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Frequently Asked Questions

For IHS Employees

For Vendors

Q. What are the prohibited products and services under the Purchase Card?

A: The prohibited purchases under the Purchase Card Program are on Appendix C of the HHS Purchase Card Guide. Please refer to Appendix D for Purchases Requiring Special Attention.

Q. Where can I find the Object Class Code?

A: A complete list of Object Class Codes can be found here. [PDF - 1 MB]

Q. Can I use the Purchase Card to buy food/refreshments for a meeting?

A: There are very limited circumstances in which it is authorized to purchase food with appropriated funds. Contact your contracting official for a determination.

Q. What is DUNS number?

A: Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. The DUNS Number is assigned by Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. (D&B) to identify unique business entities. You can search a vendor’s DUNS number. Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

Q. Is there a fee for using a convenience check?

A: Yes. The bank will charge a percentage fee based on the dollar amount of the check.  The fee is currently 2% of the total amount of the check

Q. Can I sign a hotel agreement?

A: Only a warranted Contracting Officer  cardholder working under their purchase authority or a Contracting Officer is authorized to sign a hotel agreement, after verification that funds are available and that a Contracting Officer and/or OGC has reviewed the terms and conditions.

Q. What opportunities are there for me to become an IHS contractor right now?

A: All open market solicitations over $25,000.00 are posted on the Government point of entry called Federal Business Opportunities or Fedbizopps: Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) SUB-Net serves as a public host for Governmentwide subcontracting opportunities. The SUB-Net allows large businesses to post a description of the services required for a particular solicitation and their point of contact information for interested subcontractors.

Small Businesses are encouraged to frequently visit the SUB-Net Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  website to determine if there are any available subcontracting opportunities for which they would like to compete.

Another resource for small business is to contact the IHS HQ small business representative.

Q. What is "FedBizOpps"?

A: Federal Business Opportunities, or FedBizOpps for short, is the government wide single-point-of-entry on the internet for all Federal government contracting opportunities. It lists all major Federal government solicitations, contract awards, subcontracting opportunities, surplus property sales and foreign business opportunities. FedBizOpps is where IHS and the rest of the Federal government must announce their proposed contracts expected to exceed $25,000.

Persons who want to do business with the government should visit the FedBizOpps Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  site often. It is a very good way to keep fully informed of Federal contracting opportunities.

Q. What is a "Solicitation"?

A: A solicitation is the document we use to describe a proposed contract and to explain how to compete for it. The type of solicitation we use depends on the procurement method being utilized.

If Simplified Acquisition Procedures are used, the solicitation document is called a "Request for Quotations", or RFQ for short. In some instances, price quotations will be solicited verbally (e.g., over the telephone) and no written document will be used.

If the Sealed Bidding method is used, the solicitation document is called an "Invitation for Bids", or IFB for short.

If the Negotiation method is used, the solicitation document is called a "Request for Proposals", or RFP for short.

Q. What are "Simplified Acquisition Procedures"?

A: Simplified Acquisition Procedures is a term the Government uses for what used to be known as Small Purchasing. These are simple, streamlined methods for making individual purchases that do not exceed $150,000.

Simplified Purchases, over $3,000 for supplies or $2,500 for services, but not exceeding $150,000 are reserved exclusively for small businesses. Purchases under the Micro purchase threshold may be made from either large or small businesses, and usually are made with a Government credit card.

Q. What is "Sealed Bidding"?

A: Sealed Bidding is a method used when price is the primary factor in determining contract award. This method does not allow any discussions or negotiations between IHS and the bidders concerning either the work requirement or the price.

When using the Sealed Bidding method we will issue an Invitation for Bids (IFB), stating our exact requirements. Once bids are received on a specified date, they are publicly opened and read. A contract is then awarded to the responsible bidder who submitted the lowest, responsive bid.

Q. What is "Negotiated Contracting"?

A: Negotiated Contracting is used when price is not the determining factor in contract award, or when factors other than price (i.e., technical expertise) must be considered.

IHS uses two methods of Negotiated Contracting:

  • Tradeoff, where the contract is awarded to the offeror who's proposal represents the best value, considering technical ability and price.
  • Lowest-Priced Technically-Acceptable, where contract award is made to the lowest-price offered among those that meet specified minimum technical requirements.
Q. What if I have a question about the award of a task or delivery order?

A: General questions about task or delivery order contracts should be directed to the cognizant contracting office. Questions about a specific task or delivery order award should be directed the cognizant contracting officer.  Check the solicitation for the Point of Contact.