Ordering Guidelines

Basic Schedule ordering guidelines provide useful information to start ordering from GSA Schedules. The GSA Schedule Order: Contract File Checklist [PDF - 368 KB] may be used for the award of task or delivery orders against General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts (also referred to as “Multiple Award Schedule” or “GSA Schedule” contracts) and the establishment of Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) against GSA FSS contracts.

Price reductions on GSA Schedule contracts are often provided on specific orders and under Schedule blanket purchase agreements (BPAs). Ordering activities may seek price reductions at any time before placing an order or establishing a BPA. When the order or BPA exceeds the simplified acquisition threshold, the ordering activity MUST request price reductions, although it is up to each Schedule contractor to decide whether to offer any reductions in the particular circumstances of each specific order/BPA.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) has been amended to incorporate policies that address the handling of open market items.

Note: 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 may add items not on the GSA Schedule (Multiple Award 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.

Under the provisions of Pub. Law 110-417 implemented at FAR 17.502-1, prior to placing a Schedule order with a value greater than $550,000, the requiring agency must make a determination that use of GSA Schedule contracts constitutes the best procurement approach. This determination, at a minimum, must include an analysis using the following factors (FAR 17.502-1(a)(2)):

  1. The suitability of a GSA Schedule as the contract vehicle;
  2. The value of using the contract vehicle, including:
    1. The administrative cost savings from using an already existing contract;
    2. Lower prices, greater number of vendors, and reasonable vehicle access fees; and
  3. The expertise of the requesting agency to place orders and administer them against the selected contract vehicle throughout the acquisition lifecycle.

If the requiring agency will place the order, this determination should be made as a part of the procurement planning process, prior to any public announcements of the requirement such as eBuy posting. If using the services of another agency to conduct the acquisition, the determination is made prior to requesting the assistance of the ordering agency. Both the requiring agency and the ordering agency must retain file copies of the requiring agency’s determination.

GSA Schedules have been synopsized in FedBizOpps and satisfy the requirements of the Competition in Contracting Act (Pub. Law 98-369) and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 5, Publicizing Contract Actions. Therefore, in general, competitive (fair opportunity) Schedule Orders and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) are not required to be synopsized in FedBizOpps. Two exceptions to this general exemption from publicizing Schedule actions are as follows:

  • For any Schedule Order or BPA in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold AND supported by a Limited Source Justification (LSJ), the action will be publicized in FedBizOpps along with the LSJ – EXCEPTION: if the LSJ is for a brand name restriction.
  • For a Schedule Order or BPA in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold AND supported by a brand name restricted LSJ, the LSJ will be posted on eBuy together with the Request for Quotation.
GSA Advantage!® is an electronic online shopping and ordering system. GSA Advantage!® provides online access to thousand of contractors and millions of supplies (products) and services.

For a listing of the very latest contract award information, search GSA eLibrary (formerly Schedules e-Library) by Special Item Number (SIN), Contractor, Contract Number, Schedule Number, or Keywords. Once a Schedule is selected, a list of SINs will appear. Selecting a SIN will then display all contractors awarded under that SIN. Selecting a contractor name will then reveal detailed contractor information, including Internet and email addresses, if available. The email address will enable customers to send an email directly to the Schedule contractor to request a copy of the contractor's Schedule pricelist or any other contract information.

Customers without access to the Internet may contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at (800) 488-3111 for a list of current Schedule contractors. Customers should consult the contractor's catalog/pricelist for more detailed ordering information, such as:

  • Contract items awarded;
  • Maximum order provisions;
  • Geographic coverage (delivery area);
  • Contract prices or discounts;
  • Quantity discounts;
  • Prompt payment terms;
  • Government purchase card terms;
  • Commercial delivery terms;
  • Expedited delivery;
  • Ordering address(es);
  • Payment address(es);
  • Warranty provisions;
  • Export packing charges;
  • Applicable terms and conditions of rental, maintenance, installation, and repair; and
  • Environmental and energy efficiency.

GSA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) strongly support the participation of small business concerns in the GSA Schedules Program. To enhance small business participation, SBA policy allows agencies to include in their procurement base and goals, the dollar value of orders expected to be placed against GSA Schedule contracts. Actual orders placed against Schedule contracts may be reported as accomplishments and credited toward ordering activities' small business goals.

At the discretion of the ordering activity contracting officer, orders and BPAs may be set aside for small businesses of the types listed at FAR 19.000(a)(3), if market research shows that 2 or more such firms are capable of providing the products and/or services required. Ordering procedures at FAR 8.405-1, -2, and -3 must be followed when setting aside an order or establishing a set-aside BPA.

For orders exceeding the micro-purchase threshold, FAR 8.405 requires agencies to consider reasonably available information by surveying at least three Schedule contractors through the GSA Advantage!® online shopping service, or reviewing the catalogs/pricelists of at least three Schedule contractors. The catalogs/pricelists and GSA Advantage!® contain information on a broad array of supplies and services offered by small business contractors. This information should be used as a tool to assist agencies in providing the maximum practicable opportunities for small business concerns.

When conducting evaluations and making a best value determination before placing an order, ordering activities should consider including, if available, at least one small business, veteran-owned small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, HUBZone small business, women-owned small business, or small disadvantaged business Schedule contractor. Ordering activities should also give preference to the items of small business concerns when two or more items at the same delivered price will satisfy the requirement.

In accordance with FAR 8.405-5(a), ordering activities should rely on the small business representations made by Schedule contractors at the contract level.

The Ability One Program (NIB/NISH), formerly known as the Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) Program, provides many supplies and services to federal customers under its mandatory source authority. Before making any purchase from a Schedule contractor, ordering activities should determine if there is a comparable AbilityOne (NIB/NISH) supply or service. Ordering activities should contact an AbilityOne representative to determine if there is an appropriate supply manufactured or service performed by people who are blind or have other severe disabilities.

UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries) is a mandatory source of supply for certain items similar to those on GSA Schedules. Ordering activities are encouraged to purchase UNICOR supplies and services to the maximum extent practicable.

In accordance with FAR 8.6, if a UNICOR supply item meets the ordering activity's requirement, before purchasing the item from UNICOR, the ordering activity should conduct market research to determine whether the UNICOR item is comparable to supplies available from the private sector that best meet the government's needs in terms of price, quality, and time of delivery. If the UNICOR item is comparable, the ordering activity should follow UNICOR's ordering procedures and purchase the item from UNICOR, unless UNICOR grants a waiver (FAR 8.604), or one of the circumstances in FAR 8.605 applies. Visit UNICOR's website to view a list of UNICOR supplies and services, and to access UNICOR's ordering procedures.

Note: FAR 8.002 specifies the order of priority when acquiring supplies or services. Although UNICOR has priority over GSA Schedules for supplies, GSA Schedules have priority over UNICOR for services.

GSA Schedule contractors may use Contractor Team Arrangements to provide total solutions when responding to a customer's requirements. The Contractor Team Arrangements Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provide information on how CTAs work under GSA Schedules and the benefits they provide to both ordering activities and contractors.
Ordering activities may establish Blanket Purchase Agreements under Schedule contracts to fill recurring needs for supplies and services. The Blanket Purchase Agreement Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provide a variety of information on the use of BPAs under GSA Schedule contracts.

To assist customers' efforts in complying with the requirements of environmental laws and Executive Orders (considering price, availability, and performance requirements), Schedule contractors have been requested (where possible and/or feasible) to identify items that:

  • Have recycled content (e.g.,EPA-designated items in the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines Program);
  • Are energy and/or water saving (e.g., Energy Star-certified or Federal Energy Management Program-designated);
  • Have biobased content (USDA-designated items in the BioPreferred Program);
  • Are or contain EPA-specified alternatives to ozone-depleting substances; and
  • Have reduced toxic or hazardous constituents (e.g., low volatile organic compounds (VOCs)).

Note: Customers should review contractor literature and contact the contractor directly to obtain complete information regarding environmental claims. Applicable guidance can be found in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23, Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) Part 223, and on the Environmental Products website.

Generally, GSA Schedules will no longer have a prescribed beginning and ending date. The Schedule periods will be continuous, and will contain contracts with contract periods that commence on the Date of Award (DOA) and expire in five years (exclusive of any options) from the DOA.
Evergreen contracting expands the multiyear contracts for all GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) to one five-year basic contract period and three five-year Evergreen option periods.

Only equipment offered on a GSA Schedule may be leased. Some guidelines for leasing are as follows:

Once the equipment has been selected, a determination needs to be made as to whether it is more advantageous to lease or purchase the equipment. The contracting officer should compare the leasing terms offered from the third-party leasing companies in the Schedule, as well as those offered by the Schedule equipment sellers. For example, most Information Technology (IT) leases, other than Lease to Ownership Plans (LTOP), require the ordering activity and the leasing contractor to determine, as part of the initial lease agreement, the market value of the equipment at the end of the lease term; i.e., its residual value.

Once the best leasing terms have been selected, the contracting officer can compare the advantages of leasing to those of direct purchase. OMB Circular A-94, paragraph c, describes the economic analysis that is to be used in determining the economic impact of leasing vs. purchasing.

Leasing requires a commitment on the agency's part for all the terms and conditions of the lease for the full term of the lease. If an agency has annual appropriations requiring issuance of supplemental funding documents, the agency's procurement and accounting systems must be capable of timely generation of the requirement documents. Customers must also be mindful of submitting "renewal delivery orders" in a timely manner to ensure that their leases do not expire. Cancellation of a lease for lack of funds should only be done when the organization is no longer funded. Court decisions have held that termination for convenience should only be employed when the agency no longer has a requirement for the equipment.

Example: An employee has retired and the position will not be filled, so now there is a piece of equipment that is not needed. In other words, a desire for something different, newer, or better is not a justification for the premature cancellation of a lease.

Note: Customers are reminded to submit their renewal delivery orders in a timely manner to ensure that their leases do not expire.

The agencies and activities named below may use contracts established under GSA Schedules:

  • All federal agencies and activities in the executive, legislative and judicial branches;
  • Government contractors authorized in writing by a federal agency pursuant to 48 CFR 51.1;
  • Mixed ownership government corporations (as defined in the Government Corporation Control Act);
  • The government of the District of Columbia; and Other activities and organizations authorized by statute or regulation to use GSA as a source of supply.

Note: The GSA Order, Eligibility to Use GSA Sources of Supply and Services [PDF - 447 KB] , provides further information regarding agencies and activities authorized to use GSA Schedules.

All GSA Schedules provide contractors the opportunity to offer worldwide coverage. Schedule contractors may offer any of the following three categories of geographic coverage:

  • Domestic, which will cover delivery to the 48 contiguous states; Washington, DC; Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico; and U.S. territories;
  • Worldwide, which will cover delivery domestically and overseas; and
  • Overseas Only, which will cover delivery to overseas destinations.

Agencies may make payments for oral or written orders by using the governmentwide commercial purchase card. Payments made using the GSA SmartPay® purchase card are not eligible for any negotiated prompt payment discount.

"Governmentwide commercial purchase card" means a uniquely numbered credit card issued to named individual government employees or entities, to pay for official government purchases.

Schedule contractors are required to accept the government purchase card as payment for acquisitions up to the micro-purchase threshold. The card may be used for payment in excess of this threshold if the using agency and contractor agree.

Guidance on the use of the governmentwide commercial purchase card is available on the GSA SmartPay® website. Customer agencies will also have their own internal operating procedures.

The contractor must not process a transaction for payment through the credit card clearinghouse until the purchased supplies have been shipped, or services performed. Unless the cardholder requests correction or replacement of a defective or faulty item in accordance with other contract requirements, the contractor will immediately credit a cardholder's account for items returned as defective or faulty.

General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM) Clause 552.211-73, Marking, incorporates general requirements that address delivery to civilian and military activities.

General requirements—Interior packages, if any, and exterior shipping containers must be marked as specified elsewhere in the contract. Additional marking requirements may be specified on delivery orders issued under the contract. If not otherwise specified, interior packages and exterior shipping containers must be marked in accordance with the following standards:

  • Deliveries to civilian activities. Supplies are to be marked in accordance with Federal Standard 123, edition in effect on the date of issuance of the solicitation.
  • Deliveries to military activities. Supplies must be marked in accordance with Military Standard 129, edition in effect on the date of issuance of the solicitation.
  • Improperly marked material. When government inspection and acceptance are at destination, and delivered supplies are not marked in accordance with contract requirements, the government has the right, without prior notice to the contractor, to perform the required marking, by contract or otherwise, and charge the contractor, therefore, at the rate specified elsewhere in this contract. This right is not exclusive, and is in addition to other rights or remedies provided for in this contract.

General Services Administration
Customer/Vendor Relations

Greater Southwest Acquisition Center

Center for IT Schedule Programs

Integrated Workplace Acquisition Center (formerly National Furniture Center)

Office of Motor Vehicle Management

National Administrative Services and Office Supplies Acquisition Center

Management Services Center

Center for Innovative Acquisition Development (formerly Center for Services Acquisition)

Center for Facilities Maintenance and Hardware

Travel and Transportation Services

GSA Advantage!®/eBuy

Customer Service Directors are available, worldwide, to provide a variety of assistance to Schedule customers.
Trade-ins (exchanges) will be considered against the purchase of new equipment and will be used in determining the "best value" purchase at the lowest overall cost; i.e., the price of the item plus administrative costs. If equipment was traded in as part of the purchase arrangement, the file should show the type, brand and value of the equipment exchanged. Trade-ins should comply with provisions of the Federal Management Regulation (FMR) Part 102-39.

The Trade Agreements Act (19 U.S.C. 2501, et seq.) is the enabling statute that implements numerous multilateral and bilateral international trade agreements and other trade initiatives. Since the estimated dollar value of each Schedule exceeds the established Trade Agreements Act (TAA) threshold, the TAA is applicable to all Schedules. In accordance with the TAA, only U.S. made or designated country end products will be offered and sold under Schedule contracts.

GSA works with Schedule contractors to ensure compliance with the Trade Agreements Act. For questions regarding the TAA, contact the MAS Helpdesk (National Customer Service Center) on 800-488-3111.

Options may be included on orders placed against GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts, provided that the options are clearly stated in the requirement and are evaluated as part of the ordering activity's best value determination. Such options may be exercised on GSA Schedule contract orders, provided that:

  • Funds are available;
  • The requirement covered by the option fulfills an existing government need;
  • Prior to exercising an option, the ordering activity ensures that it is still in the government's best interest, i.e., that the option is the most advantageous method of fulfilling the government's need, price, and other factors considered;
  • The term for each order placed under the Schedule contract is specified in the order. Under no circumstances may an order be placed under the Schedule contract if the Schedule contract has expired, or has been terminated or cancelled by the government;
  • Pricing on an order, including options, does not exceed pricing on the Schedule contract. Pricing for any order, including options, must be in place prior to the award of any order including those extending beyond the Schedule contract ordering period; and
  • Options on orders are not exercised beyond the ordering period of the Schedule contract, including Schedule contract option year periods, unless the Schedule contracts includes clause 52.216-22 (Oct 1995) which provides in the fill-in for orders to extend up to 60 months beyond contract expiration. Before placing an order it is advisable to verify that the FSS Schedule contract has FAR 52.216-22 (Oct 1995) to allow for the exercise of options on orders beyond the contract period. However, no orders or options on orders may extend more than 60 months after the expiration of the FSS Schedule contract.

The length of the order and the risk to the ordering activity could be considered as part of the overall evaluation of best value.

Our GSA FAQ page offers more information on the clauses in the Schedule contract.

BPAs under Schedule contracts may also be established with options, including options that extend beyond the end of the basic Schedule contract period, so long as there are option periods in the GSA contract that, if exercised, will cover the BPA’s option periods of performance.

The prerequisites to exercise a BPA option are as follows: The contracting officer’s written annual review of the BPA FAR 8.405-3(e) will support the following determinations:

  • The Schedule contract upon which the BPA was established is still in effect;
  • The BPA still represents the best value (see FAR 8.404(d)); and
  • Whether the estimated quantities/amounts have been exceeded and additional price reductions can be obtained.

The determination will be included in the BPA file documentation supporting the option exercise.

If the BPA was established as a single-award BPA, the foregoing contracting officer’s determination must have been approved by the ordering activity competition advocate.

Other Direct Costs (ODCs) are charges in direct support of a service. They are commercial items. To the extent possible, all anticipated ODCs associated with performance and within the scope of the GSA Schedule contract should be offered, and have an established contract price. Other Direct Costs must not be the primary purpose of the task order. GSA Schedules currently provides an Ancillary Supplies and/or Services Special Item Number (SIN) that can support supplies or services from a specific Schedule. Note these supplies and services can only be purchased in support of other supplies/services available through that specific Schedule or SINs listed in the description.

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 51.1, Contractor Use of Government Supply Sources, prescribes policies and procedures under which contractors can use government supply sources, including GSA Schedule contracts. When determined to be in the best interest of the government, contracting officers may authorize contractors to use GSA Schedule contracts in the performance of cost-reimbursement contracts.

On October 23, 2014, The GSA Senior Procurement Executive Jeff Koses signed a class deviation to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 51. This class deviation allows contracting officers to authorize all GSA contractors, who are performing on a time-and-material or labor-hour basis, to purchase ancillary supplies and services from Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contractors or process requisitions through the GSA Global Supply Program. This class deviation is valid for five (5) years from October 23, 2014.

The Contractor Use of Schedules document below provides information for ordering activities to use when authorizing contractors to use Schedule contracts in accordance with FAR Part 51.

  1. Introduction of the FAR 51 Deviation;
  2. Criteria for Use;
  3. Responsibilities;
  4. Process;
  5. Questions and Answers; and
  6. Authorization Template

Download the Deviation Ordering Guide [PDF - 1 MB]

For more information, you can watch our FAR 51 video series on our YouTube playlist (a nongovernment website).

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