The following are general guidelines relating to the procurement of training. Although the head of an agency has training procurement authority under Title 5 USC Chapter 41, procurement of training in most agencies is governed by U.S. General Services Administration regulations. An individual human resource development professional or manager should consult the agency delegations of authority to determine what specific authorities he or she has.
Agencies may use an authorized training form to procure and certify payment of training expenses through Government or non-Government facilities. The form is certified by training officials and supervisors instead of the contracting officer under a procedure negotiated by the two offices and addressed in the agency's administrative directives. Comp. Gen. B-210334 (July 14, 1983).
Under typical negotiated procedures, the Training Authorization Form (SF-182) or equivalent is authorized for use to obligate funds, contract for training, and certify payment of approved training expenses under the following conditions:
the training cost of a single training event, program, or instructional service does not exceed the simplified acquisition process dollar limit established by U.S. General Services Administration;
the cost is of a fixed nature, i.e., price per student or price per course, program, or service; and
the program, course, or instructional service is off-the-shelf and no modification or development resulting in increased cost to the Government is needed to meet the organization's needs.
The Training Authorization Form is also used for requesting, approving, and certifying payment for attendance at meetings, conferences, seminars, and symposia where the primary purpose is to train an employee to meet a performance improvement related need. The form is not used to purchase general supplies, training equipment, or non-training services.
When an agency training course or program requires new design and development, the authorized contracting officer contracts for the service on behalf of and as requested by the responsible training or management official.
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced the new SF-182 form entitled "Authorization, Agreement, and Certification of Training." The electronic SF-182 will enable OPM to maintain consistency in collecting training data and will assist Agencies in reporting training requirements.
Under U.S. General Services Administration Federal Acquisition Regulations, a contract is not to be knowingly made with a Government employee (or with a business concern or other organization owned or substantially owned or controlled by one or more Government employees), except for a most compelling reason, such as when the agency's needs cannot reasonably be otherwise met. The purpose of this prohibition is to avoid any conflict of interest that might arise between:
an employee's interests and the performance of official duties, and/or
any appearance of favoritism or preferential treatment.
The fact that a Government employee's service might be less expensive than another source is not a compelling reason to contract with the Government employee according to the Comptroller General. See 61 Comp. Gen. 65 (1981) and Title 48 CFR §3.601.
An agency head may contract with a foreign government or international organization to provide training services to agency employees after receiving advice from the U.S. Department of State before the first use of such training facility and thereafter periodically but not less often than once every three years. See E.O. No. 11348 §402 (April 22, 1967), as amended.
Training and development expenses may be charged to the fiscal year appropriation in which the obligation is incurred regardless of the fact that the training may extend into the following fiscal year. See Title 31 USC §1502(a).
Consistent with this rule, the Comptroller General states that delivery of goods or performance of services in a fiscal year subsequent to the year in which a contract is executed does not preclude charging the earlier fiscal year appropriations with the full costs of goods or services. See 65 Comp. Gen. 741 (1986).
Thus, when a training obligation is incurred and performance begins in one fiscal year, the entire cost is chargeable to that year, even though performance may extend into the following year. Such services are a single undertaking, properly chargeable to the fiscal year in which the training need was determined, the debt incurred, and the performance began. See Comp. Gen. B-233243 (August 3, 1989) and Comp. Gen. B-257977 (November 15, 1995).
An agency also may charge a previous fiscal year appropriation for the entire cost of a training course scheduled to begin in the next fiscal year when:
the course meets a bona fide need of the prior fiscal year,
scheduling of the course is beyond the agency's control, and
the time between procurement and performance is not excessive. See 70 Comp. Gen. 296 (1991).
This includes obligating its fiscal year funds in advance to pay for a two-year training program, such as the Presidential Management Intern program, where the training meets a bona fide need of the fiscal year charged. See Comp. Gen. B-257977 (November 15, 1995).
Title 31 USC §1535 (formerly Section 601 of the Economy Act of 1932) authorizes Federal agencies to provide reimbursable services to another Federal organization that requests them when the requesting organization determines that:
it has funds available for the services in question,
the arrangement is in the Government's interest,
the agency or unit to fill the order is able to provide the needed services, and
the head of the agency decides the needed services cannot be provided as conveniently or cheaply by a commercial enterprise.
The Economy Act has also allowed agencies to:
admit to their training programs employees of Federal organizations not covered by training law such as military personnel if the training is in the Government's interest and if the agency has funds available for the training;
admit to their training programs persons sponsored by Federal organizations not covered by training law if the sponsoring agency pays for the training; and
obtain training services from another Federal agency that has obtained these services by contract.
Title 31 USC §1535 authorizes the inter- and intra- departmental furnishing of goods and services on a reimbursable basis and Title 31 USC §1536 authorizes the crediting of such reimbursements to the appropriation charged for the performance.
U.S. Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 (August 4, 1983), Performance of Commercial Activities, requires that Federal agencies assess the costs of performing work "in-house." The circular provides guidance on how to place costs on such things as a position or service when determining if it is more economical to contract the work to outside sources. For example, an agency may decide to develop training in-house rather than contract out based on an analysis of cost factors.
The circular is designed as a tool to challenge managers to find the most efficient and effective means of doing business at competitive prices. It does not dictate how agencies should organize themselves or manage their programs.