Contracts & Acquisitions Management (CAM), in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, is one of two contracting activities within the Department of Education (Department)and is responsible for the solicitation, award, administration, and closeout of all contracts and other acquisition instruments, except for Office of Federal Student Aid procurements and some simplified acquisitions and General Services Administration schedule orders.
CAM’s mission is to proactively lead the acquisition process by planning, negotiating, awarding, and administering contracts from “cradle to grave”; i.e., the contracting officer responsible for administering a contract is normally the same contracting officer that awarded the contract. CAM strives to fulfill its mission as efficiently and effectively as possible in support of the overall Department mission to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access to education. We believe these goals can best be met by considering past performance, determining best value for the government, and fostering an environment of openness and fairness toward the vendor community. We are committed to reducing unnecessary red tape and making our acquisition practices as user-friendly as possible. We are also committed to promoting opportunities for small businesses. For further information, please see the guide Doing Business with the Department of Education.
CAM promotes competition in procurements over $3,000. Purchases between $3,000 and $150,000 are generally reserved for small businesses in accordance with Federal regulations. Federal regulations require that three quotations be requested for actions in this dollar range. Most routine purchases up to $25,000 are procured outside of CAM by authorized staff in each program, staff or management office, usually through the use of telephone quotations. Acquisitions over $10,000 are, however, advertised at FedBizOpps. Solicitations are also available for download at FedBizOpps. CAM uses the System for Award Management (SAM) to find vendors who provide products and services to meet Department requirements.
Jim Ropelewski is the Department's Senior Procurement Executive (SPE). The SPE has responsibility for providing acquisition leadership and management of the Department’s acquisition system. Specifically, the SPE provides management direction for implementation of procurement policies, regulations, and standards for the entire Department. Additionally, the SPE coordinates and oversees the Department's acquisition planning process, ensuring that planning activities are completed in accordance with established Department and federal acquisition policies and procedures. Finally, the SPE is responsible for the development and maintenance of a procurement career management program to ensure an adequate and professional acquisition work force at the Department. In carrying out these duties, the SPE works with the Department's two contracting activities (CAM and FSA Acquisitions) to ensure that their needs are met enabling them to carry out their important missions.
CAM consists of four groups--one group that provides support services and three groups that directly serve their assigned principal offices through contract award and administration support. Each principal office works with a single group committed to meeting its needs. The Acting Director of CAM, Jim Hairfield, oversees the four groups and serves as the "Head of the Contracting Activity" for the Department with the exception of the Office of Federal Student Aid. Each Group Manager serves as the "Chief of the Contracting Office", except for the manager of the Performance and Logistics Group. Additionally, Jim Hairfield, Deputy Director of CAM, serves as the "Competition Advocate for the Contracting Activity." The functions for these positions are described in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
The Performance and Logistics Group (PLG) provides technology, systems, acquisition policy and logistical support to the other three groups and to the Department. Stephanie Girard is the PLG Group Manager.
The Operations Contracts Group, which is temporarily being led by Stephanie Girard, supports the following primary customers:
- Office of the Secretary - provides overall direction, supervision, and coordination of all activities of the Department and is the principal adviser to the President on Federal policies, programs, and activities related to education in the United States.
- Office of the Deputy Secretary - serves as the principal policy advisor to the secretary on all major program and management issues, including student financial assistance. The Deputy Secretary is also responsible for the internal management and daily operations of the Department.
- Office of the Under Secretary - oversees policy development and administration of the Budget Service and the Planning and Evaluation Service.
- Office of Communications and Outreach - is responsible for overall leadership for the Department in its communications and outreach activities, designed to engage the general public as well as a wide variety of education, community, business, parent, academic, student, and other groups, including the media, intergovernmental and interagency organizations, and public advocacy groups in the President's and Secretary's education agenda.
- Office of the Chief Financial Officer - serves as the principal advisor to the Secretary on all matters related to financial management, financial control and accounting, cooperative agreements, procurement, and discretionary grant policy.
- Office of the Chief Information Officer - develops and maintains a sound information technology architecture for the agency, advises senior management on the acquisition of technology, and promotes effective use of technology to achieve the agency's strategic goals.
- Office of the General Counsel - provides legal advice to all persons authorized to request such advice or services. Directs, coordinates, and recommends policy for activities that are designed to provide legal documents, rules, and regulations entered into by the Department, including proposed and pending legislation.
- Office of Inspector General - conducts audits and investigations of Department programs and operations in order to promote their efficiency and effectiveness and to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. Through courts and administrative procedures, this office seeks to recover misused Federal funds. In cooperation with the Department of Justice, it seeks prosecution of wrongdoers.
- Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs - provides the direction, planning, and development for the implementation of the legislative goals of the Department. Works with the Congress to assure the receipt of necessary information relating to policies, appropriations, and programs and to assure the Department's responsiveness to their requests.
- Office for Civil Rights - enforces Federal statutes that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in education programs receiving Federal financial assistance.
- Office of Management - administers the Department's human resources and administrative support functions.
The Program Contracts Group, which is led by Cynthia Duncan, supports the following primary customers:
- Office of Elementary and Secondary Education - provides financial assistance to State and local education agencies for both public and private preschool, elementary, and secondary education. Working together with these and other education partners, OESE promotes and supports equal educational opportunities and educational excellence for all students.
- Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education – formally known as the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, OCTAE works to ensure that all Americans have the knowledge and technical skills necessary to succeed in postsecondary education, the workforce, and life. Through the Preparing America's Future initiative's comprehensive policies, programs and activities, OCTAE is helping reform America's high schools, supporting America's community colleges and expanding America's adult education programs.
- Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development - oversees planning, evaluation, policy development, and budget activities for the Department.
- Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services - assists in the education of disabled children and the rehabilitation of disabled adults and conducts research to improve the lives of disabled persons regardless of age.
- Office of English Language Acquisition - administers programs designed to enable students with limited English proficiency to become proficient in English and meet challenging state academic content and student achievement standards.
- Office of Innovation and Improvement - makes strategic investments in promising educational practices through grants to states, schools, and community and nonprofit organizations. It also leads the movement for greater parental options and information on education.
- Office of Postsecondary Education - directs, coordinates, and recommends policies for programs that are designed to provide financial assistance to eligible students; improve postsecondary educational facilities and programs; recruit and prepare disadvantaged students for postsecondary programs; and promote the domestic study of foreign languages and international affairs, research, and exchange activities.
The Education Sciences Contracts Group, which is led by Sherese Lewis, supports the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). IES has the following responsibilities: Department's main research arm, compiles statistics; funds research, evaluations, and dissemination; and provides research-based guidance to further evidence-based policy and practice. Its three operational divisions are the National Center for Education Research, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, and the National Center for Education Statistics.
Federal Student Aid Acquisitions is the Department's other contracting activity. It is led by Patrick Bradfield. Federal Student Aid administers federal student aid programs, providing more than $90 billion of financial aid per year to college students. Works to modernize the delivery of student financial assistance and improve service to millions of students and the postsecondary institutions they attend.
For more information on what the Department buys and how, see the guide Doing Business with the Department of Education. For a more complete discussion of the Department's principal offices and programs see the "Guide to Department of Education Programs".