GSA eBuy is a simple yet extremely efficient federal procurement tool that literally thousands of federal agencies across the USA and worldwide use to buy various goods and order services for best prices.
This article explains how the GSA eBuy system works. Reading this helps you better plan your federal contracting efforts, better understand how the system looks from inside and hence have a chance to secure the best governmental contracts in your niche.
What is GSA eBuy system?
The eBuy system is a federal marketplace where buyers – various governmental, state or local agencies – can leave time-limited requests for proposals (RFP) or for quotes (RFQ) to motivate sellers (commercial organizations and firms) to respond with their competitive offers. In order to guarantee the best prices for the government, eBuy displays all quotes submitted by vendors to the agency that opened the initial request, and allows it to choose from all offers.
The marketplace can be found at ebuy.gsa.gov.
What is the difference between GSA eBuy and GSA Advantage!
GSA eBuy along with GSA Advantage! are the main platforms where federal, state or municipal entities can purchase specific goods or order services from businesses under certain GSA Schedules. Both GSA Advantage! and eBuy are for that purpose, but there’s a difference.
Smaller requirements that go below the micro-purchase threshold are placed at GSA Advantage!, while eBuy is mostly for larger government contracts.
What are requirements to sell at eBuy
First and most importantly, you must hold a GSA Schedule. This in turn means that you must first apply for a schedule and win an award before you can even try to undertake eBuy government contracts. You can learn how to become a GSA Schedule contractor here.
Then, you need to register your contract with the Vendor Support Center (VSC). This will allow you to submit your catalog to GSA Advantage!. And whenever you have submitted a MAS catalog to GSA Advantage!, you are eligible to answer to certain RFQ under your specific Schedule and SIN and post your eBuy quotations. You do not need an explicit GSA eBuy registration for that.
How GSA eBuy marketplace works
Federal buyer’s point of view
Buyers at GSA eBuy are numerous nationwide, statewide and municipal agencies seeking to satisfy their needs in services and to purchase goods for the best value. eBuy is the only way for such agencies to get what they want as they are not allowed to purchase from businesses directly.
The system works as follows. Whenever a federal buyer wants to purchase some product or service, they post a Request for Quote (RFQ) or a Request for Proposal (RFP) at eBuy in the given SIN category. eBuy offer a number of ways to refine the galore of specific categories to ones the buyer needs including search for specific Schedules, SINs, or manufacturers, and browsing the category hierarchy directly.
When buyers plan solicitation, they can also filter vendors by their socio-economic status to find contractors qualifying for 8a, WOSB or HUBZone programs.
Seller’s point of view
Sellers or GSA contractors are companies, businesses and private firms offering their products and services to governmental agencies via the GSA eBuy platform. This includes you as soon as you win your first GSA Schedule award. In fact, this is the only way to sell to the federal entities.
After you login at ebuy.gsa.gov using your contract number you can see all RFQ submitted by federal buyers that match your Schedule and SINs. Other requests that do not fall into the scope of your Schedule will not be visible to you.
Sometimes the list of available requests to respond is rather long, so the eBuy open market offers tools to help you quickly see for specific RFQ or to narrow the list down to specific industries or agencies only.
Once you find the interesting RFQ or RFP you can review its terms, conditions and statements. If you feel that you can undertake such a contract, you can submit a quotation. If you cannot offer a quote right now or don’t want to for some reason, there is a way to say “no”. You will need to explain your reasons, though.
If you chose to offer a quote, you will need to provide all necessary information about the quote including: items you sell, discounts, delivery conditions, the expiry date of your offer (minimum of 7 days from the RFQ close date is required).
Overall GSA eBuy solicitation process
So, here is how the entire procurement process looks.
- A buyer (some federal agency or entity) submits a Request for Quotation or a Request for Proposal. Alternatively, as long as it comes to micro-purchases the buyer can contact up to three sellers directly. Each RFQ is required to remain open for 2 days minimum, and 5 days by default. However, the buyer may set any other duration of the RFQ depending on competition among contractors, the specific Schedule and other factors.
- As soon as the RFQ is published, the eBuy platform automatically notifies all eligible sellers by e-mail. So whenever the submitted RFQ matches your GSA Schedule, you should receive a notification. However, it is also worth checking the eBuy online market manually to as many competitive RFQ are time-sensitive.
- Sellers whose Schedule and SIN cover the submitted RFQ/RFP can respond as long as the RFQ is open (usually within 5 days).
- Once the RFQ closes, the buyer reviews all received quotations and select the one to award the contract to. All sellers (both awarded and not awarded) are notified about the result of the RFQ.