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Q&A: Purchasing Goods and Services Using Cooperative Agreements, Agents, and Third-Party Services

EO Guidance Document #
FNS Document #
SP05 CACFP03 SFSP02-2017
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Policy Memo (95.10 KB)
DATE: October 19, 2016
SUBJECT: Q&A: Purchasing Goods and Services Using Cooperative Agreements, Agents, and Third-Party Services
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

This memorandum provides general guidance on the various procurement groups FNS has identified, how to use each group in a way that complies with federal procurement standards, and supersedes SP 35-2012, Procuring Services of Purchasing Cooperatives, Group Purchasing Organizations, Group Buying Organizations, etc., dated June 12, 2012. This memorandum applies to all child nutrition program operators.

Although participating in intergovernmental and inter-agency agreements can offer greater economy and efficiency for procurement or use of common or shared goods or services (2 CFR 200.318(e)), program operators participating in these agreements must still conduct competitive procurement in accordance with 2 CFR Part 200.318-.326 and applicable program regulations and guidance Specifically, program operators must ensure all:

  • Costs paid from the nonprofit food service account are necessary, reasonable, allocable, and otherwise allowable per 2 CFR 200.403 and the applicable cost principles in 2 CFR 200, subpart E.
  • Procurements are conducted in a manner maximizing full and open competition consistent with federal procurement standards in 2 CFR 200.318-.326 and in applicable program regulations.

Failure to competitively procure goods and services is a violation of federal regulations and may result in delays, disputes, findings of noncompliance, and costs being disallowed.

State agencies must distribute this memorandum to program operators. Program operators with questions should contact their state agency. State agencies with questions may contact the appropriate FNS regional office.

Sarah Smith-Holmes
Program Monitoring and Operational Support Division
Child Nutrition Programs

Page updated: April 20, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.