Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is the Billing and Accounts Receivable (BAAR) Project?
- What will change as a result of the BAAR Project?
- Why are we replacing the current systems?
- When will this happen?
- When will NEAR be turned off?
- Who will be affected by the BAAR Project?
- What are the benefits of BAAR?
- What will change in how GSA’s customers access their bills?
- What does Vendor Customer Self Service (VCSS) offer GSA customers?
- Will GSA change the format of bills for customers?
- Why is GSA making these changes to customers’ bill formats?
- Is VCSS different than the external RWA Entry and Tracking Application (eRETA)?
- Will my eRETA user log-in work for VCSS and vice versa?
- How can GSA customers learn how to use VCSS?
- For customers using VCSS, what help is available on that website?
- What else is available to help customers?
- Who do customers contact if they have questions?
As a part of its modernization efforts, the GSA Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) is replacing the agency’s custom legacy system for billing, accounts receivable, and collections, known as the National Electronic Accounting and Reporting (NEAR) system. As of the August 2011 implementation for GSA Fleet and PBS Rent, 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. Once all three phases of BAAR implementation are completed, Pegasys will deliver to GSA and its customers an integrated Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) compliant core financial system.
Key objectives of the BAAR Project are to:
- Consolidate billing and accounts receivable functions currently handled by separate systems, including NEAR, into a streamlined system;
- Deliver greater efficiency through standardization;
- Improve access to data and financial management reporting; and
- Ensure GSA’s financial management human capital is helping to deliver world-class financial management services to its customers.
The implementation of BAAR will result in several major changes.
- GSA will have one integrated system instead of many disparate systems with different user interfaces and controls.
- There will be immediate updates to the General Ledger (GL), reducing out-of-balance conditions.
- GSA will achieve efficiencies in meeting Treasury mandates as a result of having one integrated system.
- Business and system processes will change to be compliant with government requirements and standard business processes and any standard processes will have to mirror what has been defined by these guidelines.
- GSA business line systems that provide accounts receivable and billing information to BAAR may need to be modified to send key financial information in the required BAAR formats.
- Virtual billing will be increased.
- Non-IPAC (Non-Intragovernmental Payment and Collection) paper billing will be reduced.
All government agencies have a mandate to comply with federal standards, specifically:
- Common Government-wide Accounting Classification (CGAC),
- Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) Standards, and
- Treasury Financial Manual (TFM) Publications and Guidance.
These changes are driven by changes in the Treasury system as called for in the Treasury Modernization Act. Compliance with these standards will make intra-agency interaction easier for all parties. BAAR will meet FSIO functional and system requirements and incorporate FSIO standard business processes for receivables management. The BAAR Project Team and the CGAC Team will continue to work to ensure GSA remains CGAC-compliant over the remaining future CGAC phases.
The BAAR Project will be completed in three phases over the course of the next few years.
NEAR will be retired once BAAR is fully implemented.
The BAAR Project will affect all GSA customer agency staff through changes in how they will receive bills and billing information.
BAAR offers many benefits to GSA and GSA customers, such as:
- GSA’s ability to provide timely and accurate financial information for customers will be enhanced;
- GSA customers will be able to access and download bills and billing information electronically through the new Vendor and Customer Self Service (VCSS) website;
- While GSA will be phasing out paper bills and delivery of electronic billing files by e-mail or file transfer protocol (FTP), the same information will be available on VCSS;
- Agencies will be able to manage access to billing and collection data through VCSS, providing improved security and greater customer control; and
- In support of governmentwide efforts to standardize financial management, GSA is standardizing the way its billing data is populated in the Treasury Intragovernmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) files.
BAAR is introducing several changes in the way customer agencies access their bills.
- With Phase 1 implementation, GSA Fleet customers now access their bills and billing data through the new Vendor and Customer Self Service (VCSS) website instead of WebBill. Fleet billing history prior to implementation remains on WebBill. On VCSS, GSA Fleet customers can view and download their bills in PDF format. They can search their billing data and download it in comma separated values (CSV) format for use in other applications. PBS Rent customers continue to get their bills on Rent on the Web (ROW). They can use VCSS in addition to ROW for reviewing and downloading billing data.
- As Phases 2 and 3 are implemented, WebBill and other GSA billing sites will be replaced with the single VCSS website, and customers will be able to download and print one PDF file covering their bills from all the GSA business lines they use (with the exception of PBS Rent).
- Bill formats for the affected business lines will change, with the exception of PBS Rent. Customers of GSA Fleet have been accessing these new bills from the VCSS website since August 2011. Brochures detailing the new formats for IPAC and non-IPAC customers of GSA Fleet are available on the More Information tab on this website (www.gsa.gov/baar) and through links in the Quick Links box in the upper right corner of all pages.
- To improve security, customer agencies will be able to manage access to their billing and collection data through the new role of the customer VCSS Account Administrator, who will approve requests before GSA grants access.
- GSA will standardize data population in the Intragovernmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) files. This was completed for GSA Fleet and PBS Rent at the time of BAAR Phase 1. For customers of these two business lines, the BAAR Project Team published brochures with details on the changes. These brochures are available on the More Information tab on this website (www.gsa.gov/baar) and through links in the Quick Links box in the upper right corner of all pages.
VCSS – https://vcss.ocfo.gsa.gov – is a website that provides GSA customers with online access to bills and billing data. It has the same level of functionality available through WebBill and provides additional 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 bills and billing data in a comma separated values (CSV) file,
- Search and view details across statements,
- Submit correspondence and initiate the dispute process electronically, and
- Control access to their own accounts and information.
Please also review the VCSS FAQs for more detail. A link to this document is in the Quick Links box in the upper right corner of all pages on this website. Or access it directly with this link http://www.gsa.gov/graphics/staffoffices/BAAR_VCSS_FAQs.pdf.
Over the course of the three implementation phases of BAAR, GSA will consolidate 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, and
- Historical statement for customers requiring historical information on their bills such as Reimbursable Work Authorization (RWA) and Heating Operations and Transmission District (HOTD).
For each of the four new bill formats the statement header information will be standard across GSA business lines, and the statement detail will be tailored to the content appropriate for the particular business line. For example, as of Phase 1 implementation in August 2011, 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.
During Phase 1, the new IPAC and non-IPAC statement formats were implemented for the GSA Fleet business line. There were no changes to the bill format for the PBS Rent business line.
GSA’s work to consolidate, simplify, and standardize statement formats across GSA business lines is designed to improve the review and approval processes for customers. The new statements will also be more readily identifiable as issued by GSA. During Phase 1, the OCFO and the GSA Fleet business line collaborated to ensure that the new detail format meets the needs of the business line and their customers.
Yes. While VCSS provides access to bills 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, in 2014, eRETA 2.0 will be released, which will allow 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.
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 www.gsa.gov/baar and follow the guidance in the blue box at the top of the page.
Customers can launch several training options from the VCSS page on the customer information website at www.gsa.gov/portal/content/246457
- 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.
The four resources listed below are available on the Help tab of the VCSS website at https://vcss.ocfo.gsa.gov. Customers can access these resources even if they have not yet registered for access to their account.
- The VCSS User Guide has step-by-step instructions.
- The VCSS Customer Help feature includes a table of contents and a glossary of terms.
- The Customer Training option links to the VCSS training presentations and videos on www.gsa.gov/baar.
- The CSV Download Instructions show the steps to download account data from VCSS in comma separated values (CSV) format.
In addition to the VCSS online training presentations and videos, 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. The site’s More Information page at www.gsa.gov/portal/content/246473 is where customers can access additional materials including:
- Information specific to GSA Fleet users of WebBill;
- Correspondence from the OCFO to customer agencies; and
- Customer brochures on VCSS, the new bill formats, and GSA’s standardization of data population in IPAC files.
For questions about Phase 1 implementation for the GSA Fleet and PBS Rent business lines, please contact the OCFO Service Desk by email at OCFOServiceDesk@gsa.gov or by phone at 1-866-450-6588. The Service Desk refers questions to the individuals within GSA who have the specific knowledge needed to address them. The Service Desk operates from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM EST, Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays.
For the Phase 2 implementation for Reimbursable Work Authorizations (RWA), Heating Operation and Transmission District (HOTD), and GSA Global Supply coming in 2013, please send questions by email to BAAR@gsa.gov.