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OAMP Creates 'Map' of Acquisition Policy

By Greg Pryor

As head of the contracting activity and director of the Office of Acquisition Management and Policy at NIH, Diane Frasier was frequently besieged by questions from auditors, vendors and the public. Essentially, people wanted to know, "How are supplies and services purchased at the NIH?"

Even though a 1994 modification to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) added new procedures that were termed "simplified acquisition," the phrase is almost an oxymoron. Acquisition procedures have been streamlined but they remain anything but simple.

To further complicate the ability to respond in a coherent manner, Frasier often found herself responding with the caveat, "It depends." And, indeed it does. There are sundry socio-economic programs to consider such as Small Business, HubZone, 8(a), a variety of contractual mechanisms and, of course, an infinite variety of supplies and services, all of which can be factors in answering the question.

To provide a meaningful and comprehensive response — and one that could be tailored to individual inquiries — Frasier initiated development of a web site that provides an "electronic map" to the ins and outs of federal acquisition. It also includes the special considerations that affect NIH acquisition such as the Department Contract Information System, NIH Manual Chapters and the NIH Clearance Guide.

The web site further provides an overview for all NIH'ers interested in acquisition approaches from the IntraMall and purchase cards to multi-million dollar R&D clinical trials. It also provides information in such areas as using the Federal Supply Schedule, small business set-asides and the intricacies of purchasing of construction, architecture and engineering services.

There is a glossary to help with definitions and a guide to such arcana as DELPRO, GWACs, BPAs, JWOD, UNICOR and NITAAC. Links to such areas as the FAR, manual chapters, NIH Object Class Codes and NIH surplus equipment can help not only those looking for an overview of NIH acquisition but also contracting officers, contract specialists and purchasing agents.

The URL for the electronic map is It is Section 508-compliant and welcomes all visitors. OAMP recognizes that this site is "under construction" and welcomes comments and recommendations. The office believes that the electronic map will make NIH's acquisition processes more transparent and will serve to educate and inform a whole new generation of supply and service requesters, auditors, vendors and acquisition professionals.

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