The General Services Administration (GSA) makes use of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the General Services Acquisition Manual (GSAM) as its primary bodies of regulation in the federal marketplace. The basic knowledge and understanding of these regulations are essential in fulfilling the requirements to be in GSA Schedule Contract compliance. During contracting, it is not uncommon to encounter FAR or GSAM clauses that start with an unfamiliar acronym. For this reason, the GSA has put up Acquisition.gov for GSA Contract holders to find the meaning of said acronyms, for they acknowledge that no one has the leisure to study through all the clauses.
Top 3 GSA Schedule Regulations Every Business Should Know About
The process of studying and remembering all the clauses is virtually impossible. However, the following are the top 3 regulations that GSA Schedule Contract holders must know and understand:
1. ELIGIBLE ORDERING ACTIVITIES
Clause (GSAM) 552.238-113 or simply, the Eligible Ordering Activities describes the “agencies and activities” that can acquire products and services using GSA Schedules. It is inclusive of the federal agencies and lists other entities that can purchase off a GSA Schedule, such as the American Red Cross, the United Nations, and the European Space Research Organization, to name a few. Hence, when opting for a GSA Schedule Contract, it is essential to be familiar with your potential customers.
Other eligible entities include executive agencies, government contractors with written and authenticated authorization from a federal agency, government corporations, federal agencies, tribal governments, qualified nonprofit agencies, and many more.
This clause states that GSA Contract holders must accept orders from the federal government. It also encourages GSA Contract holders to accept orders from other eligible entities but does not obligate it. Additionally, this clause establishes that GSA Schedules can use domestic or overseas delivery.
This clause also taps on the Cooperative Purchasing and Disaster Purchasing Program, which allows the state and local governments to acquire certain products and services that are not on GSA Schedules when the head of state has declared a national emergency.
In summary, (GSAM) 552.238-113 – Eligible Ordering Activities streamlines the agencies and activities that are eligible for acquiring products and services under GSA Schedule Contracts. In this clause, you can also find the significant reasons for buying products and services outside GSA Schedules during a state of national emergency.
It is crucial for GSA Contract holders to know and be familiar with this clause to know the eligible candidates to sell to, thus offering products and services that can cater better to their needs. Additionally, familiarity with this clause can reduce violations in the GSA Schedule Contract and remain in GSA Schedule Contract compliance.
2. TRADE AGREEMENTS ACT
FAR 52.225-5, otherwise known as the Trade Agreements clause, posits that the products and services offered and sold under GSA Schedule Contracts must adhere to the Trade Agreements Act (TAA). The TAA is an act used in evaluating whether a business can sell foreign products and services through the federal marketplace.
There are four categories of countries that are considered eligible for government acquisition purposes: World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement (WTO GPA) countries, Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries, least developed countries, and Caribbean Basin countries. WTO GPA is an agreement between WTO members wherein an open government procurement market between parties gets upheld. If an end product gets made or “substantially transformed” in a WTO GPA-member country, it is eligible and deemed compliant with the TAA. Based on this FAR clause, “substantially transformed” means that an end product was made “into a new and different article of commerce with a name, character, or use distinct from that of the article or articles from which it was transformed.”
To avoid penalties and future problems, you may want to make sure that your products or services’ country of origin is eligible. To remain compliant with your GSA Contract, here are the major non-TAA compliant countries to look out for:
- Sri Lanka
It is important to note that the list of countries is ever-changing depending on current international affairs shifts. It is also noteworthy that TAA compliance can be waived under this clause, as we have recently noticed for certain products due to the ongoing onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FAR 52.225-5 – Trade Agreements is a clause ensuring that the products and services offered by GSA Schedule Contract holders are compliant with the Trade Agreements Act. This clause lists the non-TAA compliant countries, and thus, must veer away from, and also lists four major categories of countries deemed TAA-compliant. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown an extraordinary event where TAA compliance gets waived for specific products.
It is vital for GSA Contract holders to know and be familiar with the FAR 52.225-5 – Trade Agreements clause to know whether or not the products and services they offer are eligible to the federal marketplace. This knowledge provides the awareness of only providing TAA-compliant products and services to remain in GSA Contract compliance.
3. INDUSTRIAL FUNDING FEE AND SALES REPORTING
The (GSAM) 552.238-80, or Industrial Funding Fee and Sales Reporting clause establishes how GSA Contract holders must report their GSA sales and pay the Industrial Funding Fee (IFF). The GSA can self-fund its GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. This clause is divided into two, outlining procedures for Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) and non-transactional Data Reporting contracts. For TDR contracts, companies must report sales every month. On the other hand, non-TDR deals must report sales by the month following the end of a quarter. Both contracts can notify their sales via receipt of order, shipment or delivery, invoice issuance, or payment, as long as they remain consistent with their chosen payment method.
Through the Federal Acquisition Sales Reporting Portal, sales are reported by Schedule and SIN, even if there are no sales for that period, in which case, the GSA Contract holder will indicate zero dollars.
The (GSAM) 552.238-80, or Industrial Funding Fee and Sales Reporting clause stipulates the need for reporting GSA sales and remitting IFF fees. This clause explains the procedures that both TDR contract and non-TDR contract holders must follow in writing sales. This clause also highlighted the importance of the IFF.
This clause established the importance of reporting GSA sales and paying the IFF fee to keep the GSA Schedule system running. Knowledge of this clause prevents future offending of this essential factor in remaining GSA Contract compliant.
Although it is salient to know GSA Regulations, it is virtually impossible to study them thoroughly. However, knowing these three principal regulations is an excellent step toward keeping yourself in GSA Schedule Contract compliance.
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