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GSA Schedules Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions About GSA Schedules

GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts, also referred to as GSA Schedule and Federal Supply Schedule contracts, are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts that are available for use by federal agencies worldwide. GSA awards and administers MAS contracts pursuant to 40 U.S.C. 501, Services for Executive Agencies. Under the MAS Program, GSA enters into governmentwide contracts with commercial firms to provide over 11 million commercial supplies and services. Agencies place orders directly with MAS contractors. Interagency agreements are not required when placing orders against MAS contracts. The Economy Act does not apply when placing orders against MAS contracts.  

However, if an agency is contemplating use of a MAS contract order in excess of $500,000, then a written determination of "best procurement approach" is required (See FAR 17.501(a)). If the requiring agency will place the order under a delegation of authority from the GWAC Program Office, the “best approach” determination should be made as a part of the procurement planning process, prior to obtaining the delegation. If using the services of another agency to conduct the acquisition, the determination is made prior to requesting the assistance of the ordering agency and both the requiring agency and ordering agency must retain file copies of the requiring agency's determination.

Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) are task order or delivery order contracts for information technology established by one agency for governmentwide use (see Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 2.1, Definitions). Each GWAC is operated by an executive agent designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) pursuant to section 5112(e) of the Clinger-Cohen Act. The Economy Act does not apply when placing orders under GWACs. To use GWACs, agencies can either obtain a delegation of authority from the GWAC Program Office or work through a procurement support operation such as GSA's Office of Assisted Acquisition Services.

If an agency is contemplating use of a GWAC contract order, then a written determination of "best procurement approach" is required (See FAR 17.501(a)). If the requiring agency will place the order a delegation of authority from the GWAC Program Office, this determination should be made as a part of the procurement planning process, prior to obtaining the delegation. If using the services of a procurement support operation, the determination is made prior to requesting the assistance of the procurement support operation and both the requiring agency and ordering agency must retain file copies of the requiring agency's determination.

Multi-Agency Contracts (MACs) are task order or delivery order contracts established by one agency for use by government agencies to obtain a variety of supplies and services (see FAR 2.1, Definitions). The Economy Act (FAR 17.5) is applicable to orders placed under MACs, with the exception of MACs for information technology that are established pursuant to the Clinger-Cohen Act.

If an agency is contemplating use of a MAC contract order, then a written determination of "best procurement approach" is required (See FAR 17.501(a)).  This determination should be made as a part of the procurement planning process, prior to any public announcements of the requirement such as synopsis of the requirement or solicitation in accordance with the MAC's ordering procedures.  
GSA Order Administrative (ADM) 4800.2H, Eligibility to Use GSA Sources of Supply and Services, provides detailed information regarding those agencies, activities, and organizations that have been determined to be eligible to use GSA Schedule contracts.
eBuy is an online Request for Quotation (RFQ) tool designed to facilitate the request for submission of quotations for a wide range of commercial supplies and services offered by GSA Schedule contractors who are on GSA Advantage!®.

eBuy allows federal, state, and local government agencies (buyers) to maximize their buying power by leveraging the power of the Internet to increase Schedule contractor participation in order to obtain quotations that will result in a best value purchase decision. eBuy provides Schedule contractors (sellers) with greater opportunities to offer quotations and increase business volume for supplies and services provided under their Schedule contracts.

eBuy streamlines the buying process with point-and-click functionality by allowing RFQs and responses to be exchanged electronically between agencies and GSA Schedule contractors. In short, eBuy provides both agencies and contractors with a tool that will result in savings of both time and money.
A GSA Schedule BPA is an agreement established by a customer with a GSA Schedule contractor to fill repetitive needs for supplies or services (FAR 8.405-3). It simplifies the filling of recurring needs, while leveraging a customer's buying power by taking advantage of quantity discounts, saving administrative time, and reducing paperwork.

For recurring needs, Schedule BPAs facilitate satisfying the customers' requirements with better value through quantity-driven negotiated discounts. Meanwhile, the ordering activity reduces its administrative efforts by eliminating repetitive activities such as searching for sources, and the need to prepare new, complete solicitations for each order. They can use streamlined ordering procedures that allow for quicker turnarounds on orders that incorporate unique terms and conditions (that are not in conflict with the underlying contract) and eliminating repetitive, individual orders, which also reduces administrative costs and time.

The strongly preferred approach is to competitively establish multiple BPAs and compete specific requirements among those BPA holders to award each order. This approach leverages buying power to the maximum extent. Yet it still allows a simplified competitive procedure in which only the BPA holders (rather than all Schedule contractors) are considered. Under pre-agreed offer/award procedures, Schedule BPAs do not require the obligation of funds. Funds are obligated when orders are placed against a BPA.

A BPA can be set up for use by field offices across the nation, thus allowing them to participate in an agency's BPA and place orders directly with GSA Schedule contractors. In doing so, the entire agency reaps the benefits of additional discounts negotiated into the BPA.

A multi-agency BPA is also permitted if the BPA identifies the participating agencies and their estimated requirements at the time the BPA is established.

A BPA can be established under a Contractor Team Arrangement.
GSA Schedule contractors are required to accept the purchase card for payments equal to or less than the micro-purchase threshold. GSA Schedule contractors are also encouraged to accept the card for dollar amounts above the micro-purchase threshold. Ordering activities can consider purchase card acceptance when deciding which contractor represents the best value.
The GSA Order, Eligibility to Use GSA Sources of Supply and Services, identifies those agencies and activities authorized to use GSA Schedule contracts. For orders above the minimum order specified in each Schedule contract, up to the maximum order threshold, GSA Schedule contractors are obligated to accept orders placed by activities within the executive branch of the federal government. Schedule contractors are not obligated, but are encouraged, to accept orders from agencies and activities outside the executive branch.

If a Schedule contractor is unwilling to accept an order above the maximum order threshold or from an agency or activity outside the executive branch, the order will be returned to the ordering activity within five workdays after receipt by the contractor. For orders that propose payment by the governmentwide commercial purchase card, the contractor must advise the ordering activity within 24 hours after receipt of the order. If the Schedule contractor fails to return the order, or advise the ordering activity, within the specified time frames, the order is considered to be "accepted" by the contractor and all provisions of the Schedule contract shall then apply.
GSA's goal is to be the best value supplier of choice.

GSA Schedule contracts are negotiated with the intent of achieving the contractors' "most favored customer" pricing/discounts under similar conditions. In order to ensure that they receive the best value at the lowest overall cost when using GSA Schedule contracts, agencies are encouraged and empowered to seek price reductions at any time before placing an order. In addition, ordering activities are required to seek price reductions when placing orders over the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) or when establishing Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) with estimated total order values over the SAT. Note that contractors are not required to respond with reductions from their Schedule prices. Each Schedule holder's response to the ordering activity's request will be based on their own business decisions as the specific circumstances warrant (see FAR 8.405-4).

Purchasing from GSA Schedule contracts offers the following advantages over procuring on the open market:
  • GSA has determined prices under Schedule contracts to be fair and reasonable.
  • Pre-award synopses are not required for Schedule purchases and post-award synopses are only required when the opportunity was restricted to a sole source or a limited number of firms under an approved Limited Source Justification.
  • Schedule contracts have been awarded in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Administrative time is reduced.
  • Schedule contracts offer a wide selection of state-of-the-art commercial supplies and services.

Although the Ordering Procedures for Supplies, and Services Not Requiring a Statement of Work (SOW) (FAR 8.405-1) differ from the Ordering Procedures for Services Requiring a Statement of Work (SOW) (FAR 8.405-2), both sets of procedures are designed to simplify the acquisition process.

  • For orders of supplies and/or services at, or below, the micro-purchase threshold:

Place the order with any Schedule contractor that can meet the agency's needs. Though not required to solicit from a specific number of Schedule contractors, ordering activities should attempt to distribute orders among contractors (FAR 8.405).

  • For orders exceeding the micro-purchase threshold, but not exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold:
  • Supplies, and Services Not Requiring a SOW: Survey at least three Schedule contractors through the GSA Advantage!® online shopping service or review the catalogs or price lists of at least three Schedule contractors and seek additional price reductions where appropriate; evaluate; and make a best value selection.
  • Services Requiring a SOW: Prepare a Request for Quotation (RFQ) that includes the statement of work and the evaluation criteria; transmit the request to at least three Schedule contractors; evaluate responses; and make a best value selection.


Note: Each Schedule contract has a maximum order threshold, which will vary by special item number. The maximum order threshold represents the point where, given the dollar value of the potential order, the Schedule Contractor can decline the order.

Note: For Department of Defense (DoD) offices and non-DoD activities placing orders or establishing Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for supplies and services on behalf of DoD, the above procedures are now required, although not specifically addressed under Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 208.405-70.
 

  • For orders exceeding or when establishing a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold:
  • Supplies, and Any Services Requirement for Which the Full Scope of the Services is found in the Schedule offering; i.e., Not Requiring a SOW: Prepare an RFQ and post it on eBuy to afford all Schedule contractors the opportunity to respond. Or provide the RFQ to as many Schedule contractors as practicable, consistent with market research, to reasonably ensure that quotes are received from at least three contractors. Seek price reductions. Evaluate all responses and place the order, or establish the BPA with the GSA Schedule contractor that represents the best value.
  • Services Requiring a SOW: Prepare a SOW or PWS (Performance Work Statement) (in accordance with FAR 8.405-2(b)). Follow the same procedures as those used for supplies and for services that do not require a SOW.

Note: The ordering activity should request GSA Schedule contractors to submit firm-fixed prices to perform the services identified in the SOW. When not posting the requirement to eBuy, to determine the appropriate number of additional Schedule contractors, the ordering activity can consider the complexity, scope, and estimated value of the requirement, and the market search results.

Note: For Department of Defense (DoD) offices and non-DoD activities placing orders or establishing Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for supplies and services on behalf of DoD, the above procedures meet the requirements found under Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 208.405-70.

The documentation requirements for placing orders against GSA Schedule contracts are outlined in FAR 8.405-1(g) and 8.405-2(e). Documentation should contain the following basic information:

  • For supplies orders and services orders that did not require a statement of work:
  • The Schedule contracts considered, noting the contractor from which the supply or service was purchased;
  • A description of the supply or service purchased;
  • The amount paid; and
  • The basis for the award Decision.
  • When applicable, the following must be included in addition to the foregoing:
  1. If an order is in excess of $500,000, the determination of "best procurement approach" made during the planning process in accordance with FAR 17.502-1(a);
  2. When an order exceeds the simplified acquisition threshold and a minimum of three offers were not received and considered, evidence of steps taken to meet the competitiveness requirements of FAR 8.405-1(d), documentation demonstrating that the attempts to obtain offers from at least three firms that could meet the requirements were adequate; and
  3. Documentation as required by FAR 8.405-6 of the circumstances and rationale for limiting consideration of Schedule contractors to fewer than three potential sources, including an approved Limited Source Justification when required.
  • For services that require a statement of work:
  • The Schedule contracts considered, noting the contractor from which the service was purchased;
  • A description of the service purchased;
  • The amount paid;
  • The evaluation methodology used in selecting the contractor to receive the order;
  • The rationale for any tradeoffs in making the selection;
  • The fair and reasonable price determination required by FAR 8.405-2(d); and
  • When applicable, the following must be included in addition to the foregoing:
  1. If an order is in excess of $500,000, the determination of "best procurement approach" made during the planning process in accordance with FAR 17.502-1(a);
  2. The rationale for using other than a firm-fixed price order or a performance-based order;
  3. When an order exceeds the simplified acquisition threshold and a minimum of three offers were not received and considered, evidence of steps taken to meet the competitiveness requirements of FAR 8.405-2(c), documentation demonstrating that the attempts to obtain offers form at least three firms that could meet the requirements were adequate; and
  4. Documentation as required by FAR 8.405-6 of the circumstances and rationale for limiting consideration of Schedule contractors to fewer than three potential sources, including an approved Limited Source Justification when required.

Note: For those DoD offices and non-DoD activities placing orders on behalf of DoD, including orders under Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), the foregoing documentation requirements comply with DFARS 208.405-70.

The GSA Advantage!® online shopping and ordering system includes supplies and services under all of the GSA Schedules. With over 11 million supplies and services currently available, electronic ordering through GSA Advantage!® allows a customer to send an order directly to the Schedule contractor, creating a direct customer-contractor relationship.

For services that require a statement of work, eBuy, a component of GSA Advantage!®, provides a convenient way to publicize and disseminate the SOW and solicit quotations among GSA Schedule contractors. Federal agencies (buyers) can generate purchase orders through eBuy using governmentwide commercial purchase cards, or they can create purchase orders separate from eBuy using their own internal systems. For additional convenience, orders generated using eBuy will be recorded in the buyer's GSA Advantage!® order history.
With over 11 million commercial supplies and services available under the program, GSA Schedule contracts can meet the vast majority of a customer's needs. For those large or complex requirements, GSA Schedule contractors can join with other GSA Schedule contract holders and submit a total solution to meet a customer's needs under a Contractor Team Arrangement (CTA).

GSA Schedule contractors can also request that their contracts be modified at any time during the contract period to add new supplies and services to meet a customer's requirements. The modification process ensures that the latest technology is always available to the customer.

Schedule contract periods are as long as five years with three five-year option periods to provide for continued sources of supplies and services. Most GSA Schedule solicitations are now continuously open, enabling new companies to submit offers at any time, and further ensuring that customers have, not only a variety of supplies and services to meet their requirements, but also the latest technology available in the commercial marketplace.
Yes, under certain circumstances. Open market items are also known as incidental items, non-contract items, non-Schedule items, and items not on a GSA Schedule contract.

In accordance with FAR 8.402(f), for administrative convenience, an ordering activity contracting officer can add items not on the GSA Schedule contract — i.e., open market items — to a GSA Schedule Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) or an individual task or delivery order only if:
  • All applicable acquisition regulations pertaining to the purchase of the items not on the GSA Schedule contract have been followed (e.g., publicizing (FAR Part 5), competition requirements (FAR Part 6), acquisition of commercial items (FAR Part 12), contracting methods (FAR Parts 13, 14, and 15), and small business programs (FAR Part 19);
  • The ordering activity contracting officer has determined the prices for the items not on the GSA Schedule contract are fair and reasonable;
  • The items are clearly labeled on the order as items not on the GSA Schedule contract; and
  • All clauses applicable to items not on the GSA Schedule contract are included in the order.
GSA Schedule contracts have the same delivery times as the contractors' commercial delivery times. GSA Schedule contracts can also contain expedited delivery terms, or customers can request expedited delivery to meet their requirements.
In accordance with FAR 6.102(d)(3), use of the GSA Schedules Program is considered a "competitive procedure" under CICA when the GSA Schedule ordering procedures are followed — i.e., the Ordering Procedures for Supplies, and Services Not Requiring a Statement of Work (FAR 8.405-1) or the Ordering Procedures for Services Requiring a Statement of Work (FAR 8.405-2).
A Contractor Team Arrangement (CTA) under the GSA Schedules Program is an arrangement in which two or more GSA Schedule contractors join together to provide a total solution to meet a customer's needs.

Orders placed under a CTA are subject to the terms and conditions of each team member's GSA Schedule contract.
Yes. All products and services offered under GSA Schedule contracts are evaluated and awarded in accordance with the Trade Agreements Act (FAR 25.4).
Yes. In accordance with FAR 8.406-4 and 8.406-5, respectively, an ordering activity contracting officer can terminate an order for cause or for the convenience of the government. Such terminations shall comply with FAR 12.403. The GSA Schedule contracting officer shall be notified in all cases where an order has been terminated for cause or fraud is suspected.

Yes, at the discretion of the ordering activity contracting officer, orders and BPAs can be set aside for the small business types listed in FAR 19.000(a)(3). Procedures set forth at FAR 8.405-1, -2, and -3 must be followed, and either the GSA Schedule contract or the RFQ for the BPA must include the appropriate clauses from the list below:

  • 52.219-13 Notice of Set-Aside of Orders (NOV 2011);
  • 52.219-3 Notice of Total HUBZone Set-Aside or Sole Source Award (NOV 2011);
  • 52.219-6 Notice of Total Small Business Set-Aside (NOV 2011);
  • 52.219-14 Limitations on Subcontracting (NOV 2011);
  • 52.219-27 Notice of Total Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Set-Aside (NOV 2011);
  • 52.219-29 Notice of Total Set-Aside for Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) Concerns (NOV 2011);
  • 52.219-30 Notice of Total Set-Aside for Women-Owned Small Business Concerns Eligible Under the Women-Owned Small Business Program (NOV 2011);
No. The GSA Schedules Program can not be used to acquire services that are subject to the procedures of FAR 36.6, Architect-Engineer Services.
Prior to 1939, government employees typically performed A/E work on federal projects. However, a 1939 statute (Public Law (P.L.) 76-43) directed federal agencies to contract with private firms. In doing so, government managers recognized that the expertise and innovation brought by the private sector improved the aesthetic, functional, and safety characteristics of structures while minimizing life-cycles, operations, and maintenance costs. Historical analysis revealed that A/E pricing represented only approximately one percent of the total life-cycle cost of the asset.

The Brooks Architect-Engineer Act (P.L. 92-582), enacted in 1972, established federal policy concerning the selection of firms and individuals to perform A/E services in the federal government. The Brooks Act codified into federal law the selection process known as Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS), which was subsequently incorporated into FAR 36.6. QBS procedures require that contracts for design services be negotiated on the basis of demonstrated competence and qualification for the type of professional services required at a fair and reasonable price.
A major characteristic of A/E service acquisitions subject to the Brooks Act and FAR 36.6 is the unique non-price based approach to competition. Rather than price being an essential factor in evaluation, competition relies almost exclusively on technical factors. However, QBS does not negate price as an eventual factor for contract negotiations with the design professional. Price becomes a factor after the firms are ranked based upon qualifications and a mutually agreed upon scope of work is formally established. Initially, firms are ranked in order of their technical qualifications and then negotiations are held with the top ranked firm. Only if a satisfactory contract cannot be negotiated will the contracting officer negotiate with the next most qualified firm.
In accordance with FAR 36.601-4, contracting officers should consider the following services to be A/E services and thus subject to QBS procedures:
  • Professional services of an architectural or engineering nature, as defined by applicable state law, which the state law requires to be performed or approved by a registered architect or engineer;
  • Professional services of an architectural or engineering nature associated with design or construction of real property;
  • Other professional services of an architectural or engineering nature or services incidental thereto (including studies, investigations, surveying and mapping, tests, evaluations, consultations, comprehensive planning, program management, conceptual designs, plans and specifications, value engineering, construction phase services, soils engineering, drawing reviews, preparation of operating and maintenance manuals, and other related services) that logically or justifiably require performance by registered architects or engineers or their employees; and
  • Professional surveying and mapping services of an architectural or engineering nature. Surveying is considered to be an architectural and engineering service and shall be procured pursuant to FAR 36.601 from registered surveyors or architects and engineers. Mapping associated with the research, planning, development, design, construction, or alteration of real property is considered to be an architectural and engineering service and is to be procured pursuant to FAR 36.601.
The FAR identifies the following exceptions to using QBS procedures in FAR 36.6:
  • When the contract statement of work includes both architect-engineer services and other services, the contracting officer shall follow the procedures in FAR 36.6 if the statement of work, substantially or to a dominant extent, specifies performance or approval by a registered or licensed architect or engineer. If the statement of work does not specify such performance or approval, the contracting officer shall follow the procedures in other applicable FAR sections.
  • Other than "incidental services" as specified in the definition of architect-engineer services in FAR 2.101 and 36.601-4(a)(3), services that do not require performance by a registered or licensed architect or engineer, notwithstanding the fact that architect-engineers also can perform those services, should be acquired in accordance with other applicable FAR sections.
  • Mapping services that are not connected to traditionally understood or accepted architectural and engineering activities, are not incidental to such architectural and engineering activities, or have not in themselves traditionally been considered architectural and engineering services shall be procured pursuant to other applicable FAR provisions.
Yes, but only under certain circumstances. A firm-fixed price quotation shall be requested, unless the ordering activity makes a determination that it is not possible at the time of placing the order to estimate accurately the extent or duration of the work, or to anticipate cost with any reasonable degree of confidence. When such a determination is made, a time-and-materials (including labor-hour) quotation can be requested. A time-and-materials order must include a ceiling price. Contractors exceeding the ceiling price do so at their own risk.
Prior to placing a time-and-materials order, the ordering activity must ensure that it has and will maintain appropriate order administration capabilities to give the government reasonable assurances that efficient methods and effective cost controls are being used by the Schedule contractor. The contractor's accounting system should support the ability to closely track funding expenditures, since hours worked equate to hours to be paid. Particular attention should be paid to ensure that services are performed by those persons belonging to the appropriate labor categories with specified qualifications, as stipulated in the order, and that the billing accurately reflects the correct rates. A ceiling price must be established at the time of order placement. Contractors exceeding the ceiling price do so at their own risk. Any subsequent changes to the ceiling price must be justified and documented.
Socioeconomic credit for a prime contractor always goes to the funding agency.

Yes. There are two clauses contained within Schedule contracts that are relevant to this issue. 52.216-18 states that orders may be issued through the contract expiration date. This means that on the last day of the effective period of the contract an order may be issued. Clause 52.216-22 states that if an order is not completed within the effective period of the contract that it shall be completed within the time specified in the order.

Clause text:

  • 52.216-18 ORDERING (OCT 1995) (DEVIATION II -- FEB 2007)
  • “(a) Any supplies and services to be furnished under this contract shall be ordered by issuance of delivery orders or task orders by the individuals or activities designated in the Schedule. Such orders may be issued from Date of Award through Contract expiration date.”
  • 52.216-22 INDEFINITE QUANTITY (DEVIATION I—JAN 1994)
  • “(d) Any order issued during the effective period of this contract and not completed within that period shall be completed by the Contractor within the time specified in the order. The contract shall govern the Contractor’s and Government’s rights and obligations with respect to that order to the same extent as if the order were completed during the contract’s effective period.”

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