GSA eBuy – RFQs for GSA Contractors’ Eyes Only
One of the benefits of holding a GSA Schedule Contract is that you have access to GSA eBuy, an online Request for Quote (RFQ) system. If your company is considering a GSA Schedule Contract, it can be difficult to conduct a tangible assessment of missed opportunities. You may read about some high-profile contracts going through the GSA Schedule – like the FBI’s $5 billion ITSSS recompete moving to GSA IT Schedule 70. However, it’s difficult to truly assess opportunities you’ve missed because agencies are not required to publicly post GSA Schedule bids. Agencies that purchase through the GSA Schedule can bypass an FBO posting and, depending on the order, survey existing GSA Schedule Contractors or post an RFQ on eBuy.
If you were hoping to go to the eBuy website and view all RFQs posted there, you’d be out of luck. Access to GSA eBuy is limited to government agencies and companies that hold a GSA Schedule Contract. Even GSA Schedule contractors have a limited view of eBuy. When an agency posts an RFQ to eBuy, they select the GSA Schedule and Special Item Number(s) (SINs) that apply to the RFQ. The RFQ is then visible to all companies that hold that specific GSA Schedule and SIN(s).
eBuy Open GSA First Pilot
In October of 2018, GSA announced the launch of the eBuy Open GSA First Pilot. The goal of the pilot is to determine if transparency will increase interest and usage of the GSA Schedules, without negatively impacting the program. During the one-year pilot, GSA funded procurements awarded through eBuy by the contracting offices listed below will be publicly posted.
- GSA Office of Internal Acquisition
- FAS Region 7 Southwest Supply and Acquisition Center
We are approximately seven months into the one-year pilot program. To date, there are only 33 eBuy Pilot Award Notices – you can view them here. While limited in quantity, the award notices have a combined dollar amount of more than $70 million and cover a wide range of products and services.
After reviewing the impact of the eBuy Pilot, GSA will determine if they will expand the public’s ability to view eBuy opportunities by the first quarter of 2020.
How the MAS Consolidation will Impact eBuy
On October 1, 2019, GSA will close the 24 GSA Schedules to new offers and release a new single GSA Schedule. This MAS Consolidation involves restructuring the GSA Schedule into a category, subcategory, SIN hierarchy. In July of 2020, GSA will release updates to eBuy to conform with the new MAS Consolidation structure. This will include removing the SIN level from eBuy and allowing agencies to issue RFQs under a category or subcategory.
Over the years, GSA has received feedback from buyers and contractors on the difficulties of using eBuy. Government buyers can find it challenging to identify the appropriate SIN for their RFQs. GSA Schedule contractors can find themselves unable to bid on RFQs that are miscategorized under SINs they don’t hold.
The July 2020 changes to eBuy should help address eBuy’s usability concerns. Instead of selecting from 900 different SIN options, agencies will choose from a limited number of broadly defined categories or subcategories. Agencies will have a clear path to select from more intuitive categories. As a result, contractors will be less likely to miss opportunities because of a miscategorization.