not more than two years prior to an initial appointment as a COR. The training must be comprehensive, COR-specific training. It is not necessary to complete a single 40-hour class; a combination of short classes is acceptable as long as the classes total 40 hours. To maintain certification, an individual must complete a minimum of 40 continuous learning points (CLPs) of acquisition or COR related training every two years. Please verify the training requirements with your agency’s FAC-COR Program Coordinator. IBC verifies that current FAC-COR training certificates from your agency are qualified.

What are CEUs and CLPs?

Continuing Education Units and Continuous Learning Points are forms of measurement for training. CEUs are usually given for college courses or in-depth, long-term training. Each academic quarter or semester hour equals one CEU. One CEU equals ten CLPs. CLPs are usually given for less formal training or conferences.

Does IBC expect CORs to meet minimum training requirements?

Yes. Individuals nominated to serve as COR must meet the FAC-COR certification requirements for the duration of the contract. IBC follows The Office of Federal Procurement Policy with regard to COR training requirements. OFPP has outlined a structured COR training program in a November 26, 2007 Memorandum For Chief Acquisition Officers.

Where can I get COR training?

Many vendors offer competency-based COR training courses on a regular basis. Please review the COR Training document (online and classroom) for a list of vendors and links to course offerings. Online training is another way to meet some of your training requirements. The Defense Acquisition University offers many online acquisition related courses at no cost.

What is expected of a COR?

The COR is an authorized representative who coordinates technical issues with a contracting officer for resolution. The COR is responsible for the day-to-day technical oversight of contractor performance. The contracting officer appoints or terminates a COR based on the needs of each acquisition and the competency of the appointed COR. The appointed COR must only perform those duties and responsibilities as directed by the contracting officer.

I received an e-mail that looked strange --- it was from webptsmh --- informing me that I have been granted access to CPARS. What is CPARS?

CPARS is the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System. If you are a Receiving Official or FAC certified COR, part of that duty could encompass being an Assessing Official Representative within CPARS responsible for assessing the contractor’s performance. As of October 1, 2010, use of CPARS became mandatory in DOI for all actions estimated to be greater than the SAT for Supplies and Services. It is a system that has been used in Department of Defense for years and the Naval Sea Logistics Center Detachment Portsmouth has system administration responsibilities. The CPARS system is a web-enabled application that is accessed via the Internet website. CPARS hosts a suite of web-enabled applications that are used to document contractor and grantee performance information that is required by federal Regulations. The CPARS website offers links to CPARS (used for Services, IT, Operations Support type contracts), ACASS (A/E Contracts), CCASS (Construction), and FAPIIS (Contractor and Grantee Integrity information such as TforD, Non-responsibility, Defective Cost and Pricing Data, etc.) and also provides various items of interest including reference material, training information, frequently asked questions, best practices as well as other information.

Vendor Questions

How can I do business with the Interior Business Center?

IBC's Acquisition Services competes 70% of opportunities for contracts through vehicles such as GSA schedules or other government-wide acquisitions contracts. An estimated 20% of requirements are posted in FedBizOpps. Another 10% are attributable to 8(a) direct awards, competitive 8(a) awards, and client-driven sole source justifications. 

Who can I talk to if I am a small business?

We encourage small business to call one of DOI's Small Business Specialists. However, program managers are the key during the market research phase while requirements are being developed.

Is IBC a full-service environment, using various contract vehicles?

Yes. IBC is a full service acquisition office, which includes the acquisition life cycle -- market research, solicitation, negotiation, award, and contract administration through closeout. All modifications and electronic bill payment through IPP is included. We also purchase through the GSA schedules, government-wide acquisition contracts, Blanket Purchase Agreements, and IBC specific Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contracts. When appropriate, we compete full and open through FedBizOpps. Our organization works closely with the Small Business Administration to identify the most qualified Minority Owned 8(a) companies.

How long does it typically take to award a contract?

We are committed to satisfying award date expectations. Our contracting officers work with our clients on an acquisition plan, and specifically seek agreement on milestones to be achieved for each opportunity. Award time frame will vary depending on complexity of the project, and is thoroughly discussed with the program manager. Once the funding agreement is received, most clients are generally looking at 60-90 days for award. We can award more quickly, for example, if we are using an existing Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract or intend to make an 8(a) direct award.

Do you have different rules as an interagency contracting office?

IBC's Acquisition Services, like all other federal contracting environments, is guided by the federal Acquisition Regulation. Our warranted contracting officers have experience throughout the vast array of federal agencies and the DoD. As you may know, individual agencies or military services can give further restrictive guidance than what is stated in the FAR. For example, we follow DoD guidelines, and will use contract clauses to reflect DoD requirements.

If I introduce you to my customer, what's the next step?

We appreciate introductions and will include vendor companies as a suggested source for a proposal. It is important that clients make known from whom they would like to receive proposals. Your customers will be best served by having them call us at 703-964-3600 or email us.

What is CPARS and how am I involved?

CPARS is the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System

IGCE Questions

What is Independent Government Cost Estimate?

It is important to understand the significance of the Independent Government Cost Estimate. Along with the Statement of Work, the IGCE is an important document that has direct influence on how long it may take to execute an acquisition and, ultimately, the estimated cost of performance. It is not expected that individuals assigned as CORs will be expert cost estimators. Nor is it considered feasible that each receive specialized training in this area. It is necessary, however, that persons preparing the IGCE have "access" to individuals reasonably well trained in this discipline.

What is the purpose/importance of IGCE?

The government is entitled to receive quality supplies and services at fair prices. Under normal market conditions, competing offers ensure that adequate value is received. The contracting officer relies on the IGCE to assist in the determination of the acquisition strategy, as well as an estimated cost for the proposed effort. An under-estimated project can result in too little funding, delayed and iterative proposal processes, negotiation difficulties and delays, and other internal administrative problems.

What are the guidelines in generating IGCE?

The following are guidelines in generating the IGCE to be provided to the contracting officer: The IGCE can be calculated using prior historical rates and information The IGCE should include detailed breakdowns of estimates for material and travel, if/when applicable The IGCE should include methodology used for estimating the level of effort required The IGCE should be structured to identify and address each subtask

What is IGCE development methodology?

Development of the IGCE may be accomplished using one or a combination of methodologies. Several methodologies for IGCE development are identified and briefly explained below.

Historical Data

Often the proposed requirement is similar or a follow on to a previously performed requirement. When this is the case, a review and analysis of historical data can be utilized to formulate the IGCE for the new requirement. When using historical data, the preparer needs to ensure: The present requirement is very similar to the previous requirement and that adjustments are made to the IGCE to reflect any differences Learning curve efficiencies are factored into the IGCE, when appropriate, to recognize greater Contractor efficiencies Historical data reflects the most technically effective and cost efficient method to accomplish the requirements/effort Historical data is factored to account for differences in resource values over time (this will generally have an upward effect on estimates of labor costs, but may have a neutral or downward effect for costs such as equipment which may have declined in price in the marketplace) All reasonably accessible sources are utilized to gain analogous information (earlier efforts anywhere within other organizations, other Government agencies, commercial efforts, etc)

Industry Standards

For some types of work, (e.g., provisioning, technical documentation, and certain types of specification or software development) industry standards have been developed for the approximate number of hours and types of labor required to perform certain repetitive functions. These standards may be useful benchmarks from which to build the IGCE.

Documentation Methodology

As part of the documentation submitted to support the IGCE, the preparer should indicate how the IGCE was developed. If historical data was used, the source of such data should be identified. If standards were applied, reference to those should be indicated. Or if, for example, a work breakdown using in-house experience at doing similar work is utilized, reference to the particular project or other similar reference should be shown with the IGCE. This reference is important, both as a record to be used for reference for future efforts, and as evidence of the realism of the IGCE so that it can be relied on by the contracting officer, if necessary.

What are IGCE cost elements?

Each IGCE should address the below-listed cost elements. Along with each portion of the cost breakdown there should be an explanation of the rationale used to formulate the estimate.

Labor Mix/Hours

The IGCE should clearly indicate the labor categories and associated hours at each level to perform each task identified in the Statement of Work. For ease of evaluation and comparison, each task shall be listed in order in which it appears in the body of the SOW. In some cases where a particular task involves multiple functions; the preparer may want to further break down the IGCE according to these separate functions. Needless to say, if the SOW is broken down into subtasks, then there should be a separate analysis of each. One commonly overlooked consideration is in the area of overall management or direction. The preparer should include a reasonable number of hours for this function. The preparer of the IGCE should consider the skills required for task order accomplishments, not individuals. The Government is not bound to provide full-time employment for any Contractor employee. Show only the number of hours that will be productively utilized.


For the purposes of developing the IGCE, the preparer should assume all work under the SOW will be done by the prime Contractor even if the preparer knows or assumes the Contractor will propose subcontracting a portion of the requirement. It is the Contractor's responsibility to identify and propose work which it intends to subcontract.


The IGCE should be consistent with travel requirements identified in the SOW. The IGCE should clearly indicate the anticipated destinations, number of trips, number of personnel involved with each trip, and trip duration. (NOTE: Travel time should be considered when calculating the trip duration, e.g., if the Contractor is required to travel on Sunday for a Monday to Friday trip, the trip would be six days, not five. And, travel hours should be included in compensable labor hour estimates.) All rates utilized in the IGCE should be consistent with those specified in the federal Travel Regulations.

Other Direct Costs

The IGCE should identify all estimated costs other than labor and travel as ODC cost elements. The preparer of the IGCE should not include any cost element, whether it be a material or ODC, for general or miscellaneous office supplies. Such supplies are part of the Contractor's normal business operations cost and should not be included as direct cost unless such supplies are unique to requirements.

Can assistance from a contractor be acquired?

It is important to note that the Independent Government Cost Estimate must be developed without any assistance or input from a contractor. It is totally inappropriate to develop the IGCE using input from a contractor since the IGCE may be the basis for the government's negotiation position relative to the contractor's cost proposal.

IPP Questions

What is IPP?

The Internet Payment Platform is a secure web-based electronic invoicing and payment information service made available to all federal agencies and their vendors by the Department of Treasury’s Financial Management Service. To learn more about the program, please visit the IPP website.

I am a COR in an organization served by IBC's Acquisition Services. Which option should I be signing up for in IPP: Disburser, Disburser Administrator, or Supplier?

CORs should sign up as Disbursers. Vendors should sign up as Suppliers. Disburser Administrator is used in IPP to set up users and roles, assign permissions, create groups and assign members, define rules and validation for data entry and invoice submission, and create and schedule integration tasks.