Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Section I. General
1. What is GSA Reverse Auctions?
GSA Reverse Auctions is an efficient and cost effective Platform for buying non-complex commodities and simple services. Designed to drive down the total cost of acquisitions and increase savings to customers and taxpayers. GSA Reverse Auction is an eTool and can be used to facilitate the request for and submission of quotes, offers or proposals for products, services, and solutions through GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) and Open Market (non-scheduled) acquisitions.
2. Does GSA Reverse Auctions charge fees?
GSA will not charge any additional fees for products or services purchased on GSA Reverse Auction Platform against GSA Schedule Contracts, VA Schedule Contracts, Federal Strategic Sourcing BPAs, National IT Commodity BPAs or Agencies BPAs against GSA Schedules Contract Vehicles. GSA will charge fees for all Open Market transactions beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2016.
GSA and VA Multiple Award Schedules and other contract vehicles utilizing these Schedule Contract
There are no additional fees for the use of the GSA Reverse Auction Platform to either the Customer Agency/buyer or Vendor when conducting auctions against GSA Multiple Award Schedule BPAs and other GSA contract vehicles utilizing GSA Schedules.
Open Market - The open market feature on the Platform refers to the use of the Platform to conduct a reverse auction for good or services using a contract vehicle other than those pre-existing contract vehicles loaded on the Platform.
Note - this definition of Open Market is distinguishable from and broader than the explanation of the term "open market" at FAR Subpart 8.402. The FAR provisions regarding open market items (items not on MAS) apply to auctions on the Platform no different than they do to traditional MAS orders.
Note: Open Market Item - See FAR Subpart 8.402 for further information.
3. Why should I use GSA Reverse Auctions?
GSA Reverse Auctions is an efficient and cost-effective process for buying non-complex commodities and simple services that streamlines the procurement cycle time, drives down the total cost of acquisitions, increases savings to customers and taxpayers, complies with security and acquisition requirements, provides spend data and historical pricing, and interfaces with existing Government procurement systems including GSA eBuy, GSA e-Library, and FedBizOpps (FBO).
4. What are the benefits of GSA Reverse Auctions?
Buyers Benefits include:
- Real-time pricing
- Provides customers with level 3 spend data
- Interfaces with existing systems, i.e., eBuy and DUNS number for authentication, eLibrary for vendor information updates, and FedBizOpps (FBO) for FAR Part 5 advertising and posting requirement.
- Assists meeting small business goals and facilitates compliance with competition requirements
- Attach customized documents
- Real time pricing: Vendors are aware of where they stand in auction process. Bidders' identities are not visible to other sellers/bidders in a reverse auction.
- Prices driven by competition
- Web based program – allows all qualified vendors to participate depending on vehicle chosen by Buyer Access to all RFQ/RFPs placed under categories for which you hold contracts
- Receive email notices of RFQ/RFP opportunities
5. How do I access/login or register into GSA Reverse Auction?
GSA and VA Schedule Vendors that are registered in eBuy are automatically registered in the GSA Reverse Auction Platform.
For Vendors with Agency specific BPAs or other Multiple Award Contracts (MAC) the awarding Agency has provided GSA with your point of contact registration and your associated contract has been linked with your company account for the specific BPA or Multiple Award Contract.
Open Market Registration for Vendors
Vendors that intend to respond to Open Market auctions must first register in the System for Award Management (SAM) (SAM.gov) in order to gain access to the Platform. From there, you will utilize your DUNS number as registered in SAM to register a user account in the Reverse Auction Platform. When registering with the Platform, vendors will be able to and are encouraged to input all of their applicable NAICS codes.
Vendor organizations may have multiple user accounts registered on the Platform and associated with the vendor and the vendor's DUNS number.
Vendors that desire to bid on Open Market auctions must follow this Platform registration process; a vendor's pre-existing eBuy registration is insufficient to participate in Open Market auctions.
6. If I need assistance or technical support who do I contact?
For general ReverseAuctions.gsa.gov support questions, including assistance with username and password, please send an email to: email@example.com or call 1-855-372-1094.
For questions about the GSA Reverse Auctions program, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all questions regarding an auction or auction line item, please contact the Buyers listed on the auction or line item description page.
7. How long does a reverse auction last?
The time parameter is established by the buyer. Check with agency procedures to ensure the solicitation meets FAR requirements for posting. The best results (competition) have been achieved on auctions that last between five and seven days.
8. Does a buyer have the ability to amend aspects of his/her auction (such as quantities solicited) after an auction has started?
Yes. Buyers have the ability to amend auctions via the amendment features in the Reverse Auction Platform.
9. Is a Buyer required to issue an award if the Buyer doesn't like the Reverse Auction results?
Buyers have the ability to cancel an auction at any time before the auction closes or to make the decision to not make any award after the auction closes with proper justification in accordance with the terms and conditions of the solicitation and all applicable regulations.
10. Can a Buyer make an award either single or multiple through GSA Reverse Auctions?
Yes. Buyers must make the actual awards in their agency contract writing system first and then log back into the Reverse Auction Platform to hit the award notification button to notify the bidders of the award.
See also FAQ #25 below.
11. Is Vendor performance reported?
Buyers are responsible for reporting vendor performance through CPARS for actions above $150K.
12. How does a Buyer report vendor performance?
Vendor performance will be reported as a Buyer would with any other solicitation and through those venues (i.e. CPARs), not GSA Reverse Auctions at this time.
13. Can a Buyer accept offline bids?
Bids received through media other than the Platform, including but not limited to e-mail, phone, or fax, for an active/open auction are considered offline bids. The buyer is prohibited from accepting offline bids outside of the Platform for an active/open auction. After the close of an auction, but prior to award, a buyer’s request to the proposed awardee for a price reduction or additional discount and a proposed awardee’s granting of a price reduction or additional discount (for example in accordance with FAR Subpart 8.405-4, Price Reductions) does not constitute offline bidding.
14. Can the agency/buyer and vendor obtain Level 3 data reports or Buyer Activity Report (BAR)?
Yes. These reports are available to Buyers in the reverse auctions system on the reporting tab:
- Level 3 Data Report (Closed Auctions): This report is a html web report that can also be downloaded as a CSV file that can be open in Microsoft Excel. The fields available on the report are: Auction ID, Alternate ID, Award Type, Award Date, Number of Bidders, Awarded Vendor Name, Awarded Vendor Business Size, Contract Number, SIN Selected, Line Item Number, Brand Name OR Brand Name or Equal, Buyer Manufacturer Name, Buyer Manufacturer Part Number, Buyer Product Description, Vendor Manufacturer Name, Vendor Proposed Part Number, SIN Subcategory Name, FSC, UNSPC, Unit Of issue, Quantity, Independent Government Estimate (IGE), Total Awarded Price, Calculated Unit Price, Savings from IGE , Buyer Name, Agency, Bureau, Org. Level 1, and Org. Level 2.
- Auction Abstract: The auction abstract is a web report that will contain all of the information about the auction, line items, bids and bid histories, Q&As, and attachments for a particular auction.
15. Will there be a future ability to build Agency specific clauses template and future ability to build buyer specific clause templates?
This option is expected to be a future feature enhancement to the Platform.
16. Will the winning Seller's name be displayed to other Bidders at auction close?
No. At the close of the auction, the Platform notifies the Seller with the apparent lowest bid at time of auction close; this notification does not constitute a contract/order award. The bidders that did not have the apparent lowest bid at the time of auction close will be able to see that they are were not the apparent lowest bidder and that they were outbid in the Seller's dashboard in the Platform.
17. Will the winning vendor name be displayed to other vendors at final award?
No. The Platform will provide email notification to the bidders that were not selected for award at the time that the Buyer utilizes the award feature in the Platform; this email notification does not disclose the name of the awardee.
18. Is GSA Reverse Auctions 508 compliant?
Yes, the GSA's Reverse Auction Platform is 508 compliant.
19. Can agencies use the Platform independently or will GSA manage the process?
The Reverse Auction Platform is a self service tool. Agency buyers that need assistance can contact the reverse auction helpdesk. For agency buyers that use the Platform themselves, buyer user guides, online help documentation and context sensitive help will be available to facilitate proper system use.
20. How does a Buyer know if its acquisitions are compliant?
The GSA's Reverse Auction Platform does not replace the responsibility of the Contracting Officer to meet FAR requirements and agency procedures. Features have been built into the GSA's Reverse Auction Platform that assists the Contracting Officer in meeting FAR compliance. For example, the requirement of fair opportunity can be met by use of the GSA's Reverse Auction Platform.
21. What contract vehicles are on the GSA Reverse Auction Platform?
For a current list of contract vehicles on the Reverse Auction Platform view the home page to see what's available.
22. Can the Buyer make an award in the Reverse Auction Platform?
Per the Platform Terms and Conditions:
"Platform users recognize and acknowledge the distinctions between a Buyer utilizing the "Award" feature in the Platform to notify bidders in contrast to the Buyer awarding a contract or order to an offeror.
Awards are made by Buyers in accordance with the terms of the solicitation and award process utilized by the Buyer. After an auction closes the Buyer takes into account the auction results in making the Buyer's award decision.
The "Award" feature in the Platform is a feature required to be utilized by Buyers when using the Platform to conduct an auction. The award feature in the Platform is a means by which a Buyer notifies the particular bidder(s) selected by the Buyer as the contract/order awardee as well as notifies the unsuccessful bidder(s) that are not being selected for award.
GSA's expectation is that the Buyer shall utilize the award feature in the Platform the same day that the Buyer makes contract/order award outside the Platform. Using the award feature in the Platform is critical for GSA to keep complete records regarding the outcome of auctions and to ensure complete data can be generated in reports for Buyer agencies (such as Level 3 reports).
23. What times are displayed in the Reverse Auction Platform?
All times displayed are Central Time Zone. It is strongly recommended that any documentation or attachments provided by either the Buyer or Seller refer to the Central Time.
Zone as appropriate to alleviate any confusion.
24. How are the prices quoted in the Reverse Auction Platform?
Buyers and Vendors should input the unit price for each line item. The system will automatically calculate the total.
25. As a Buyer, how do I improve my chances of getting more bidders on my auction?
Market research is the key to receiving sufficient competition in any solicitation. This holds true for GSA Reverse Auction. If the product is being solicited on GSA schedules, search GSA Advantage to determine if sufficient competition is available.
Buyers should ensure items have an adequate description that clearly defines the product or service being solicited. Include the manufacture and part number for commodities and or essential salient characteristics in the description.
Section II. FAQ for Acquisition Procedures
1. What happens if two vendors bid the same amount? Which one gets the award?
While it is viewed as unlikely to occur frequently, it is possible under the Platform for two sellers to bid the same amount and for the auction to reflect that at time of auction close. In the event that occurs, then it is up to the Buyer to follow the FAR and the terms and conditions of the solicitation. While FAR Part 14 does not apply to Federal Supply Schedule orders, it provides an example for equal low bids.
FAR 14.408-6 -- Equal Low Bids.
(a) Contracts shall be awarded in the following order of priority when two or more low bids are equal in all respects:
(1) Small business concerns that are also labor surplus area concerns.
(2) Other small business concerns.
(3) Other business concerns.
(b) If two or more bidders still remain equally eligible after application of paragraph (a) of this section, award shall be made by a drawing by lot limited to those bidders. If time permits, the bidders involved shall be given an opportunity to attend the drawing. The drawing shall be witnessed by at least three persons, and the contract file shall contain the names and addresses of the witnesses and the person supervising the drawing.
(c) When an award is to be made by using the priorities under this 14.408-6, the contracting officer shall include a written agreement in the contract that the contractor will perform, or cause to be performed, the contract in accordance with the circumstances justifying the priority used to break the tie or select bids for a drawing by lot.
2. What are the ordering procedures for using reverse auctions?
The GSA Reverse Auction Platform may be used in support of acquisitions utilizing various types of acquisition vehicles including, but not limited to, Multiple Award Schedules (MAS), Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA), Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC), Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts, and Open Market Acquisitions. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and any applicable agency supplemental regulations and policies provide the governing contracting/ordering procedures depending on, e.g., contract vehicle and contract type.
3. What is the purpose of GSA's Reverse Auction process?
The Reverse Auction process is used to solicit quotes for products and simple services. It allows buyers to obtain discounts off of established contract and/or commercial prices through real-time pricing and competition.
4. Can I specify brand-name requirements using Reverse Auctions?
Yes. However, if the auction requires items peculiar to one manufacturer (or brand name) the ordering activity must comply with all regulations or policies for restricting competition and applicable posting requirements.
5. Where do I post my brand name justification?
At a minimum, when a justification is required, it is recommended that the Buyer post their justification with their RFQ/Auction in the Platform. The Buyer should reference the FAR and any other Agency regulations, FAR supplements, or policies for additional posting requirements.
6. Does the GSA Reverse Auction process satisfy the requirements of FAR 8.405-1(d)(3)(ii) and FAR 8.405-2(c)(3)(iii)(B), to provide the RFQ to as many contractors as is practicable when exceeding the SAT?
Yes, when releasing an auction against the Multiple Award Schedules or a BPA awarded against Schedules.GSA Reverse Auctions empowers Buyers to satisfy those requirements by enabling a Buyer utilizing the Reverse Auction Platform to provide the RFQ, at the Buyer's discretion, to as many Schedule contractors as practicable or to all Schedule contractors.
7. I am a GSA Schedules contractor. Will discounting my prices to compete in the Reverse Auction process invoke the Price Reductions clause?
No. When discounting to Federal agencies, the Price Reductions clause is not invoked. See GSAM 552.238-75(d)(2).
8. How is Two-Step Procurement handled?
By selecting the Two Step Procurement checkbox you are using GSA's Reverse Auction Platform to invite vendors from an RFQ outside of GSA Reverse Auction Platform to participate in the price portion of the solicitation. When checked, bidding will be limited to only those vendors manually selected. This is similar to a pass/fail step on Technical Factors or down select process. If the Two Step Procurement checkbox is not selected, all vendors with a contract awarded against the selected GSA and VA Schedules and/or Agency GWAC or Multiple Award IDIQ Contracts may be provided the opportunity to participate.
9. How do I initiate or respond to an Open Market solicitation as either Buyer or Vendor?
For specifics on Open Market auctions please refer to the most recent version of the Platform Terms and Conditions and the Buyer and Vendor Guides.
10. Once an auction has closed can it be reopened? If it cannot be re-opened can it be cancelled?
A closed action should be treated as a closed solicitation. We recommend that another auction be issued in the same/similar fashion that one would handle a closed acquisition on E-buy or through FBO.
The auction can be cancelled before it is closed or coded as no-award.
If you are going to re-issue, we recommend that you copy the previous auction and make the appropriate changes for the new auction.
11. Open Market Summary: For Open Market auctions, a summary of the auction will be posted to the FedBizOpps (https://www.fbo.gov) web site for open market vendors to search/view business opportunities.
The summary generated by the Platform and posted to FBO is not a substitute for and is not intended to ensure Buyer compliance with FAR Subpart 5.2, Synopses of Proposed Contract Actions. The summary generated by the Platform is merely a courtesy function provided by the Platform.