Understanding § 200.319 Competition, the New Fire Safety Federal Grant Regulation

There’s a strict new federal regulation in town and it’s called “§200.319 Competition.” Thanks to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the new ruling—also known as 2 CFR or “Super Circular 2”—affects U.S.-based fire departments that are applying for federal grant money related to their fire station alerting system project.

The ruling also significantly changes the way US Digital Designs and other vendors may pursue business with prospective customers, and provide you with resources.

To help you better understand what the new regulation means, and how we can continue to work effectively with you, we offer the following:

  • Effective December 31, 2014, 2 CFR was implemented to ensure fairer competitive practices in business.
  • This ruling essentially:
    • Dictates how companies and organizations must now handle procurement transactions and other business relating to fire station alerting systems (and other such equipment).
    • Means we can no longer directly send technical or product specifications to a customer or prospective customer who might at some point seek federal financial assistance to help defray project costs.

While we’re aware that, in some cases, this may pose an inconvenience, we simply can no longer email such documents to our customers and prospects. All files must now be maintained online for public use. The good news in all of this is that the new regulations will help to create more seamless communication between fire departments and their vendors.

Speaking for USDD in particular, we’ve always tried to operate our business such that we have nothing to hide from competitors, particularly because more information related to our RFPs is already available to public.

What Should You Do?

Restrictive as the new guidelines might be, they are designed to protect all of us from anyone or any organization that might gain or offer unfair competitive advantage in their business solicitations, negotiations and correspondence.

But to help us all get on track with abiding the new regulations, US Digital Designs wants to let you—our customers and prospects—know that we’ve posted new helpful resource documents to our website. The docs are designed to help fire chiefs and other officials gain access to PDFs and Word files that can help in performing due diligence if they’re researching a fire station alerting system.

You may also want to download the PDF of the §200.319 Competition regulation in its entirety.

Still Need Help? Ask Your Peers

If you want great referrals, testimonials or advice on the Request for Proposal (RFP) or grant funding process, we encourage you to work directly with colleagues and associates from other fire departments. Many of our current fire station alerting customers are listed on our home page.

A Key Component of §200.319 Competition

If you’re interested in knowing the actual wording from the U.S. Government’s Electronic Code of Federal Regulations governing competition 200.309, here’s a key component:

In order to ensure objective contractor performance and eliminate unfair competitive advantage, contractors that develop or draft specifications, requirements, statements of work, or invitations for bids or requests for proposals must be excluded from competing for such procurements.

And, following, are some of the key competitive circumstances the new regulations were written to help ensure against:

  • Placing unreasonable requirements on firms in order for them to qualify to do business
  • Requiring unnecessary experience and excessive bonding
  • Enabling noncompetitive pricing practices to occur between firms or between affiliated companies
  • Granting noncompetitive contracts to consultants who are on retainer contracts
  • Allowing organizational conflicts of interest to occur

Spelling it Out

As with most government regulations, the language can be a bit confusing. So, to gain a better sense of what it all means, one of the industry’s well-known professionals has broken it down for us in layman’s terms. Jerry Brant, who is a senior grant consultant and grant writer with FireGrantsHelp and EMSGrantsHelp, offers an excellent summation of the new regulations in a recent blog: FireGrants Help. He tells us in plain English what the new guidelines do—and do not do—for those of us in the fire safety system grant-seeking business.

Your Turn

Do you have a question, comment, point of view or concern regarding the new 2CFR regulations? If so, send us a quick email. We’d love to hear from you.

Media Contact
Want to get in touch? Reach out to our media contact Erik Hanson at (602) 687-1739 or ehanson@usdd.com

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