Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

BAAR: The Basics of What, Why, and When

Changes With BAAR and Who Will Be Affected by Them

Communication and Training for GSA Customers

BAAR: The Basics of What, Why, and When

 

What is the Billing and Accounts Receivable (BAAR) Project?

As a part of its modernization efforts, GSA is replacing the agency’s custom legacy system for billing, accounts receivable, and collections, known as the National Electronic Accounting and Reporting (NEAR) system. The new Billing and Accounts Receivable (BAAR) modules are part of GSA’s core financial management system, Pegasys, which runs on a Commercial Off the Shelf system, Momentum Financials,™ customized to GSA requirements. Pegasys will deliver to GSA and its customers an integrated Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) compliant core financial system. The Pegasys user interface is the Vendor and Customer Self Service (VCSS) website. GSA customers will access VCSS to download billing statements and billing information electronically.

Key objectives of the BAAR Project are to:

  • Consolidate billing and accounts receivable functions handled by separate systems, including NEAR, into a streamlined system
  • Deliver greater efficiency through standardization
  • Improve access to data and financial management reporting
  • Ensure GSA’s financial management human capital is helping to deliver world-class financial management services to its customers

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What Changed as a result of the BAAR Project?

The implementation of BAAR has resulted in several major changes.

  • GSA has one integrated system instead of many disparate systems with different user interfaces and controls
  • Updates have been made to the General Ledger (GL), reducing out-of-balance conditions
  • GSA is achieving efficiencies in meeting Treasury mandates as a result of having one integrated system
  • Business and system processes have changed to be compliant with government requirements and standard business processes, and any standard processes mirror what has been defined by these guidelines
  • GSA business line systems that provide accounts receivable and billing information to BAAR have been modified to send key financial information in the required BAAR formats
  • Virtual billing has been increased
  • GSA mailing paper billing statements to customers has been eliminated

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Why did we replace the current system?

All government agencies have a mandate to comply with federal standards, specifically:
 

  • Common Governmentwide Accounting Classification (CGAC)
  • Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) Standards
  • Treasury Financial Manual (TFM) Publications and Guidance

These changes were called for in the Treasury Modernization Act. Compliance with these standards will make inter-agency interaction easier for all parties. BAAR meets FSIO functional and system requirements and incorporates FSIO standard business processes for receivables management.

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When did this happen?

Implementation of the three-phase BAAR Project began in 2011 and was completed in February, 2016.

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Is NEAR still producing bills?

No, NEAR is no longer producing bills.

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Changes From BAAR and Who Will Be Affected by Them

 

Who was affected by the BAAR Project?

Please refer to the Schedule by Phase for information on the GSA business lines that have been affected by the BAAR Project.

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What are the benefits of BAAR?

BAAR offers many benefits to GSA and GSA customers, such as:

  • GSA’s ability to provide timely and accurate financial information for customers has been enhanced
  • GSA customers are able to access and download billing statements and billing information electronically through VCSS
  • While GSA has phased out paper billing statements and delivery of electronic billing files by email or file transfer protocol (FTP), the same information will be available on VCSS
  • Agencies are able to manage access to billing and collection data through VCSS, providing improved security and greater customer control
  • In support of governmentwide efforts to standardize financial management, GSA has standardized the way its billing data is populated in the Treasury Intragovernmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) files

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What has changed in how GSA’s customers access their billing statements?

BAAR introduced several changes to the way customer agencies access their billing statements.

  • WebBill and BillView have been replaced with the single VCSS website. Customers are able to download and print one PDF file covering billing statements from all GSA business lines.
  • GSA no longer mails paper billing statements. Customers must log in to VCSS to access and print billing statements.
  • Customers can view and download their billing statements in PDF format in VCSS. They can search their billing data and download it in comma separated values (CSV) format for use in other applications. PBS Rent customers will continue to get their billing statements on Rent on the Web (ROW), but can use VCSS in addition to ROW for reviewing and downloading billing data.
  • Bill formats for the affected business lines were improved. Brochures detailing the new formats for IPAC and non-IPAC are available on the Phase Materials and Communications pages.
  • GSA has standardized data population in the Intragovernmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) files. Brochures on data field changes are available on the Phase Materials and Communications pages.
  • To improve security, customer agencies are able to manage access to their billing and collection data through the new role of the customer VCSS Account Administrator, who approves requests prior to GSA granting access.

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What does Vendor Customer Self Service (VCSS) offer GSA customers?

VCSS (vcss.gsa.gov) is a website that provides GSA customers with online access to billing statements and billing data. It provides features that allow customers to:

  • View balances and statement detail by business line
  • View account summary including payments
  • Sort and query a wide array of account data
  • Download billing statements and billing data in a comma separated values (CSV) file
  • Search and view details across statements
  • Submit correspondence and initiate the dispute process electronically
  • Control access to their own accounts and information

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Has GSA changed the format of billing statements for customers?

Over the course of the three implementation phases of BAAR, GSA has consolidated 27 current statement formats into the following four new, standardized formats:

  • IPAC (Intragovernmental Payment and Collection)
  • Non-IPAC (Non-Intragovernmental Payment and Collection)
  • SIBAC (Simplified Intergovernmental Billing and Collection) for Department of Defense (DoD) customers of GSA Global Supply only
  • Historical statement for customers requiring historical information on their billing statements such as Reimbursable Work Authorization (RWA) and Heating Operations and Transmission District (HOTD)

For each of the four new billing statement formats the statement header information is standard across GSA business lines, and the statement detail is tailored to the content appropriate for the particular business line. For example, GSA Fleet IPAC statements have the standard GSA IPAC header, and in the detail section there is data specific to the GSA Fleet business line, such as vehicle tag number and mileage.

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Why has GSA made these changes to customers’ billing statement formats?

GSA’s work to consolidate, simplify, and standardize statement formats across GSA business lines was designed to improve the review and approval processes for customers. The new statements are also more readily identifiable as issued by GSA. The BAAR Project Team and the GSA business lines collaborated to ensure that the new detail format meets the needs of the business lines and their customers.

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Is VCSS different than the external RWA Entry and Tracking Application (eRETA)?

Yes. While VCSS provides access to billing statements and billing data, eRETA is a complementary application that 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. Furthermore, eRETA allows customers to submit RWA work requests online, track the progress of the request, and sign the RWA form electronically online. For more information on eRETA, please go to www.gsa.gov/ereta.

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Will my eRETA user log-in work for VCSS and vice versa?

Not at this time. To gain access to eRETA, please go to www.gsa.gov/ereta and follow the three-step process outlined there. To gain access to VCSS, visit vcss.gsa.gov and follow the guidance in the blue box at the top of the page.

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Does VCSS provide the same billing information as E-MORRIS?

VCSS has not replaced E-MORRIS, and E-MORRIS is available and unchanged. Wide Area Network (WAN)/Networx Customers are able to use VCSS as an additional option to E-MORRIS to access electronic Summary billing statements, and are also able to access VCSS to view and run queries on summarized billing data, collections, and to dispute billing statements, if desired.

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Does VCSS provide the same billing information as e*Bill?

VCSS has not replaced e*Bill, and e*Bill is available and unchanged. Local Telecom Service and WITS customers are able to use VCSS as an additional option to e*Bill to view and run queries on summarized billing data, collections, and to dispute billing statements, if desired.

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Communication and Training for GSA Customers

 

What VCSS training is available?

Customers can launch several training options from the Training tab of the VCSS website at vcss.gsa.gov. Resources include:

  • A comprehensive Welcome to VCSS training presentation covers all the functions of VCSS and how to use them, complete with screen shots and step-by-step instructions
  • A set of eight shorter training presentations cover the individual topics in the comprehensive presentation: Introduction, Account Registration and Requesting Access, Basic Navigation, Account Navigation, Statements and Disputes, Customer Payments, Correspondence, and External Applications
  • A set of eight training videos cover the same topics in the presentations, for those who prefer this approach to learning

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For customers using VCSS, what help is available?

The resources listed below are available on the Training tab of the VCSS website at vcss.gsa.gov. Customers can access these resources even if they have not yet registered for access to their account.

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What else is available to help customers?

An external customer information website (www.gsa.gov/baar) provides customers with general information on BAAR, the schedule for all three phases of implementation, and a set of customer-focused FAQs. It also provides archived materials about BAAR, such as brochures, flyers, and emails, on the Phase 1 Materials and Communications page, the Phase 2 Materials and Communications page and the Phase 3 Materials and Communications page.

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Who do customers contact if they have questions?

Customers may contact the Financial Systems Service Desk by email at OCFOServiceDesk@gsa.gov or by phone at 1-866-450-6588. The Financial Systems Service Desk refers questions to the individuals within GSA who have the specific knowledge needed to address them. The Financial Systems Service Desk operates from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM EST, Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays.

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Last Reviewed 2016-04-05