What is VPP?
To sell products on the GSA Schedule Contract that are manufactured by another company, you have to show GSA you are authorized to sell those products and you have an uninterrupted source of supply. Traditionally, this meant your company would need to collect Letter of Supply documentation from the manufacturer to provide to GSA.
The Verified Products Portal (VPP), which was launched in May of 2021, offers an alternative to the Letter of Supply requirement. VPP is an online platform that allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their wholesalers to provide GSA with information on their products and approval on who is authorized to sell those products. Instead of the reseller contacting the manufacturer for information and then passing it along to GSA, VPP allows the manufacturer to provide the info directly to GSA.
When a manufacturer chooses to participate in VPP, GSA uses the information provided to:
- Verify GSA contractors authorized to sell the manufacturer’s products
- Supplement the information on the product’s GSA Advantage listing
GSA publicly announced their plans for the Verified Products Portal in 2020, and the platform officially launched in May of 2021. Since then, GSA has connected VPP to GSA Advantage, which allows them to supplement Advantage listings with additional product information and images provided by the manufacturer. Last month, GSA implemented stock disruption indicators on Advantage. This allows manufacturers and wholesalers to flag products with: Limited Stock, Out of Stock, End of Life, or Discontinued.
Verified Products Portal Key Highlights
- VPP is not required, if your manufacturer/wholesaler is not participating, you can still provide Letter of Supply documentation.
- If a manufacturer participates in VPP, the data they provide through the portal is the authoritative source and will override any Letter of Supply documentation you provide to GSA.
- Within VPP, manufacturers authorize suppliers at the line item level. This allows GSA to reject the addition of products that are unauthorized and to issue robomods to delete unauthorized products on the GSA Schedule.
- Wholesalers can also provide authorization details in VPP, however any information provided by the manufacturer will take precedence and GSA will not use wholesaler information to remove unauthorized products.
- While GSA resellers can view the publicly available dashboard, only manufacturers and wholesalers can register for access to the VPP portal.
- VPP is currently intended for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products, however GSA may expand the scope in the future.
Verified Products Portal Dashboard
Only GSA, manufacturers, and wholesalers have access to the Verified Products Portal. However, GSA created the Verified Products Portal Participation Dashboard for the public that allows you to view manufacturers participating in VPP and the number of suppliers they have authorized. The VPP dashboard does not detail which suppliers are authorized.
The number of manufacturers on GSA’s Verified Products Portal has been picking up since the portal’s launch last year. There are currently just under 350,000 products listed by approximately 50 manufacturers and more than 1,000 are wholesalers. It’s worth noting, Hewlett Packard Enterprise currently accounts for more than half of the products on VPP.
VPP by the Numbers as of February 2022
- # of Products Listed: 348,186
- # of Authorized Suppliers: 741
GSA stated in a recent webinar they’ve seen a lot of interest in setting up onboarding sessions, so watch for these numbers to rise over the next year. View the Verified Products Portal Participation Dashboard for yourself at https://d2d.gsa.gov/report/verified-products-portal-participation-dashboard-public.
Benefits & Challenges of VPP
❯ For Manufacturers
VPP offers clear benefits to manufacturers and government buyers. VPP allows manufacturers to: provide standardized catalog data, supplement product content, and easily control who is authorized to sell their products. VPP also eliminates the need for manufacturers to seek out unauthorized resellers and issue Cease and Desist Letters. Any companies not authorized to sell a product will be prevented from adding the product to their GSA Schedule moving forward, and any unauthorized products currently sold on Schedule will be removed through a robomod process. You can review GSA’s fact sheet for Manufacturers and Wholesalers here.
❯ For Government Buyer
For government buyers, the Verified Products Portal helps address complaints regarding fulfillment issues, the quality of product descriptions on GSA Advantage, and the lack of product images. VPP also reduces the risk of government buyers receiving refurbished or counterfeit products.
❯ For GSA Resellers
In theory, VPP should benefit GSA resellers by removing the Letter of Supply documentation requirements. Josh Royko of GSA explained that VPP can also help with pricing negotiations by ensuring the baseline pricing for products on Schedule is legitimate and not skewed by unauthorized sellers.
In practice, the Verified Products Portal has presented some challenges for GSA contractors that have established Letter of Supply agreements. Elizabeth Wright, an Executive Contracts Manager at FEDSched explained, “If there are discrepancies between a contractor’s Letter of Supply and what a manufacturer uploads to VPP, the contractor will be notified of those discrepancies and have the opportunity to dispute the findings. The number of manufacturers that join the program, and how changes and data continue to be verified will determine how impactful VPP will be to the future of GSA Contract resellers.”
How Does VPP Impact GSA Resellers?
The Verified Products Portal has no impact on GSA resellers whose manufacturers are not on VPP. If your manufacturer/wholesaler is not on VPP, then it is business as usual. You will continue to provide the GSA required Letter of Supply documentation when applicable.
If a manufacturer participates in VPP, it can impact resellers looking to add those products to the GSA Schedule. When a company submits a new offer or a product addition modification, GSA Contracting Officers have the ability use pricing tools to flag any items your company is not authorized to sell according to the Verified Products Portal.
If your company currently sells products under your GSA Contract from a manufacturer that participates in VPP and has authorized you to sell those products, GSA will supplement your GSA Advantage listings with any information provided by the manufacturer. If your company currently sells products under your GSA Contract from a manufacturer that participates in VPP and has not authorized you to sell those products, you will ultimately be notified during the unauthorized supplier robomods, which GSA plans to run a few times a year.
If you are a GSA reseller, our contracts team recommends you check the VPP dashboard on a regular basis to see if any of your manufacturers have registered on the portal. GSA’s Common Catalog platform, which is in the works for the future, will allow GSA contractors to view who has authorized them. Unfortunately, the Common Catalog is one to two years away from completion. In the meantime, you can email CM-Data-Team@gsa.gov to find out if a VPP participating manufacturer has authorized your company.
Unauthorized Supplier Robomods
GSA recently held a webinar to explain the new unauthorized supplier robomod process that kicked off last month. This new robomod is a pilot that runs products on Advantage against those in VPP and flags any products that are not authorized to be sold by specific GSA contractors. These contractors then receive an email notification and have 30 days to dispute the accuracy of any flagged products. GSA will then review any disputes with the manufacturer.
If a GSA Contractor is not successful in disputing the unauthorized flag, GSA will issue a modification to delete the unauthorized product(s). The initial unauthorized supplier robomod process only targeted companies with the highest number of unauthorized products.
Josh Royko of GSA reiterated that manufacturers are directly providing information on which suppliers are authorized to sell products on the product level within VPP. Royko explained GSA is initiating the unauthorized supplier robomod process based on their high level of confidence in the information provided through VPP. Royko also clarified that while wholesalers can provide authorization through the portal, GSA will never initiate an unauthorized supplier robomod deletion based on wholesaler information.
What happens if you have products removed during the unauthorized supplier Robomod process? Ideally, any mistakes will be successfully resolved during the dispute process. However, if that is not the case, there is not much you can do until the manufacturer authorizes you to sell those products within VPP. At that time, you can submit a modification to add the products back to your GSA Contract.
How Can Manufacturers and Wholesalers Signup for VPP?
If you are a manufacturer or wholesale supplier interested in signing up for VPP, you can email GSA at VPP@gsa.gov to establish an account and schedule an onboarding session. Once your account is setup, you can login to the portal to provide supplier authorizations and product data by uploading a CSV file or connecting through an API.
What Information Do Manufacturers and Wholesalers Provide Through VPP?
- Supplier Authorization Details—authorized resellers, product lines, and Doing Business As (DBA)
- Product Category Details—product brand name and manufacturer part number (MPN)
- Product Descriptions/Images—remanufacture status, product images and features
- Supply Chain Attributes—Country of Origin (COO) and EnergyStar Labels
- Pricing Information (optional)—threshold for which the authenticity of the item is questionable and date of upcoming price increases
Looking Ahead – Future Plans for the Verified Products Portal
GSA is working on another major project, the Common Catalog Platform (CCP), that will eventually tie in with VPP. When GSA launches the Common Catalog, they plan to allow contractors to import products from VPP and push out notifications to alert contractors of price increases or product additions. GSA’s Josh Royko explained GSA is building towards a seamless experience for contractors. Connecting VPP and the Common Catalog will be a major step towards achieving that seamless experience.
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