Overtime Utilities: FAQs
If you don't find your question and answer below, please submit your question to the PBS OU Help Desk.
- Is there a mechanism for tenants to make a claim and receive a credit when it is believed that required services during the 10-hour day are not consistently provided?
For 10-hour day service issues, work with the GSA Property Manager and Regional Account Manager to resolve any disputes on service disruptions.
- If a TENANT regularly requires greater than 10-hours of services per day, can the lease or occupancy agreement be adjusted to increase or change “normal base operating hours” in order to reduce overall costs?
For federally owned space, standard utility services included in the operating rent are based on the value of a one-shift office operation, Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays. PBS provides a consistent heating or cooling temperature for one shift (minimum of 10 operating hours). If the local market practice provides standard HVAC hours that exceed 10 hours (and/or Saturday hours), and the lease states the building’s normal operating hours, additional reimbursement is not required for those hours and there is no additional cost to the government for tenant special services. For more information, please see Section 2.6 (page 2–23) of GSA's pricing desk guide [PDF - 1 MB].
- Does the 10 hours include the time it takes buildings to ramp up to required temperatures?
The 10 hours is “at temperature” so startup and shutdown associated with the standard 10-hour operating time are not included and won’t be charged (however, HVAC services and the associated startup and shutdown outside of the standard 10 hours will be charged).
- What are the required minimum and maximum temperatures that GSA sets for buildings and do they vary by region/location?
According to FMR 102-74.185, temperatures are intended to be between 74°F and 78°F in the summer months and between 68°F and 72°F in the winter months, though this may vary due to geographical locations, building design, and building use.
- How are costs for IT server rooms assessed and are they different from other OU costs?
Because server rooms have more equipment running per square foot than the average office space, we ensure the amount of energy being consumed to cool the space is equal to the amount of energy heating the space.
- Who pays for the humidification system in the building?
According to FMR §102-74.185, humidification in federal space where the agency has special tenant improvements such as special wood millwork and wall covering material is the responsibility of the agency.
- How does GSA calculate the total KW used for both the heating and cooling seasons?
This is based on the equipment selected for each season on the maintenance feeder sheet in GSA’s estimating tool through RETA.
- How does GSA estimate the load on various pieces of equipment?
The Property Managers work with the O&M Contractor to review the loads on the equipment using the equipment logs or BAS system.
- Does GSA include “other costs” within OU billings?
Yes—depending on the specific tenant request, we consider preventative maintenance labor, above-standard cleaning, and mechanical labor and material costs (e.g., special cleaning needed for a firing range, extra cleaning after an event, and starting up the building’s HVAC equipment.)
- How are OUs assessed when multiple agencies within the same building request OU for the same or overlapping periods?
The OU shared equipment cost is split between the estimates, taking into account both time and space requirements to satisfy each tenant’s request.
- How are the prices per unit of fuel established?
They are pulled from the actual utility bills that are loaded into the Energy Usage Analysis System (EUAS).
- How can an agency obtain documentation supporting the OU charges?
The tenant can request a copy from EUAS from their Property Manager.
- What is the process for above standard services estimates?
The above standard services estimating process normally begins in May-June of each year with communications between GSA and the tenant agency. GSA confirmation of above standard service needs and the necessary approvals are completed by August. The estimates are validated by the agency in eRETA when the agency links them to a work request after the agency has received the Verification of Need. Subsequent eRETA work requests from the customer begin in October.
- How are above standard service rates determined in GSA Leased space? Overtime HVAC rates are typically part of a GSA lease contract and are negotiated at the onset of the lease.
If agencies have requirements for other above standard services, such as janitorial, snow removal, cooling unit maintenance, etc, these needs should be provided to GSA during the requirements development phase. This will provide GSA with the necessary information to properly negotiate rates in the lease up front.
If a requirement comes up after the lease has been signed, GSA re-enters negotiations with the lessor to determine the rate which is then memorialized in a lease amendment. Examples of this may include preventative maintenance on government installed improvements or enhanced cleaning required for specialized space (unknown during requirements development stage).
- Does my agency need to provide an accounting or log of hours used for above standard services in my space?
Yes. This is a crucial part of the process to ensure proper tracking and accounting of the above standard services provided. Once your requested above standard service is funded and in place, your LAM will contact you to establish a schedule for when this information should be provided.
- Which services are considered “above standard” in GSA Leased space?
Above standard services are defined as additional services orderable subject to the terms and conditions of the Lease Agreement. The following are commonly ordered above standard services:
- Janitorial services (beyond the hours of operation specified in the lease)
- Special cleaning (above office standard provided by PBS).
- Snow removal services.
- Operations & Maintenance and additional utility costs related to tenant equipment or fixtures.
- Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning operating hours exceeding the operating hours established in the lease contract. Please ask your LAM for a copy of the lease if you’re not aware of those hours.
- What is the difference between severable services and non-severable services?
A severable service is one in which the service is continuing in nature and the client agency receives value as the service is rendered. Generally, these can be considered as “services” - quarterly carpet shampooing, overtime HVAC every Saturday for 8 hours, monthly server room cooling unit maintenance, etc.
A non-severable service results in the delivery of a final product and a benefit that is received only when the entire project is complete. Generally, these can be considered as “projects” - build-out of lease space, repairs and alterations, renovation, new construction, etc.
- Are overtime above standard services severable or non-severable?
Overtime above standard services are severable because they are continuing in nature and a benefit is received each time the overtime above standard services are used.
- I have received my above standard services estimate. When do I need to provide my RWA?
As stated in the customer “Verification of Need” letter issued by eRETA, customers are required to provide their RWA funding by November 1 of the current fiscal year or within 30 days of receiving an estimate. After that time, GSA will only continue to provide stopgap funding for “mission critical” above standard service needs (defined below). In the absence of an RWA, GSA will evaluate the continuance of this stopgap funding on a quarterly basis.
- What constitutes a “mission critical” need?
As discussed by OMB in their December 2, 2021, Frequently Asked Questions During Agency Lapse of Appropriations, are those services for which a lapse in provision would have “some reasonable likelihood that either the safety of life or the protection of property would be compromised in some significant degree by failure to carry out the function in question -- and that the threat to life or property can be reasonably said to be near at hand and demanding of immediate response” (such as keeping a server room cooled 24/7 to prevent damage to critical agency equipment).
- What if my agency is operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR)?
A CR should not prevent a customer from paying for its above standard services. If a customer is unable to pay for its above standard services, then GSA should assist it in reducing its required services to a sustainable level. Even when customer agencies are operating under a CR, they are allowed to operate at the previous year spending levels. As such, customer agencies have the funding to pay for above standard services and should provide GSA with an RWA for each CR period until the CR ends. Customers should also keep in mind that the flat $500 fee for recurring RWAs (e.g. OUs in GSA owned space) is charged in the first month of billing, regardless of whether the RWA is fully funded or partially funded due to the CR. Once the customer receives their full annual appropriation, an RWA for the remainder of the year must be provided to PBS. A user guide for GSA employees and customers on how to process overtime utility RWAs during a CR can be found at www.gsa.gov/ereta on the “eRETA Training Materials” page.
- Can I move my period of performance to a later date in the fiscal year to ensure I have funds available to provide an RWA?
Yes. A 12 month period of performance can be shifted to start later in the fiscal year to ensure full RWA funding is available to cover those above standard service needs across fiscal years (i.e. 6/1/XX - 5/31/XX instead of 10/1/XX - 9/30/XX). This option is only applicable to above standard services funded by “N Type” RWA’s. Contact your GSA Lease Administration Manager (LAM) to discuss feasibility.
- What are the different types of RWAs available for funding Above Standard Services in leases?
Non-recurring above standard severable services, including overtime utilities (OUs):
- N-Types should be used when there is sufficient detail available based on the level of detail/specificity in the linked OUE.
- Need to provide details as to when the actual service will be provided including frequency & not just period of performance (i.e., Requested Service dates & times.)
- The additional scope details must be in the “Description of Requirements” on the RWA.
- F-Types can be used where such detail is not available (as needed ad hoc services for example)
- RWA Policy is being changed to permit the use of F-type RWAs for overtime utilities. In the interim, an RWA Policy Deviation will be required for PBS to accept an F-type RWAs for overtime utilities prior to RWA acceptance.
- N-Types should be used when there is sufficient detail available based on the level of detail/specificity in the linked OUE.
- What is the difference between a non-recurring RWA and a recurring RWA?
Non-recurring RWAs provide services where costs can be specifically identified and separated from standard operating costs. They come with a separate invoice for the above-standard service. These typically include above-standard service requests in leased space where the lessor bills for the services on a regular basis at an established rate, as outlined in the lease. For example: $1,200 for 10 hours of OTU, $10/hour, 1 Saturday/month
Recurring RWAs provide services to customer agencies where the costs of those services cannot be readily identified or separated from standard operating costs. There was no separate invoice for the above-standard service. For example: Overtime Utilities (OUs) in GSA owned space where the service is not separately metered or billed, or both.
Bona Fide Need
- What qualifies as a bona fide need for an “above standard services” request?
An occupant agency, in accordance with the Bona Fide Needs Statute (31 U.S.C. § 1502) and the Recording Statute (31 U.S.C. § 1501), cannot record an obligation for an RWA agreement for non recurring severable services without the level of specificity necessary to award a contract, issue a lease amendment, or otherwise provide the requested severable service. The level of specificity required includes the following:
- a description of the specific service to be provided and
- when the service will be provided (this could include a defined cadence, actual days, hours, or times the service is to be rendered depending on the service that is to be provided).
- A “defined cadence” is when an agency requests above standard services in a regular repeated sequence such as, “Every other Saturday, 8 hours a day, beginning 10/1/23 and ending 9/30/23”.
- Why can I no longer provide an estimated number of hours over a specific period of performance to cover my above standard service needs for next fiscal year?
GSA cannot accept RWAs for reimbursable overtime utility services based solely on estimated hours (other than F-type RWAs) because there is no specific request or legitimate bona fide need; instead, all that exists is a customer agency’s tentative belief as to what it may need. If the RWA does not specify a date and time for such services, it does not satisfy the requirements of the Recording Statute or Bona Fide Needs Statute and customers cannot record valid obligations for approximate services.
- What do I do if I have a last minute, one-off request?
Contact your GSA Lease Administration Manager (LAM), as soon as possible. In the event these types of needs are common occurrences with your organization there are options for to provide an F-Type RWA for these last minute one-off needs so that funds are readily available.