GSA New Contractor Orientation Chat Transcript
2/20/08

Question: I have noticed that some vendors do not have a full price list online at GSA Advantage, or they have just a reference link to their webpage.  What is required for a price list, and how is it uploaded?
Answer: Contractors who show only part of their products or services on Advantage are only hurting themselves because most customers use Advantage for market research.  The price list requirements are located in the pricelist clause in your contract.  The most common way to upload your pricelist to Advantage is via the Schedule Input Program (SIP).

Question: My company represents several different types of products by different manufacturers.  Can I get a GSA Schedule contract for my company and represent different product types?
Answer: Yes.  You can be the authorized dealer for all products.  When you submit your offer, you will need to submit information for all products you want on schedule.

Question: If a contractor has successfully migrated all of its IT contracts to the GSA Schedule thru the base schedule contract years, how do we prepare the matrix for follow on Option years? 
Answer: Contact your PCO to have them discuss how they want the information.

Question: What more can we do to drive people to view our products on the GSA website?
Answer: You will need to market your GSA schedule just as you would any product.   Make sure your company's website references the GSA contract, and remember you may use the GSA logo to attract attention.

Question: Would anyone have the quickest path to finding the agencies that may need one's specific products?
Answer: Not likely.  Most data on Federal purchasing does not go down to the product level.

Question: If we make price changes to the website today, when can we begin to use the new pricing for GSA purchases?
Answer: Before making changes to the website, you need to do a formal modification with your PCO.  After that is approved, you can load a new SIP file into Advantage.  Price changes take effect when they get approved by your PCO.

Question: How often are these GSA chats available to us & how can we sign up again in case all of our answers aren't answered in the next hour?
Answer: The chats will be held once per month. If you received the email today, then you are automatically on the list for next time.   To get on the email list, you must view the New Contractor Orientation available at vsc.gsa.gov.   An archive of the chat will be available on this website also.
Question: A potential client is doing a government funded school project.  He would like the GSA discount. If he elects NOT to go through GSA Advantage or GSA E-buy, is it still considered a GSA purchase?
Answer: You will need to review the Basis of Award (Most Favored Customer) pricing relationship in your contract to see how the pricing would affect your GSA contract pricing.

Question
: Can we put the same part # on multiple schedules?  We have a few pieces of technology that are a combination of devices.  Most of these items would be correct for Schedule 70, but some might simultaneously be correct for another schedule, like Schedule 58.
Answer: Yes - you can have part numbers on more than one Schedule.

Question: We'll be attending the GSA trade show, can we exhibit more than what we put on the price list?
Answer: No, you can only exhibit products and services that are awarded on your GSA Schedule contract(s).

Question: I was just advised that GSA would be coming out for a CAV next week.  Is there anything in particular that I need to prepare and have ready?
Answer: Your IOA should have prepared you via a letter and/or phone call on what to expect on the visit.

Question: Why can't you bid on GSA ebuy for items that aren't on your Schedule contract? I thought the purpose was to pre-qualify vendors, not products.
Answer: eBuy is used only with schedule contracts.   Therefore, items that are not on your GSA schedule may not be offered through eBuy.  If you have additional items you wish offer, you may need to modify your contract to add those items.

Question: I saw in my GSA package that you can see when competitors’ contracts are expiring... where do you find that information?
Answer: Contract information for all GSA Schedule contracts is available on GSA Schedule eLibrary (http://gsa.gov/elibrary).

Question: I am approved for only two products now. How do I go and get approved for more?
Answer: You submit a contract modification to your PCO via paper or eMod.

Question: What's the first step in obtaining a GSA contract?
Answer: The first step is to do market research to determine that the Federal Government actually has a need for your products or services and that there is a GSA Schedule that covers them.

Question: Can a company only have one NAICS code, or can you have multiple based on the range of services being offered?
Answer: GSA schedules aren't specifically based on NAICS codes but rather Special Item Number descriptions.  You may have one NAICS or many. Check out the solicitations at http://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov.

Question: How do clients acquire services through the GSA website?
Answer: Customers use GSA Advantage as a market research tool.  Most commonly, GSA Advantage is used for the procurement of products.  For services, once a customer identifies potential contractors, they can then post their requirements on GSA eBuy.

Question: My company is not the manufacturer of the product we will be offering.  The NAICS codes for the listed on the schedule are all for manufacturing. What code should I be using?
Answer: You base your submission on the Special Item Number, not the NAICS.  For purposes of GSA Schedules, the NAICS just identifies the types of products.  It does not restrict who can get a contract.

Question: Is there a way to check on the status of my GSA contract submission?  I have not heard back from a CO as yet.
Answer: There should be a contact person listed in the solicitation you can call.   Also try the points of contact listed at the particular schedules page at http://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/

Question: When do I need a 'letter of supply' for products?
Answer: Letters of supply are generally needed when you are a dealer.  Each Schedule has its own requirement for when a letter of supply is needed, so consult the specific solicitation.

Question: If my company has strategic partnerships with other companies, does that hinder our small business status?
Answer: Your business size for your contract is based only on the products or services on your contract.  Whether you are a large or small business is dictated by the requirement in each solicitation – generally either dollar value of sales or number of employees.

Question: Can you explain the FedBizOpps and details of this program?
Answer: FedBizOpp is the Federal Government's main website for posting procurements.

Qustion: Is there a limit to the number or dollar amount of "open market items" that can be negotiated on a contract?
Answer: Technically open market items can not be negotiated on to your "contract."  Open market items are items that are, by definition, NOT on your contract.  They can, however, be added to individual task orders if they are incidental to the overall Schedule products/services being offered.

Question: My Company has a GSA Contract, but I just took over as the contact. How do I get all the passwords changed and the website rebuilt?
Answer: The first thing you will need to do is contact your PCO and modify the contract to list you as the representative.   You can update your sales reporting information by calling the helpdesk.  The number is located at http://vsc.gsa.gov/.   You can also contact your Administrative contracting officer (ACO) for help.  Find them at http://vsc.gsa.gov/vsc/pco_aco.cfm

Question: We are having trouble determining which NAICS code to submit under.  Is there anyone we can talk to that can review our company profile and help?
Answer: NAICS are listed in each solicitation, but it's not so much about the NAICS.  It's whether your products/services fall under the specific Special Item Number descriptions.
Question: How can we obtain a list of NSN numbers?
Answer: National Stock Numbers generally do not apply to GSA Schedule contracts.  You will need to contact Defense Logistics Agency.

Question: My company already has a Schedule 70. How do we add skill categories?
Answer: To add more items or services to an existing contract contact your PCO.  They will guide you through the process of modifying the contract.  Once you and your PCO negotiate the new services,they will be added to your contract.

Question: What permissions do you need to put a link to GSA website on your existing site?
Answer: Generally there are no permissions required, and in fact, posting links to the GSA website is encouraged.

Question: What are the main forms filled out by a customer to submit an order to GSA?
Answer: This question concerns internal (agency-by-agency) ordering procedures.  There aren't specific forms per se - ordering activities must abide by FAR Part 8.4 when placing orders using Schedules.

Question: I understand that a COTR must use GSA before going to open bid, is this correct?
Answer: The Federal Acquisition Regulations do list an order of precedence for procurements, and GSA Schedules do come above agency procurements.

Question:  When will the SIP program be available for MAC?
Answer: I'm sorry - that's a technical question that we can't answer here today.  Your best bet is to call the helpdesk.  The number can be found on vsc.gsa.gov.

Question: Does having only one product hinder our success with GSA?
Answer: As long as you market your contract well, and your business plan is based on that sole product, having only one product/service on contract does not hinder your success.

Question: How much assistance is available for setting up on GSA Advantage?
Answer: There is a tab dedicated entirely to getting on Advantage on the Vendor Support Center website at vsc.gsa.gov.  In addition, you can always call the helpdesk (number listed on VSC.)

Question: Our company deals with many different NSN's that are across many schedules.  Can we get one schedule that covers all of our NSN's that we deal in, or do we have to try to get on multiple schedules?
Answer: You may want to look to see if your products are covered by the Consolidated Schedule.  If not, you will need to get multiple schedule contracts.

Question: Is there a renewal contract template for use by a current GSA holder - who knows there contract is due to expire soon ?  Or does one have to submit a brand new application?
Answer: Contact your Contracting Officer.

Question: If our contract modification was already approved, do we need to receive a signed copy of the updated price list?
Answer: No - if you have a signed modification, generally your PCO won't sign and return your new pricelist.

Question: Is it common to experience a 3-month delay in getting changes to our catalog approved?
Answer: I wouldn't say that it's common, and it should not take this long to get your file approved.  Keep in mind that if the modification was approved, your changes are already effective – even if they don't show up on the website yet.

Question: We are trying to renew our IT schedule - it is almost 14 months past the renewal date - but our PCO just keeps extending it for 90 days - not having had the time to review it. What can we do?
Answer: Your only alternative is to contact the manager for the Contracting Officer or the Center Director.

Question: We want to put the GSA logo on our website, but when we downloaded it, it was pixalated, and it was too small.  We need something that's 200x300px.  Where can we get that?
Answer: Taken from gsa.gov -->Questions or clarifications about the use of the GSA Star Mark should be directed to the Office of Marketing, Communications Division, at (703) 605-5640.

Question: I have been monitoring E-buy and FedBizOps, as well as different procurement websites. Is there any other way to look for possible business?
Answer: You can also look in FPDS-NG for higher level agency purchasing trends.

Question: When you are ready to submit a contract proposal, at what point will a PCO be assigned?
Answer: After you submit your offer, a PCO will be assigned immediately.

Question: How do vendors recover costs for raw materials needed to complete a project - in our case aerial photography costs.
Answer: GSA Schedule contracts generally only allow for payment after the service is rendered or the product is delivered.

Question: Are reports available that indicate the agencies that own climate controlled spaces?
Answer: I'm sorry - perhaps the EPA may be able to answer this question.

Question: What is the difference between the GSA MOBIS and GSA consolidated services contracts?  And does one supercede the other?
Answer: The GSA Consolidated Schedule is a master schedule that contains products and services from many of GSA's individual schedules.  They both stand alone.

Question: We have had potential GSA business request separate agreements. How can we migrate these requests towards our GSA schedule?
Answer: You need to talk to these contractors about Contractor Teaming Arrangements. To learn more, go to GSA.GOV/Schedules and look at "Contractor Teaming Arrangements."

Question: What is or where do I find the procedure to add items to my GSA Schedule under already approved SINS?
Answer: There is a modification clause in your contract.  In addition, it's always a good idea to contact your PCO to ask if he/she would like anything specific in your request.

Question: How do I add a new SIN, and how can I correct textual description errors in existing onlin descriptions on GSA Advantage?
Answer: To add a new SIN, you will need a formal modification from your Contracting Officer.   To correct existing descriptions, you will need to upload another catalog file with the updates. Click here for info on uploading files to GSA Advantage. http://vsc.gsa.gov/sipuser/startup_kit.cfm

Question: We are a manufacturer and sell to end users and distributors.  When we have to submit our best pricing to GSA, and supply copies of invoices, is it for end users or distributors?
Answer: Provide all of your information - both for end users as well as distributors.  You will need to demonstrate why GSA customers buy differently than distributors.

Question: What does a company do when it's products fall into the nebulous "-99" category, where there isn't any awareness of the existence of an environmentally-friendly product and its applications?
Answer: There is usually a SIN that covers these unsolicited items – that’s the purpose of the -99 SIN.  It allows you to propose to add a new product.

Question: Can we get help to learn how to use the SIP software?
Answer: For info on uploading via SIP or EDI start here -->  http://vsc.gsa.gov/sipuser/startup_kit.cfm.   The VSC helpdesk can also help with questions.  vsc.gsa.gov

Question: I had to get a new ACES digital cert from ORC, as my DST ACES cert expired in December. With the new cert, I can't see any history from the old cert. Can this be fixed?
Answer: I'm sorry - I'm assuming that these certs were obtained from two different companies.  This would be questions specific to the company who issued your new cert.

Question: Federal Supply Price List, the requested information for General Service Information and Customer Information to be submit in the "Final" document only, after negotiations, or with the initial offer?
Answer: WIth your initial offer, you will provide a draft copy of your proposed GSA Schedule pricelist following the format in the clause.   After contract award, you will be required to submit a new pricelist reflecting all of the terms and conditions contained in the pricelist clause in addition to your awarded items and prices.

Question: When and where is the GSA trade show and how can we attend?
Answer: GSA Expo is located in Anaheim California this year.   The dates are April 22-24.  Check out the website for more info.  http://www.expo.gsa.gov/

Question: I want to have my books in proper order.  I use QBs and was wondering if I should have all GSA products under a GSA catagory?  And, do the POs come directly to our companies E-mail?
Answer: It may make it easier for you to track and report Schedule sales by segregating GSA Contract purchase/sales.  Just make sure you have a consistent process.

Question: My company is in the service industry - small marketing firm - seems as if GSA bidding is really only suited to larger firms that can send employees on-site for extended periods of time...
Answer: Not true...hang in there and continue to monitor opprotunities on eBuy and other government procurement sites.

Question: Are purchases done by a state or local gov't under GSA Schedule 70 cooperative purchasing accrued towards the $25,000 minimum annual purchase activity?
Answer: Yes, sales to state and local governments under the cooperative purchasing program count as GSA MAS sales and therefore count towards the minimum sales criteria.

Question: What about the validity of subscribing to a pay for view service to network or find out the important contacts to the various agencies?  Has that been a successful option for vendors on the GSA Schedule?
Answer: You will need to evaluate those offerings, and make your best business judgment.  Have the companies demonstrate how they can get you the information you need.

Question: As a manufacturer, if my products are on GSA by other resellers, can I still get a GSA contract?
Answer: Yes.  You can sell your own products with your own contract.

Question: You stated to market your products as you do for traditional clients, however if we can't get down to the product level how do we learn whom to visit or where to market?
Answer: You need to keep doing what you are doing - monitor fedbizopps and eBuy on a regular basis to watch for trends in similar products.

Question: Our first contract renewal will be coming due soon.  Where can I go to teach myself the proper methods to renew as well as add additional line items?
Answer: Your best step is to contact your Contracting Officer to get an understanding of what they will want.

Question: How long should it take to get your contract approved?
Answer: Contract awards can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days depending on how well your offer is put together, as well as the workload in each Acquisition Center.

Question: In the orientation, it stated that you need some kind of documentation for proof of origin of your products (TAA)!  Can you explain what kind of documentation that would be . . . written statement?
Answer: The Trade Agreements Act requires that ALL products on your GSA contract be from a signatory country aka Trade Agreement Act compliant.  It is up to you to provide positive proof that the products you are selling meet this requirement.

Question: My electronic file was rejected and I need to make a minor change. How do I do this on SIP?
Answer: I can't answer specifics about SIP, but either check out http://vsc.gsa.gov/sipuser/startup_kit.cfm or give the VSC helpdesk a call.   Contact info is at http://vsc.gsa.gov/.

Question: After submitting an e-offer, how long typically does it take to hear back?
Answer: You should hear who your offer is assigned to within 30 days.

Question: We have a contract for dormitory furniture and we are looking to create a new contract under the same name, but the items are not associated with our now contract.
Answer: You can certainly have multiple contracts.  Contact the appropriate acquisition center to discuss which schedule your products fit on.

Question: How can we go back to read previous questions and answers from this chat session?
Answer: A log of this chat will be available at the same site you used to login.  Logs of prior chats can be found at the old chat site.   Go to http://vsc.gsa.gov/ and click Vendor Training --> NCO webcast

Question: We will be submitting a mod to offer a new product on our schedule.  Our MFC is commercial customers, but this product will not be available commercially.  How should we determine the GSA price?
Answer: You've sold these products to commercial customers before?  If so, GSA will use this pricing info to negotiate/establish Schedule prices.  For purposes of the MFC/basis of award, assuming these products will NEVER be sold to commercial customers, you and your PCO will negotiate who the best MFC/Basis of Award would be.

Question: Is there guidance on whether a Schedule 70 contract or a MOBIS contract is a better fit? - we would be providing IT support services with labor categories - Oracle DBAs, Unix Admin, etc.
Answer: Contracts who primarily cover IT professional services should be on Schedule 70.

Question: Why do buyers of our products go to DSCR first, then GSA global, then "the blind" contract, then to GSA Advantage & then buy with credit card instead of buying thru GSA Advantage?  How does this help us?
Answer: Contractors are not required to use GSA and depending on the procurement, other sources may be in front of GSA in 'line".   Certain sources such as NIB/NISH and in stock inventories must be used for certain procurements in front of GSA contracts.

Question: Here's a message from Maryann concerning NAICS that some of you may find helpful -
Answer: If you need assistance with NAICS codes call your local procurement technical assistance center.  A list can be found on DLA site.

Question: When I negotiate a contract or purchase with a customer, is there a limit to how much can be open market items?
Answer: There is no contractual limit on adding "open market" items to a contract purchase.  Just remember that the customer will have to follow the FAR competition rules for the open market items.

Question: Our DOD customers often ask us to help them fill out the forms for GSA orders.  Where can I find the forms; where can I go; who can I call about what the various forms and ways a customer submits an order/PO?
Answer: Tell your customers that they will need to place the purchase order directly with your company.  There are no required forms by GSA.  The customer should have internal procedures for ordering, while abiding by FAR Part 8.4.

Question: How do I rearrange the order my items are listed on Advantage?
Answer: For technical questions about uploading files or your catalog appearance on GSA Advantage, you will need to contact the VSC helpdesk.  The number is at http://vsc.gsa.gov/.

Question: Why do organizations ask for discounts on GSA pricing?  Isn't GSA pricing supposed to be the lowest possible negotiated price?
Answer: Federal customers are no different than any other customer - we are always looking for the best deal.  If you choose not to offer additional discounts, that is your business decision.

Question: What is the best way to get on GSA Advantage with entire catalog?
Answer: You can load all of your products on GSA Advantage, or if your approved catalog is already listed on your website, you can provide a link to your website from Advantage.

Question: How often should one submit a modification for Schedule 70 contracts to add products?
Answer: You should submit a modification any time you are changing the products/ services you are offering.  The amount of mods will vary for different companies and different industries.

Question: Regarding the GSA logo on a company website - We provide many more products other than the GSA items.  Is it still okay to have the GSA logo on the front cover page?
Answer: Just make certain that you clearly identify the products or services that are on your GSA contract.  You may want to have a separate "GSA" page within your website.

Question: For the Vendor Response portion of the offer, it asks about Delivery Price in Geographic Area / Countries / Zones.  Is this for import & export only?
Answer: Both domestic (CONUS) as well as international if you offer international sales.

Question: What does PCO stand for?
Answer: PCO stands for Procurement Contracting Officer.  They award your contract.  ACO stands for Administrative Contracting Officer and they administer your contract post-award.