U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum
No. APS 2004-06
Issuance Date: January 28, 2004
Expiration Date: September 30, 2004
Archive Date: October 24, 2008
Subject: When Work Can Begin on an Agreement for a Non-U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Customer
Reference: This IM has been replaced by Instructional Memorandum APS 2006-08 When Work Can Begin on an Agreement for a Non-U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Customer.
Instructions: The Instructional Memorandum (IM) supercedes IM 2003-15, which expired September 30, 2003.
1. Purpose. This Instructional Memorandum (IM) is being issued to provide interim guidance on when work can begin on an agreement for a non-USGS customer. The IM describes the limited circumstances under which USGS managers may begin work for a non-USGS customer in the absence of an agreement signed by both authorized USGS and customer officials. The IM also establishes the roles, responsibilities, and approvals required before such work may be initiated.
2. Background. The USGS receives about 30 percent of its funding through
partnerships with more than 2,000 Federal, Tribal, State, and local agencies
to address a broad spectrum of natural science issues. Most of the funding agencies
have been long-term partners, fully cooperating in mission-critical data collection,
basic research, and interpretive studies. To enter into an agreement with a
non-USGS customer, USGS must have legal authority that permits the work to be
performed and which authorizes USGS to accept and retain the funds. In many
instances, the legal authorities and funding instruments used to accept the
funds are specific to the type of customer and contain requirements which must
be fulfilled in order for USGS to legally perform the work and for USGS to properly
record and account for all transactions. For charges to be accounted for as
reimbursable, a signed agreement is required.
During fiscal year (FY) 2003, as a result of the General Accounting Office (GAO) classifying intra-governmental (between Federal agencies/entities) transactions as a Governmentwide material weakness, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) established standard business rules that all Federal agencies must adhere to. These rules include requirements for the agency acquiring the goods or services (the agency funding the agreement) to authorize/approve the agreement, include necessary funding information/citations, and obligate the funding prior to transmittal of the agreement to the agency providing the goods and services. The business rules define acceptance of an agreement as when it is signed by both partners. Selling agencies are required to record an unfilled customer order immediately upon receipt and acceptance of an authorized intragovernmental order.
The USGS is implementing the new business rules as OMB and Department of the Interior policies and processes are received, including the anticipated use of an electronic portal through which interagency agreements will be processed. The only permitted exceptions to the business rules issued by OMB are for national emergencies and for national security considerations.
In addition to issuing the new business rules for intragovernmental transactions (which only apply to transactions between Federal agencies), OMB issued additional information to agencies regarding violations of the Antideficiency Act (Section 145.6, OMB Circular No. A-l1, issued July 2003), which apply to all fiscal transactions, regardless of the source of funds (e.g., appropriated funds and funds received from other Federal agencies, the public, State governments, etc.). Section 145.6, instructs agencies as follows:
3. Beginning Work for Non-USGS Customers.
A. Private Entities, Foreign Countries and International Organizations. No work may begin, or expenses incurred, prior to an agreement being signed by authorized USGS officials and officials from the private entity or foreign country. In addition, prior to incurring any expenses, an advance payment must be received by USGS and deposited in the Federal Financial System (FFS)
B. Federal, State, Municipality, Territory, Possession, or Political Subdivision Thereof. Only in exceptional circumstances should managers request an exception to the general USGS policy requiring signed agreements prior to initiation of work. All exception requests must be for work that meets USGS mission requirements and must comply with the criteria provided below.
4. Request for Exception to Begin Work for a Federal Agency, State, Municipality, Territory, Possession, or Political Subdivision Thereof.
A. Criteria. The limited occasions when it may be necessary to begin work without a signed agreement in order to accomplish key mission objectives include:
(1) Time- and mission-critical activities associated with national emergencies (including natural disasters), national security considerations, or other extreme events. An essential part of the USGS mission is to monitor and document the effects of significant events associated with hazards and Homeland Security activities, and to provide timely information to emergency management and other Government authorities (e.g., Federal, State and local). Although there may be verbal agreement between USGS and the government agency to fund the work, there often is not enough lead-time to fully execute an agreement prior to initiating the work, and the nature of the event does not allow for normal business processes.
(2) Ensuring the continuity of ongoing, long-term data-collection, networks, and interpretive projects. Long-term, continuous record data are critical to the scientific integrity of many USGS data networks. These data networks provide valuable information that is used to manage and preserve natural resources throughout the Nation. Also, there are situations where several agencies are supporting the same network or project effort and where all but one of the agencies has signed the agreement. It may not be economically in the best interest of the Government or physically possible to discontinue stream gages and project activities for a few weeks waiting for the successor agreement to be processed, or the break in data collection may jeopardize long-term science objectives.
B. Risk Analysis. Prior to requesting an exception the Cost Center Manager must evaluate the financial risk of starting work without a signed agreement. To minimize financial risk the work must be such that appropriated funds can be used to cover expenses if the agreement is not eventually signed. In addition, requests should be limited to agreements with existing customers whom USGS has a longstanding history of agreement and funding renewal, and a reasonable expectation that the current agreement will be renewed.
C. Timeframe. Prior approval is required before work may begin for a non-USGS customer without a signed agreement. From October 1, 2003, through March 24, 2004, exception approvals are limited to a maximum of 90-days. From March 25, 2004, through June 25, 2004, exception approvals may not exceed June 25, 2004, the date by which all agreements must be signed and recorded in BASIS+ and FFS for the June 30, 2004, close. From July 1, 2004, through September 17, 2004, exception approvals may not exceed September 17, 2004, the date by which all agreements must be signed and recorded in BASIS+ and FFS for the final close of FY 2004.
If an agreement is not signed by the end of the exception approval period, all work and expenditures must be ceased. If a signed agreement and payment is not received in an additional 60 days from end of the exception approval period or by September 17, 2004 (whichever date is earliest), all outstanding expenditures and indirect costs will be charged to an appropriated funding source within the cost center.
D. Exception request process. Prior approval is required before work begins. Managers must certify to the urgency of the need, and to the likelihood of payment. Approval to continue work is time-limited as described in Section 4.C. Approving officials will regularly monitor the status of all approved exceptions.
(1) Field Cost Center Chiefs will submit a written request to the appropriate Regional Executive seeking approval to start work prior to having a signed agreement. Headquarters Cost Center Chiefs will submit a written request to their Associate Director. The request should contain the following information:
(signed) Carol F. Aten
Chief, Office of Administrative Policy and Services