HBP Part 7.6.2. Cost Reasonableness or Cost/Price Analysis - Federal Grants and U.S. Government Prime Contracts

Handbook of Business Procedures

Date published: March 5, 2012
Last revised: December 1, 2017
Issued by: Purchasing


When federal funds are used to purchase goods and services, a determination of cost reasonableness or cost/pricing data requirements must be made depending on the dollar amount of the purchase.

A. Purchases Less than or Equal to $15,000

For orders less than or equal to $15,000, colleges, schools and units (CSUs) are responsible for determining that prices paid for goods and services are reasonable. For complete federal guidelines, see Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

B. Purchases Greater than $15,000

For purchases over $15,000, cost reasonableness is required if the purchases have not been competitively awarded. A purchasing buyer reviews the requisition to ensure that competitive bidding has been accomplished. If only one quote has been obtained, the requesting CSU will be required to provide additional information documenting how the price quoted by the supplier was determined to be fair and reasonable.

When cost reasonableness is required, it must be documented in the purchase order file. CSUs must use the Federal Funds Cost Justification Worksheet to submit the required information. 

Cost reasonableness may be accomplished in various ways. The following are suggestions for determining cost or pricing data for a product or service:

  • Base price reasonableness on published catalog or online pricing.
  • Establish the market price by obtaining a quote for a similar product or service from another supplier or by using catalog or online pricing from a manufacturer of similar equipment.
  • Verify the price for a similar product sold to another agency.
  • Determine the price previously paid for a prior purchase of the same item. If a cost justification was provided for a previous purchase of the same item for the same price, the previous cost justification may be reused.
  • Provide a make-or-buy analysis, which is an estimate by the requesting CSU of the cost for the CSU to manufacture the item (parts, labor, etc.) in-house.

If the purchasing buyer determines that the price is not reasonable, the Purchasing Office may request additional information from the requesting CSU or the proposed supplier.

C. Federal Contract Purchases Greater than $750,000

Orders over $750,000 that are funded by federal contracts require that Federal Acquisition (FAR), 15.406-2 Certificate of Current Cost or Pricing Data be completed. The requesting CSU's cost/pricing data requirements must be certified by the federal funding source in accordance with Federal Acquisition (FAR), Subpart 15.4—Contract Pricing.

D. Resources



Part 7. Purchasing - Table of Contents