Skip to main content


Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
School Food Authorities and Federal Procurement Regulations/Record-Keeping Requirements

          Federal regulation 7 CFR Part 3016.36(b) prohibits the awarding of contracts to any entity that develops or drafts specifications, requirements, statements of work, invitations for bids, requests for proposals, contract terms and conditions or other procurement documents.  This reminder is being re-issued since USDA continues to receive complaints that a number of school food authorities (SFAs) are not drafting their own specifications and procurement documents, but instead directly incorporating a list of features written by a prospective bidder. 

        In failing to fulfill its responsibilities to draft its own specifications and procurement documents, an SFA which copies a list of features or evaluation and ranking criteria drafted by a potential vendor affiliates (ex: brokers, manufacturer/ marketing reps) and then permits that potential vendor to submit a bid has violated Department regulation 7 CFR Part 3016.60(b).  While schools have broad discretion in gathering information for use in connection with procurements, information from potential bidders must be excluded from competing for such procurements.  This is to ensure objective contractor performance and eliminate unfair competitive advantage.  A person that develops or drafts specifications, requirements, statements of work, invitations for bid, requests for proposals, contract terms and conditions or documents specifically for use by an SFA in conducting procurement under the Child Nutrition programs must be excluded from competing for such procurements.

        Any action which diminishes open and free competition seriously undermines the integrity of the procurement process and may subject the SFA to bid protests.  SFAs are reminded that they must have protest procedures in place and disclose information regarding a protest to our office.  USDA is concerned that SFAs may not be properly responding to protests and concerns raised by potential contractors.  Pursuant to §3016.36(b)(12), SFAs must have protest procedures in place to handle and resolve disputes relating to their procurements and must in all instances disclose information regarding a protest to their State agency.

        School food authorities (SFAs) must also maintain appropriate records for procurement transactions occurring in connection with the Child Nutrition Programs.

        Departmental regulations at 7CFR Parts 3016 and 3019, program regulations at 7 CFR 210.9(b)(17), and the terms of the agreement between State agencies and each SFA, require SFAs to retain their program-related records for a period of 3 years from the day the SFA's final allowable payment under the contract has been recorded.  This is true regardless of whether the final payment is recorded prior to the expiration of the contract or subsequent to the expiration date.

        When a procurement contract is continued or renewed at annual or other intervals, the retention period for the records of each contract period starts on the day the final payment is recorded in connection with the final renewal.  It appears that many SFAs incorrectly believe that the 3-year retention period begins with the initial contract execution.  The 3-year retention period does not begin until the final contract renewal period has expired and/or the final payment is recorded, whichever occurs first.

        Actions such as bid protests, litigation, and audits may result in an extension of this 3-year record retention period.  In all cases, the records must be retained until: (1) the completion of the action and resolution of all issues arising from it; or (2) the expiration of the regular 3-year period, whichever occurs later.

        Adequate procurement methods are a prerequisite for receiving funds.  If records generated during the performance of the award do not demonstrate compliance with applicable procurement requirements, several possible penalties may follow: disallowance of costs, annulment or termination of award, issuance of a stop work order, debarment or suspension, or other appropriate remedies.  Examples of such records to be retained include:

  • A written rationale for the method of procurement;
  • A copy of the Request for Proposal or the Invitation For Bid;
  • The selection of contract type (fixed price or cost reimbursable);
  • The bidding and negotiation history;
  • The basis for contractor selection;
  • Approval from the State agency to support a lack of competition when competitive bids or offers are not obtained;
  • The basis for award cost or price;
  • The terms and conditions of the contract;
  • Any changes to the contract and negotiation history;
  • Billing and payment records;
  • A history of any contractor claims; and
  • A history of any contractor breaches.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)     email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


For Nondiscrimination Statement translations, click here.

Los demás programas de asistencia nutricional del FNS, las agencias estatales y locales, y sus beneficiarios secundarios, deben publicar el siguiente Aviso de No Discriminación:

De conformidad con la Ley Federal de Derechos Civiles y los reglamentos y políticas de derechos civiles del Departamento de Agricultura de los EE. UU. (USDA, por sus siglas en ingles), se prohíbe que el USDA, sus agencias, oficinas, empleados e instituciones que participan o administran programas del USDA discriminen sobre la base de raza, color, nacionalidad, sexo, discapacidad, edad, o en represalia o venganza por actividades previas de derechos civiles en algún programa o actividad realizados o financiados por el USDA.

Las personas con discapacidades que necesiten medios alternativos para la comunicación de la información del programa (por ejemplo, sistema Braille, letras grandes, cintas de audio, lenguaje de seas americano, etc.), deben ponerse en contacto con la agencia (estatal o local) en la que solicitaron los beneficios. Las personas sordas, con dificultades de audición o discapacidades del habla pueden comunicarse con el USDA por medio del Federal Relay Service [Servicio Federal de Retransmisión] al (800) 877-8339. Además, la información del programa se puede proporcionar en otros idiomas.

Para presentar una denuncia de discriminación, complete el Formulario de Denuncia de Discriminación del Programa del USDA, (AD-3027) que está disponible en linea en: y en cualquier oficina del USDA, o bien escriba una carta dirigida al USDA e incluya en la carta toda la información solicitada en el formulario. Para solicitar una copia del formulario de denuncia, llame al (866) 632-9992. Haga llegar su formulario lleno o carta al USDA por:

(1)     correo: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; o

(3)     correo electró

Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.