Learn how we obtain supplies, services, and equipment needed to fulfill our mission.

What is a "Federal Acquisition?"

Making a "federal acquisition" means using a contract to purchase or lease supplies and services that the federal government needs. The appropriated funds can be used on supplies or services that are already in existence or those which must be created, developed, demonstrated, and evaluated.

Federal acquisitions include:

  • a description of requirements that will satisfy those needs
  • solicitations
  • a selection of sources
  • an award of contracts
  • contract financing
  • contract performance
  • contract administration
  • other related technical and management functions

BPAP: Our Acquisition Policy

BPAP is an acronym for "Bureau of Prisons' Acquisition Policy."

  • It was established to provide uniform acquisition policy for institutions and offices within the Bureau.
  • It supplements the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the Department of Justice Acquisition Regulations (JAR)
  • It was developed in accordance with FAR 1.301(c) and JAR 2801.301(d)(4)
  • It's maintained by the Procurement and Property Branch, a section under the BOP's Administration Division

Acquisition Regulations

BOP acquisitions are governed by statutes and rules defined by the:

Contracting Officers consult all three sources, as well as applicable Operations Memoranda, to ascertain the total acquisition policy in any area. Where internal implementation is required by the BPAP or where internal procedures supplement the BPAP coverage, Contracting Officers will refer to the Acquisition Technical Reference Manual. This document contains supplemental acquisition instruction and reference material which closely mirrors the BPAP. In fact the chapters and subparts are numbered to correlate with the BPAP to ensure that we maintain a consistent and compatible method of contracting.

Acquisition Methods

Our acquisition process is the same as other Federal agencies: when purchasing supplies and services our Contracting Officers must select a method that will best meet the needs of our agency. These methods include Simplified Acquisition Procedures (SAP), sealed bidding, or contracting by negotiation.

Simplified Acquisition Procedures (SAP)

For acquisitions valued at less than $150,000, Simplified Acquisition Procedures (SAP) may be used. This method involves obtaining either oral or written price quotes. The award is based on the quote that represents the best value to the BOP when price and other factors are considered.

Sealed Bidding

In sealed bidding, the solicitation document is referred to as an Invitation for Bids (IFB). The IFB is generated and posted to the FBO website. All bids are submitted sealed and kept in a secure place until the time and date specified in the IFB. Bids are then publicly opened, read, and made available for public inspection. A contract award is made to the responsible bidder whose bid, conforming to the IFB, represents the best value to the BOP, considering only price and price-related factors specified in the IFB.

Sealed bidding can be used when all four of these conditions exist:

  • Time permits the solicitation, submission, and evaluation of sealed bids
  • Award will be made on the basis of price and other price-related factors
  • Discussions with responding bidders will not be necessary
  • Receipt of more than one sealed bid is anticipated

If any of these conditions does not exist, the negotiation method must be used.

Contracting by Negotiation

The solicitation document for the negotiation method is commonly referred to as a Request for Proposal (RFP). It includes all of the information necessary for submitting a proposal, such as:

  • Where and when proposals must be submitted
  • The technical description and quantity of the required supplies or services
  • Time requirements for delivery or performance

There are two negotiation types, competitive and non-competitive.

Competitive negotiations

Vendors are asked to submit proposals and support them as necessary with information such as:

  • statements of estimated costs or other evidence of reasonable price
  • data on the company's management plans
  • past performance information
  • information to demonstrate and support the company's technical capabilities for the job

If necessary, the Contracting Officer establishes a competitive range and negotiates with each vendor whose offer falls within the competitive range. The Contracting Officer analyzes, questions, explores, and carefully negotiates all areas of the proposal, including cost and profit, performance requirements, delivery schedule, and methods of payment. The award, which is publicized via FBO, represents the best value to the BOP, considering factors such as technical competence, delivery, price, and past performance.

Non-Competitive Negotiation

At times, circumstances do not permit the use of competitive procedures. Federal agencies may then use the negotiation method on a non-competitive or a very restricted competitive basis. Some circumstances under which procurement actions may be non-competitive or restricted include:

  • Only one responsible source exists that can provide the required supply or service
  • An unusual and compelling urgency exists
  • A statute authorizes or requires that an acquisition be made through another agency (e.g., Small Business Administration) or from a specified source (utilities)

Acquisition Offices & Contact Information

Each BOP facility is responsible for buying their own necessary supplies, services, and equipment; therefore, you should contact the Contracting Office noted in each contract or solicitation.

Central Office's Business Office (COBO) is responsible for local acquisitions for Central Office. The COBO acquisition office is located at 320 First Street, NW, Room 5006, Washington, DC 20534.