Understanding Your GSA Contract Number – What is it?

What is a GSA number?

Doing anything in today’s world requires an identification number. Any time you travel abroad, you must know your passport number. When paying your tax returns, you’ll need your social security number. And insuring your vehicle is impossible without a driver's license number.

Check if you Qualify to be a GSA Contractor

Doing business with GSA is no different; when approaching a potential federal client, the first thing they will ask is ‘what is your GSA Schedule number?’ Every business that receives a GSA contract has a Schedule number, identifying it in the database of approved vendors. Government agencies tend to prefer doing business with approved GSA contractors, who have been specifically selected by GSA for their expertise and great track record. Of course, there are also benefits for the vendors themselves – read more about them below. 

At a first glance, government contract numbers might seem like an incomprehensible jumble of numbers and letters. However, they’re actually a code containing multiple elements that show the awarding organization, the year of contract award, the type of contract, and more.

Keep reading to learn more about the government contract numbering system and find out how to do a GSA contract number lookup.

How to read a government contract number

First, we will explain the different elements encoded in the government contracts number format. 

  • The contract numbering system pre-fiscal year 2018

Your contract number depends on the year it was awarded. Before the fiscal year 2018, all GSA numbers had the following format: GS**F*****. They consisted of 10 characters that hold the following information:

  1. Agency
  2. Regional Code
  3. Service/Office Code
  4. Contract Number
  5. Fiscal Year Awarded

The format changed slightly in 2012, but generally remained the same. For example, a contract awarded prior to 2012 could be GS12F1234Y (4 numbers and 1 letter at the end); and from 2013 onwards – GS12F123AA (3 numbers and two letters at the end). Contracts of this type still exist today.

  • The government contract format from 2018 onwards

In FY 2018, the government contract numbering format was changed in response to FAR’s new rules and standardization. A GSA number today includes 13 characters, for example 47QTCA20A5678. It contains the following elements:

  1. Activity Address Code 

The first 6 characters of the new government contract number format identify the Funding Agency, Awarding Organization, and Organization Office. 

  1. Fiscal Year awarded 

e.g., 19, 20, 21…

  1. Type of “Instrument” 

A letter which identifies the “instrument” aka the contract type. For example, A (BPA), P (Purchase Order), D (IDIQ), Q (RFQ), R (RFP)…

  1. Unique contract award number

The final 4 characters of the GSA number.

How to get a GSA number

It takes on average 120 days to get a GSA Schedule number, but in some Large Categories it can take longer. This is the case for Information Technology and Professional Services, where the GSA contracts are particularly lucrative and the volume of applications is much higher.

How to search for the GSA contract number of a business

You can do a GSA contractor search through gsaelibrary.gsa.gov.  Simply search the name of a particular business or click through the Large Categories and subcategories. Under each subcategory a list of vendors is displayed, along with their catalog, business information and contract number. It is also possible to search by the number. With a GSA Schedule lookup you can find examples of Schedules in the pre- and post-2018 contract number format.

Getting a GSA contract

Thousands of businesses are on the GSA Schedule, as it can offer fantastic and long-term benefits: 5-year extendable contracts, reduced red tape and administration, a vast pool of customers and access to exclusive government tools, like GSA eBuy and e-Library, among many others.

If you are interested in getting on the GSA Schedule, Price Reporter government contracting experts can guide you through the process, including understanding your government contract numbering. Contact us today and get a free consultation

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