Purchasing Training

Laws and policies governing the purchase of training include:
  • The Government Employees Training Act (GETA) for civilians subject to Title 5, U.S. Code
  • Title 10, U.S. Code for separate personnel system employees, such as the Acquisition Workforce and DCIPS
  • The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)
  • The Defense and Army FAR Supplements (DFARS and AFARS), and
  • Requirements of your servicing procurement/contracting office.

SecDef Memo, July 20, 1998 subject: Purchase Card Program

Commanders, supervisors and other management officials who have been designated in writing to exercise delegated authority to approve training may use several methods to purchase training:


As a general rule, the process of requesting, selecting, approving, and purchasing training valued up to and including $25,000 as a single purchase is exempt from formal contracting and acquisition procedures if it meets the definitions of "commercial" and "off-the-shelf" (5 USC 4105, AR 690-400, Chapter 410, Subchapter 3-11i).

DD Form 1556 (Request, Authorization, Agreement, Certification of Training and Reimbursement) remains the authorized and required source document to purchase training not subject to contracting procedures, and to initiate requests to establish Education Service Agreements.

Definitions: (See 48 CFR 2.101)

  • Commercial Training Items: Training courses, software, products, training conferences or instructional services customarily used for non-governmental purposes. The items are available to the general public and the Federal Government simultaneously, subject to similar terms and conditions.
  • Off-the Shelf: Course, program, or routine of instruction which presently exists and is available at commercial marketplace prices. Providers advertise standard features and costs of the item or service through established catalogs, schedules, or other public information sources. An item requiring minor modification(s) resulting in no additional costs to the Government beyond the established, published prices, may still satisfy the criteria for designation as "off-the-shelf." If the modification(s) significantly alter the non-Governmental function or essential physical characteristics of an item, or change the purpose of the process, the purchase is subject to formal contracting procedures.
  • Vendors and training providers may include Government and non-Government sources.

    Non-Government sources include, but are not limited to

    • State government or instrumentality
    • Interstate governmental organization
    • Medical, scientific, technical, educational, research, or professional institution, foundation, or organization
    • Universities, technical, business, and vocational schools
    • Business, commercial, or industrial firm, corporation, partnership, proprietorship, or other organization
    • Non-profit organization; and
    • Individuals other than Government civilian or military personnel.

    Document rationale for selection of sole and multiple source non-Government providers. If more than one non-Government provider or source can provide training to meet the same need, the requesting official will compare, evaluate and document factors contributing to the selection of the product/vendor. Factors to consider include:

    • cost
    • suitability
    • geographic accessibility (if applicable)
    • availability
    • methods
    • curriculum design specifications, and
    • performance or behavior objectives (AR 690-400, Chapter 410. 3-11ii(4)).

    The Government-wide Purchase Card is the authorized method for payment of commercial non-Government training and services.

    Effective October 1, 1998, the DD Form 1556 was no longer authorized to use as a payment document.

    Effective Oct 22, 2007, the DD Form 1556 has been replaced by the SF 182

    Payment to Government source providers remains via the appropriate fund transfer, in accordance with local financial management procedures.


    When an agency training course or program requires new design and development by a non-Government source, the authorized contracting officer contracts for the service on behalf of and as requested by the responsible training or management official.

    Modifications to commercial off-the-shelf products, services and programs resulting in additional costs to the Government beyond the established, published prices, also require submission to the authorized contracting officer. Such orders and purchases must comply with local contracting procedures and the provisions of the FAR, DFARS, and AFARS.


    Training which costs over $25,000 is subject to the Defense Financial Management Regulation (DFMR) (, the FAR, DFARS, AFARS, and local acquisition and contracting procedures.

    Contact your training coordinator or the Human Resource Development advisor at your servicing Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) to determine procedures in effect for your organization/installation.

    Content last reviewed: 3/20/2007-DLS

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    This page was last revised: 12/28/2011