Training & FAQs
Welcome to the RWA Training and Frequently Asked Questions Page. The materials included on this page are aimed for all individuals that handle, process, or authorize RWAs with PBS on behalf of their agency. All of these materials are considered "self-service" in that they can be reviewed at any time at your own pace. However, should a customer request onsite training, PBS can customize training to address key customer issues. Please contact us at AskRWA@gsa.gov to discuss your needs.
This Introduction to Reimbursable Services training is available to both internal employees and external customers in an effort to impart the same basic level of knowledge, understanding, and common language surrounding the Small Projects & Reimbursable Services Program.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below you will find FAQs pertaining to RWAs. In order to best navigate the site, please click on the tab which you believe your question might fall under and use Ctrl+F to search the page for a particular question or topic. If you have any further questions or comments please feel free to contact us at AskRWA@gsa.gov.
eRETA & Customer Letters
Standard Customer Letters (Receipt, Acceptance, Completion, and Closeout) - Frequently Asked Questions:
Are all RWA customer letters required?
- Four of the customer letters are required for non-recurring RWAs for Federal Customers (A, B, E, and N Type RWAs), and are encouraged, but not required for F Type RWAs. The Follow-Up Letter and Cancellation Letter are both optional for all RWA Types.
Do the RETA Data Entry Users have to send the signed copy of the RWA Form 2957 from RETA?
- Yes, the signed RWA must be scanned and uploaded to be sent electronically from system with the Acceptance Letter.
Are the customer letters signed by GSA?
- These letters are official RWA correspondence generated by GSA’s official RWA system, RETA. They are not signed by GSA, but are intended to communicate with the customer at important trigger points throughout the project.
Who receives the customer letters?
- GSA requires customer letters be sent to all contacts (GSA and Customer) listed on the RWA. Additionally, GSA may add anyone else identified as being involved with the project.
Does GSA send a rejection letter?
- No. There is not a standard reason why RWAs are rejected. GSA should be reaching out to the customer to explain why the RWA is not being accepted and assist them with updating the RWA.
Should customer letters be sent for amendments?
- Yes. The Receipt Letter and Acceptance Letters are sent specifically for the amendment. The Completion Letter and Closeout Letter are sent for the overall RWA.
Is it a requirement to send the Receipt Letter from RETA?
- The requirement is for the letter to be uploaded to RETA if it is sent from outside the system itself, though the preference remains to utilize RETA to create and send the letters whenever possible.
Should GSA send the Receipt Letter even if a great deal of information on the RWA is missing?
- Yes. The Receipt Letter must always be sent within 5 business days of the date that an RWA is received. Receipt is not acceptance; it is simply an acknowledgement that GSA has received the customer’s request. It does not commit GSA to anything other than reviewing the RWA.
Who gets the Receipt Letter?
- Any POCs listed on the RWA Form 2957 (3 customer POC fields and 2 GSA POC fields). Also, anyone within GSA identified at the time as being involved with the project because additional email addresses may be added.
Is the Acknowledgement Letter same as Receipt?
- Yes. The Receipt Letter was formerly called The Acknowledgement of Receipt Letter.
How long after GSA receives the RWA do they send out the Receipt Letter?
- GSA must send the Receipt Letter within five business days after the RWA is received.
Does GSA know the RWA number at receipt?
If GSA knows the RWA number when entering the RWA, why doesn’t GSA include the RWA number on the Receipt Letter?
- GSA does not send the RWA number with the Receipt Letter to avoid confusion for when the customer should obligate funding. The RWA number at acceptance solidifies that GSA has accepted the RWA.
Is GSA required to send the Receipt Letter for amendments?
What is the difference between the Receipt Letter and the Acceptance Letter?
- The Receipt Letter is simply an acknowledgement that GSA has received the customer’s request. The Acceptance Letter communicates GSA’s acceptance of the RWA, signaling the project initiation of the RWA, and it is when customer agencies should obligate the funding associated with the RWA. It is important to remember customer agencies should only obligate once the agency receives the Acceptance Letter from GSA.
What is the timeline to send the Acceptance Letter (i.e. when the RWA is accepted in RETA)?
- Must be within 5 business days of when GSA signs and accepts the RWA.
Can GSA send the system-generated or “signature on file” version of the RWA with the Acceptance Letter?
- No, GSA must upload and send the signed version with the Acceptance Letter.
What is the purpose of the Follow-up Letter?
- The Follow-Up Letter is used when no activity has been performed on an RWA and GSA is not able to move forward on a project until the customer responds with information. GSA uses the Follow-Up Letter when normal communication lines have not proven successful in removing whatever obstacle is preventing the project from moving forward. The concern necessitating the Follow-Up Letter is GSA's burden of delivering the project scope within a reasonable timeframe. Further delay could result in the closure of the RWA, and need for additional funding when/if the issue(s) preventing the continuation of the project is provided.
Should a customer de-obligate funds when they receive the Completion Letter?
- De-obligation should NOT occur until the customer receives the Closeout Letter, which comes AFTER the Completion Letter and identifies financial closeout.
Does GSA issue the Completion and Closeout Letters on F Type RWAs since they close automatically at the end of the fiscal year?
- F Type RWAs do not require a Completion Letter, but the use of the Closeout Letter is strongly encouraged.
What should a customer do when they receive a Closeout Letter?
- The customer should follow the instructions included in the Closeout Letter. Receipt of this letter indicates the customer may de-obligate the amount identified for de-obligation on the Closeout Letter.
Year-End Customer Letters - Frequently Asked Questions:
When do the year-end letters go out to customers?
- GSA makes every effort to send the year-end letters to customer agencies in May of each year, and posts them online at www.gsa.gov/rwa. The year-end letters are directly emailed to all customer agencies and should not be confused with individual customer letters generated in RETA for each RWA.
Where can customers access the most recent year-end customer letters?
- In the Policy and Guidance section on the external RWA website.
What are the year-end “cut-off” dates?
- These are no longer “soft” dates and the regions should plan according to their resources and workload. DoD is typically June 15th and all other customer agencies are typically September 1st.
Are the year-end letters hard dates that customer agencies must follow?
- Yes, these are specific dates customer agencies need to be aware of. The risk for the customer is if GSA does not receive RWAs by the year-end letter date, GSA may not have sufficient time to perform the necessary due diligence required for acceptance.
Do the year-end letters detail that submission prior to the deadline does not guarantee acceptance?
- Yes. The year-end letters only speak from a time perspective and do not make any acceptance guarantees.
eRETA - Frequently Asked Questions:
What does eRETA stand for?
- External RWA Entry and Tracking Application.
What is the difference between eRETA and RETA?
- eRETA 1.0 replaces the former RWA Search website that customers once used to obtain RWA information. eRETA has a real-time connection to RETA (internal GSA use) which provides real-time financial information and access to RWA documentation. eRETA 1.0 is essentially the Documentation Search from RETA copied into eRETA. As such, external customers can search for RWAs the same way a RETA user would search for RWAs in the Documentation Search.
- The information on the Documentation Summary in eRETA is identical to the information in the RETA Documentation Summary except for two key differences:
- In eRETA, the start, completion, and termination dates have been replaced by the Receipt Letter, Acceptance Letter, Completion Letter, and Closeout Letter dates.
- Only documents a RETA Data Entry User marks as “Shared” in RETA will be accessible to the customer in eRETA.
Are there any user guides for using eRETA and/or user guides for interpreting the data available in eRETA?
- Yes, go to www.gsa.gov/ereta and scroll to the section labeled "eRETA Resources."
Are customers able to see financials in eRETA?
- Yes, but as a customer you will only see GSA obligations, not commitments.
After customers submit an RWA, when does it appear in eRETA?
- An RWA does not become visible in eRETA until GSA has accepted the RWA (i.e. the Acceptance Letter is generated in RETA and sent to the customer). With eRETA 2.0 (coming in late 2014 or early 2015), customers will be able to view the status of RWAs that are still pending review, approval and acceptance. This means customers will be able to see all of their potential and accepted RWAs. This includes both RWAs customers initiate and enter directly into the eRETA system for GSA review and acceptance (coming with eRETA 2.0), and those sent through the current, more traditional, process.
Where can GSA locate the remaining customer balance, including all obligations to date?
- Customers may reference the “Documentation” tab located at the top of the eRETA home screen for their RWA balance.
What is the Closeout Letter date in eRETA?
- The Closeout Letter date reflects the timing of the most recent Closeout Letter, either generated in RETA or manually uploaded into RETA and sent to the customer by GSA. In eRETA, the start, completion, and termination dates have been replaced by the Receipt Letter, Acceptance Letter, Completion Letter, and Closeout Letter dates. This was done intentionally as the customer letter communications were created to emphasize when customers should take various actions on their RWAs. Previously, customers took action, such as de-obligating their remaining balance, when they saw a completion date or termination date in RWA Search (the customer website prior to eRETA). The customer letters were created primarily to assist the customer and avoid having them make assumptions and take incorrect preemptive actions potentially causing additional administrative efforts by both GSA and the customer.
Whom should customers direct eRETA Questions to?
- All eRETA questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who do customers contact concerning issues withuser ID and/or password when logging into the PBS Portal Extranet?
- Contact the National Application Helpdesk (NAH) at COPBSApp@gsa.gov or at 866.367.7878
Who do customers contact if they submitted the "eRETA Clearance Verification Form (Step 2 of 3)" more than 10 business days ago and have not yet received a Welcome Email from COPBSApp@gsa.gov?
- Contact these offices in the following order: (1) Follow up with your home agency Personnel Security Office (or HR Office) to verify if your Form was successfully submitted to GSA's Personnel Security Office. (2) Follow up with the GSA Personnel Security at GSA.SecurityOffice@gsa.gov to verify your application status. (3) Lastly, if necessary email eRETA@gsa.gov to look into the request further - please do NOT send a copy of your Form to eRETA@gsa.gov as it contains Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
Who do customers contact when attempting to launch eRETA from the PBS Portal Extranet and receiving a blank screen indicating: "Access Is Not Authorized, Please Contact System Administrator"?
- Make sure the following actions have taken place (in this order): (1) Did you follow all the instructions in the eRETA Welcome Email from COPBSApp@gsa.gov, most importantly completing the "eRETA User Account Validation From (Step 3 of 3)" online? If not complete this online form, or contact eRETA@gsa.gov if you cannot locate your Welcome Email. (2) Has it been 72 hours since you completed the "eRETA User Account Validation Form (Step 3 of 3)"? If not, please wait at least 72 hours before contacting eRETA@gsa.gov. (3) Contact eRETA@gsa.gov if the previous two conditions have been met.
Who do customers contact if they need to change the Agency Bureau Codes (ABCs) they have access to in eRETA (for example the customer is still employed at the same agency they originally requested access for)?
- Email the changes to the ABC(s) you need access to at eRETA@gsa.gov.
Who do customers contact if they need to change the Agency Bureau Codes (ABCs) they have access to in eRETA (for example the customer has taken a job with a different agency)?
- Email eRETA@gsa.gov to provide your former email address/user log-in name and indicate you've changed agencies. GSA is required to remove access under your old account. Next, follow Steps 1-3 above in the "eRETA User Account Request Process" to request a new user ID with your new email address and access to new ABC(s) under your new agency.
Why is GSA requiring me to provide a Social Security Number (SSN), Date of Birth (DOB), and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to gain access to eRETA and other GSA external Portal Applications?
- “GSA Order CIO P 2181.1” dated 10/20/2008 drives this requirement. More specifically Chapter 1, Section 2 states: "HSPD-12 requires all Federal Executive departments and agencies to conduct personnel investigations, adjudicate the results, and issue identity credentials to all Federal employees and contractors who require routine access to their building facilities and information technology (IT) systems." Since granting access to eRETA falls under the umbrella of granting access to GSA IT Systems, it falls under the HSPD-12 purview. Since GSA does NOT have access to the background check/clearance of associates in other agencies, the one page “eRETA Application Clearance Verification Form” is effectively an abbreviated HSPD-12 background clearance to confirm that the requestor has an approved HSPD-12 clearance on file with his/her home agency. The “GSA Order CIO P 2181.1” outlines the procedures for granting logical access to GSA IT Systems in Chapter 6 - Chapter 6 of the CIO policy is provided below for your reference.
- GSA Order CIO P 2181.1 - Chapter 6
If a customer is still uncomfortable with giving PII, is there someone they can speak with about Step 2 of this process?
- Yes. GSA strongly encourages you and/or your Personnel Security Office (or HR Office) contact the GSA Personnel Security at GSA.SecurityOffice@gsa.gov to ask any questions about the process. Please remember the “eRETA Application Clearance Verification Form” is only handled by you, your Personnel Security/HR office, and the GSA Personnel Security Office – all groups that are cleared to handle government employee and contractor PII. This information is not shared with the eRETA business line owners nor any other GSA associates outside of GSA Personnel Security. The email address and the fax number provided on the “eRETA Application Clearance Verification Form” are secure connections to transmit this information.
What should customers do if they work for a Non-Executive Branch agency that does not operate under the HSPD-12 standards, or if their home agency does not require a clearance for system access?
- GSA is in the process of reviewing how to handle users that fall into these categories. At the moment “GSA Order CIO P 2181.1” dated 10/20/2008 only recognizes those with HSPD-12 clearances.
A customer had access to the RWA Search website and/or one of the other PBS Extranet Portal applications (e.g. Del-eGate, eLease, etc). Why were they not required to provide PII to obtain access to those applications?
- “GSA Order CIO P 2181.1” applies to ALL GSA IT applications where user access must be requested and granted. As such, all existing applications that may have once had fewer requirements to gain access are being revamped to comply with “GSA Order CIO P 2181.1.” New users requesting access to eLease, Del-eGate, or any other GSA system or application today, are asked to follow the same procedures outlined above.
Is eRETA different than the Vendor and Customer Self-Service (VCSS) Portal?
- Yes. eRETA provides global project and financial information on individual Reimbursable Work Authorization (RWA) projects. eRETA also includes a document storage tool that includes copies of signed RWA forms, estimates, customer letters, other customer communications, and much more. VCSS is a complementary application to eRETA and specifically provides access to bills and billing data for not only RWAs, but all GSA business lines. For more information on VCSS, please go to vcss.gsa.gov.
Will my eRETA user log-in work for VCSS and vice versa?
- Not at this time. To gain access to eRETA, please follow the three-step process outlined above. To gain access to VCSS, visit vcss.gsa.gov and click on the "Registrations & Access Requests" button.
Where can I obtain more information or training about VCSS?
- Self-service training and reference materials are available by clicking the "Training" tab at vcss.gsa.gov. Training tutorials as well as sample copies of new IPAC and non-IPAC billing statements are available here.
- Also, VCSS is part of a larger GSA initiative to consolidate all billing functions for all GSA business lines into a single billing system. The project known as the Billing and Accounts Receivable Project, or BAAR, has valuable information, FAQs, and other materials at www.gsa.gov/baar