What is your opinion as to the applicability of the FAR, and specifically the competition requirements, to the purchase of training under $25,000 under the Government Employees Training Act?
The issue of competition must be addressed in all government procurements pursuant to the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA), 10 USC 2304 and 41 USC 253 as implemented by the FAR. See FAR Subpart 6.1. However, Simplified Acquisition Procedures (SAP) at FAR Part 13 would be followed for Procurements less than $150,000. Part 13 addresses the issue of competition for certain types of procurements under the SAP, but the overarching policy remains unchanged, "The contracting officer must promote competition to the maximum extent practicable . . . " (FAR 13.104)
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The GAO decision in the Carroll-Donahue case was less about competition and more about who is authorized to obligate the government. In Donahue, GAO decided that an order for training was valid and could be paid by the government if payment is recommended by an authorized contracting official. Moreover, while CICA applied at the time of the GAO case, many new procurement rules, laws, policies and procedures have been implemented since then putting even more emphasis on competition. Each Department has its own policies and procedures pertaining to the use of the DD Form 1556 which are consistent with applicable procurement statutes and regulations.