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Transcript: FSSI OS3

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John Andre (JA): Hello, thank you for joining today's Acquisition Seminar hosted by the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI). Today's seminar, entitled "The Next Generation of GSA's Federal Strategic Sourcing Solution for Office Supplies," presents a look at the U.S. General Services Administration's Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for Office Supplies Third Generation solution, or OS3. Office supplies are not exactly what you think of when discussing big ticket procurements. But from 2010 to 2014, over $866 million was spent through the U.S. General Services Administration's (GSA) Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for Office Supplies Second Generation, or OS2. That included more than $370 million in direct and indirect savings, meaning that without OS2, those office supply purchases would have been well over $1 billion. Now comes the next generation of office supply strategic sourcing. GSA's OS3 solution provides customers with the ability to cut costs and increase efficiencies through buying everyday supplies like pens, paper and printing items from a list of vendors with pre-negotiated low prices. OS3 builds on the success of the OS2 solution which generated not only massive savings but achieved a small business utilization rate of over 75 percent. OS3 is expected to deliver even more savings, with prices 17.6 percent lower on average, as well as increased small business opportunities with an estimate of more than nine in every $10 spent going to small business. This seminar will show you how to order supplies through the OS3 purchase channel and show you a live walk-through with GSA Advantage and DoD e-mall. Before we begin, let me remind you that we will hold a live question-and-answer session at the end of today's presentation. If you have a question about anything you may hear from the presenter, we encourage you to submit it at any time using the survey link to the right of the video screen. We will collect and review your questions during the presentation, take a short break, and then return to answer as many as we can. So let's join Robert Andersen, Strategic Communications and Video Specialist supporting the U.S. General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service, Northeast and Caribbean region, who will show you how to use the OS3 solution to your maximum benefit. 
Robert Andersen (RA): Hi everyone. My name is Robert Andersen and welcome to today's Federal Acquisition Institute Acquisition Seminar on the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for Office Supplies Third Generation. I am going to be walking you through today's Acquisition Seminar. So let's begin. First, let's go through today's agenda. We are going to start with a quick overview of the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for Office Supplies, and then run through the old program - FSSI OS2. We will look at successes and final metrics from that program. Then we will walk through OS3 pricing and discounts, some ordering procedures, how to buy FSSI OS3 products, additional information, contact info, and questions. So, let's talk about FSSI OS3. Twenty-one FSSI OS3 IDIQs, which stands for indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contracts, were awarded on August 8th and 11th, 2014. Since that time, near the end of 2014, an additional three contracts were awarded. FSSI OS3 is the same scope as OS2, but since OS3 is an IDIQ, it does not use schedule item numbers known as SINs, but instead uses contract line items. 23 of the 24 awards are to small businesses. Vendors are divided into four groups servicing the following categories: full catalog, paper, toner/ink, and full catalog with additional features including in-store and express delivery. The final catalog is reserved for the one large business on FSSI. The program leverages dynamic pricing and a tier discount structure which I will go through later in the seminar. OS3 offers competitive pricing across the entire office supply space. In addition, as we are trying to make ample opportunities for small business involvement, there are on-ramping opportunities for small businesses during specified open seasons to maintain competition.
Just for people unfamiliar with contracting, let's take a quick walkthrough of what the difference is between a BPA and an IDIQ. Once again, the previous office supply solution, known as OS2, was a BPA. The current solution, OS3, is an IDIQ. Basically a BPA is not a contract; it is a purchase order placed under an existing GSA contract. For example, the vendors on FSSI OS2 had to be existing multiple award schedule vendors. The contract existed under MAS 75. It was the base contract under which the OS2 terms and conditions existed. For OS3 we wanted to start from a clean slate. The IDIQ contract allows agencies to purchase from OS3 without the additional contractual layer of an MAS schedule. OS3 is simplified to just a standalone contract and a purchase order. The terms and conditions are already covered under the base contract. So let's take a look at the OS3 vendors. They are divided into four clins - clin 1, 2, 3 and 4. The full catalog is clin1, it is exclusively small businesses. Those are listed all the way to the left. Clin 2, second from the left, is paper only. It's got three small businesses. Clin 3 is toner only, with five small businesses. And clin 4 called "on the go." it is a full catalog and reserved for a large business. Let's take a quick walk through some FSSI OS3 goals. Similar to FSSI OS2, we want to achieve savings, and we have multiple ways of doing so, including a new tier discount structure, which i will go through shortly. We want to capture data. We want to enable achievement of socioeconomic goals. With this in mind, approximately 90 percent of government spend is projected to go to small businesses in OS3. We also want to track compliance with mandates, acts, and orders, conform with agency business practices, and be easy to use. Remember, one thing we really like to champion as far as OS3 is concerned is you have the ability to go on GSA Advantage, you have multiple purchasing channels, and we want to make it as easy for the Federal purchase cardholders as possible to order office supplies quickly, cheaply and efficiently. OS3 provides value to the customer. First in government savings. Total spend in FSSI OS2 was $866.2 million, with a cumulative savings average of 13.62 percent for a total of $115.4 million with an average savings rate of 16.5 percent in FY2013. It also enabled data collection. We were able to identify the top 1000 office supplies purchased by the Federal government and we leveraged our collective buying power for those items. What that means is we took a look at those items, we went to the vendors and talked to them about prices on the items and negotiated prices specifically on the items that we as a Federal government are most frequently using. We also, as I said, enabled agencies' socioeconomic goals, with over 75 percent of FSSI OS2 spend going to small businesses. Some additional FSSI OS2 final metrics -- some of these I have already gone through. You've got your savings through FSSI, your spend, your small business utilization rate, the AbilityOne utilization rate at 18.61 percent, and green item usage at 27.54 percent. One thing to keep in mind when we talk about green items, a lot of the office supplies you might buy may not be applicable to green items. You may look at 27.54 percent and say, "Could that be higher?" But the fact of the matter is, we have to look for office supplies that are green as often as possible but sometimes it is simply just not an option. Let's look at a chart of OS2 spend and savings since inception. One thing to keep in mind is that government spend on office supplies fluctuates. The bars represent your spend per year. The blue content being purely spend. Red is OS2 savings and the green triangles represent the OS2 savings rate, which you can see peak at the end of OS2 and we hope to improve on those percentages with OS3. Again, some of these numbers we have gone through. I just want to make sure we drive them home. Actual FSSI spend in FY2014 was $134.2 million in OS2 with an estimated savings of $30.9 million. Estimated savings rate in FY2014 was 18.73 percent. MAS savings were 40.1 percent. Small business percentage in FY2014 was 73.7. AbilityOne was 18.2 percent and green impact was 35.98 percent. Here is a breakdown of socioeconomic spend in FSSI OS2 since inception. In the green you have 19 percent is service disabled veteran-owned small businesses; 25 percent in blue is going to large businesses; and 56 percent is going to small businesses. Again, you can take the red and green together to represent all small businesses in FSSI. 
Alright, moving on from FSSI OS2, let's talk about the big game in town now -- FSSI OS3. OS3 discounts--we've got OS3 cumulative volume discount tiers--this is new to FSSI OS3. It calls for price variance reductions that are triggered based on contractors' cumulative OS3 volume. Basically, as the Federal government, the more we spend, the more we save. Price variance reductions are triggered per vendor at $10m, $25m, $50, $75 and $100 million tiers. What that means is every time we had that much spend with a particular vendor, they have to provide an additional discount on all orders placed through OS3. Once again, we are all best friends as far as savings is concerned in the Federal government. We all help each other save money by utilizing OS3. We also have OS3 delivery order size discounts. These are triggered starting at $300. It varies per vendor. Not all vendors offer these, but you can find information at and you can get the discount rates per vendor. But basically we are encouraging you to consolidate orders and save as discounts are triggered on individual orders starting at $300 for some vendors. Increased discounts start at $1000, $3000, $5000 and $10,000, -- depending on contractors like I said. Here are the delivery order tier discounts by vendor. You can see a small handful of vendors do offer discounts starting at $300. From $300-$999, you've got one percent discounts. Then from $1000 to $3000, you've got discounts up to two percent with some vendors. Then when you have orders over $3000 to $5000, you have savings up to seven percent, increasing to 10 and 16 percent for orders up to at least $10,000. If you look at the small right corner of this slide, you can get an idea of how these task order discounts trigger even more savings. For example, $1500 monthly order through the vendor Jacobs Gardener Supply, you can look at it monthly versus bimonthly ordering frequency. If you make that order monthly, you are talking about a task order discount of two percent. For a two-month total of $2940. With bi-monthly ordering you are talking about $3000 in orders at $3000. A two-month total order spend of $2790 for a total bimonthly order savings of $150. It is always helpful to consolidate your orders on FSSI OS3.
Another feature, which we have carried over from FSSI OS2, is the dynamic market pricing strategy. This uses purchasing data to ensure lower prices and customer savings and tightens the competitive range on vendor prices. Vendors must charge within 10 percent of the lowest price available for an item available on the OS3 contract. This helps guarantee that you get the lowest price on the items and the lowest price is easy to find when you are in GSA Advantage. Another thing we have noticed with dynamic pricing is it increases competition across the board because if a lower-priced vendor lowers the prices, it forces everyone to lower the price. A higher price vendor may notice that hey, this guy has a price almost 10 percent lower than me and they lower their price and then it's just a race to lower prices, which is very helpful. Let's talk about ordering your office supplies. The ordering procedure for orders at or below the micro purchase threshold of $3000 is as follows: attempt to distribute orders among multiple OS3 contractors, but keep in mind that there are order minimums. Order minimums are currently $100, but some vendors will accept lower minimums. Smaller orders may be placed with some vendors by contacting the vendors directly, but a small fee may be incurred. As part of the government's sustainable "green" mandate, place larger orders to reduce the number of deliveries and transactions. This goes back to the slide we were at before, delivery task discounts. We are trying to encourage the Federal government to make fewer orders as part of the green purchasing strategies. The less frequently we are making orders, the less shipments, the less fuel, and less packaging supplies. It's sustainable and it's savings across the board. So although we encourage you to distribute orders among multiple vendors, you also need to keep in mind those order minimums which as it says are currently $100, but some vendors are already lowering them to as low as $25. I will say a little bit more about minimums because it is a question i get constantly on my webinars. Customers are often frustrated. Say that someone works at a small office outside of Kansas City with 10 employees and tell me, "I cannot possibly hit vendor order minimums." The bottom line is we are trying to encourage you to make strategic purchases. Even for a very small office, there are vendors who offer a minimum order of $25, so if you plan accordingly you can hit the $25 minimum and are helping with government sustainable practices.
What if the office supply I want to buy from is not on OS3? This is another question i get a lot on my webinars. In general, the OS3 program includes a wide range of products, brands and part numbers, although not every brand or part number may be included on OS3. By purchasing office supplies through OS3, customers are able to ensure that they are meeting all relevant mandates and procurement regulations. This is a big factor for FSSI OS3. A lot of your purchase card homework has already been done for you. You do not need to worry about meeting TAA requirements or EO 13514. We are ensuring that when you purchase an item off of FSSI OS3, it already meets all relevant procurement regulations. So, when you can't find the item you are looking for on OS3, we recommend purchasing an item that is a close second to the office supply you're trying to buy. Another common question, "What if my order does not meet the minimum purchasing requirement?" Again, I kind of went through this a few slides back, but once again, the minimum purchasing amount is currently $100, depending on vendors. We recommend you pull together other purchases in your office using the park cart feature on GSA Advantage. It is good to develop a strategy to purchase more items less frequently, planning ahead so you are making larger purchases. Remember, order minimums result in added value, better prices and less shipment waste. That is the take away here. Let's talk about orders exceeding the micro-purchase threshold of $3000 and extending to $150,000. Orders exceeding this threshold must offer fair opportunity. Consider using GSA reverse auction and reference FAR Part 16.505b, which states that orders under multiple award contracts need to include fair opportunity. The Contracting Officer must provide each awardee a fair opportunity to be considered for each order exceeding $3000 issued under multiple delivery order contracts or multiple task order contracts except as provided for in paragraph b.2 of this section. I know this is a lot of FAR language and a lot to go through, but the bottom line is--consult the proper purchasing authority when you make orders over that $3000 threshold. Once again, the same essentially applies to orders over $150,000. You want to consult the FAR. You must provide fair opportunity, and you are encouraged to use GSA's e-buy. I do not know who will be ordering office supplies in excess of $5 million, but just in case, we want to cover our bases here. Again, fair opportunity is essential, use the e-buy system, or reverse auction and consult the FAR.
Let's talk a little bit about reverse auctions through GSA e-buy. With reverse auctions, office supply vendors compete one-on-one for agency business through Authorized ordering activity personnel submit a solicitation and then contractors under OS3 can submit bids that compete off of each other's submitted pricing. The big thing is you can go into GSA reverse auction, and make sure you select that you only want to solicit FSSI OS3. Then, these vendors will see you submitted a reverse auction and then they will bid for your business and try to get you the best price possible. Once again, this is encouraged for orders over $3000. An award can then be made to the lowest bidder if it meets the solicitation terms and conditions and is technically acceptable. Ordering activity personnel will need a valid GSA e-buy username and password to use this site and training for GSA reverse auctions specifically is available. I will also do a quick walkthrough of a GSA reverse auction later in the presentation. FSSI OS3 is also tax exempt. Purchases on behalf of the Federal government are exempt from most taxes. In accordance with FAR 52.212-4, taxes and the BPA price includes all applicable Federal, state and local taxes. For delivery or service issues, contact the National Customer Service Center, otherwise known as NCSC. The phone number is listed there 1-800-488-3111, or you can email the help desk at The big thing with OS3 is we want to keep track of customer issues and keep the customers happy and this is the most sure way of making sure that your issues with FSSI OS3 vendors or FSSI OS3 performance get back to us and create a track record. They document all comments, concerns or complaints, and then we have a track record. And we are working as best as we can to keep FSSI OS3 customers happy. Why order through GSA Advantage? First, we have a step-by-step ordering guide available, which I will be going through shortly. There are multiple ways to evaluate vendors, products and pricing. There are filters to limit results to green items, small business vendors, toner and AbilityOne products. We have quantity discount pricing, a park cart feature, which I will do a walk-through of, and varied shipping options. 
Ok, so we are going to walk through how to make your orders off of GSA Advantage. The first thing to do is bring up your internet browser and go to That will bring you to the GSA Advantage home screen, which looks like this. When you go to the top right you can see that it says login or register. If you do not yet have a registration, then click on register and follow those steps. You can select either Federal government or state and local government employees. I am assuming most of you will be Federal government employees. Click on that and follow the steps. Once you have a login name, or if you already have a login name, you want to click on the login on the top right. So once you click on login that brings you to this login page. You will want to enter your user id -- followed by your password. And click login. Now you are logged into GSA Advantage. As you can see at the center top it says "Welcome Robert Andersen." Let's take a quick look at the home page, because it is essential you search correctly for FSSI office supplies. One thing is when you search for office supplies, you are going to get results on GSA Advantage that are not just FSSI items. A lot of customers ask me about this; they are curious: "If you want us to use FSSI OS3, why are there other office supply solutions out there?" There are important things to keep in mind. There are certain agencies that might have restrictions, either if they are purchasing from overseas or other issues that they have to procure office supplies through other means. That is why there are multiple options in addition to FSSI. But if you are watching this, the chances are you want to get your office supplies through FSSI OS3. On the left side of the screen it says "products". You want to go down close to the bottom where it says "Office supplies and equipment - FSSI". You will want to click on that. That brings you to the FSSI page on GSA Advantage. Around the middle of the screen, you have the search bar that says "look for". You also have your four filtering options. You can filter by AbilityOne products, toner supplies, green products, and small business products. You can use multiple filters, small business and AbilityOne. You can use all of them, one, two, or three of them. For now I will not use any filters. Let's search for an item. A lot of people need paper, we will start with that. Type in "paper" and make sure it says in office supplies and equipment - FSSI, which it will say if you are on the FSSI page. Then click on "search". You have your search results. You can survey the items that have come up. The big thing here is to look for the blue rectangle that says FSSI. You've already used the search bar so all of our results should have that blue rectangle which they do. But if you're searching FSSI, you want to make sure to always look for that blue FSSI rectangle.
So let's look at certain ways to filter your search results. This drop down that says "sort by": you can sort by most relevant product name, part number, manufacturer name, price high to low and price low to high. The price low to high does seem attractive but there is something to keep in mind. You can get a lot of strange results if you filter by that. Remember, vendors are doing their own product descriptions, and as a result, you get various items under one description. So price low to high all of a sudden we've got tissue at one cent each, which may not be relevant to the type of paper you are looking for. So I always like to search by most relevant. Chances are you will get the item you are looking for first. So we've got copy paper. Let's click on that. That brings you to that item page. If you scroll down, you have got your item description, you have got information about the volume discounts. That "v" in the grey diamond lets you know there is a volume discount available for that item. Scroll down and you have got your multiple vendors listed who are offering that item. It says contractor name near the middle of the page. To the right of contractor it says "socioeconomic designation" with different letters to indicate different designations including small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, woman-owned small business and so on. Then you have a listing of the various prices for the items over to the left. And a big one, customers are always worried about over to the right it says "min" - that's the order minimum. Particular for that vendor. So you can see that some have $50 minimum, some have $100 - and some have as low as $25. If you know you are going to be spending over $100, you do not need to worry about the minimums below $100. If you need to make a small order, you may be drawn to a particular vendor whose offers order minimums at $25 or below. Another thing to keep in mind of course is that you can contact vendors directly and talk to them about waiving their minimum order fees. So you are going to want to select the vendor you want to order from. Then under quantity, put down how many of the item you want and click "add to cart". That brings you to your shopping cart. I have some notes here. The first alert says that the items for this particular vendor fall below the contract minimum order for that vendor of $100. So you will get an alert to let you know what the vendor minimum is. You will want to pay attention to that, so you know how much you have to spend in order to hit that order minimum. Also, you get an alert that lets you know that this vendor does offer order discounts for FSSI. Those are the delivery-tiered discounts i had mentioned earlier. Otherwise, you have your cart. Once again,  it's definitely valuable to add enough items to hit that order minimum. Now that you are in your cart, let's say you need to search for more items. I want to show you another quick way to make sure you are searching FSSI items. As I've said, you can start at the GSA Advantage homepage and click on "office supplies and equipment" listed under "products". Another option you have got, is you can use -- if you're in your cart -- and you see that search bar up top, you cannot just search. That will not just give you items that are exclusively FSSI items. But what you can do is go to where it says "products" and click on that and scroll down to where it says "Office supplies and equipment FSSI" and click on that. Now that will filter the search results exclusively by FSSI items.
So let's say along with paper, we need some pens. You can type "pens" in the search bar. Click go. You will get your search results. You want to look for the blue rectangle which says "FSSI." If you search using the FSSI search bar, all items will have that blue rectangle. You will select the item that you want. That brings you to the items page. Once again, you scroll down and have your vendors listed. They all have that blue FSSI rectangle. They've got the diamond to indicate it is a volume discount. You will want to select a particular vendor. Put in the quantity and click "add to cart". Once the items are added to the cart, you are back to the cart page. I will make one more order to make sure we hit that order minimum for this vendor so you can see how these alerts change once that happens. Going back to the FSSI search bar. Let's search for paper once again. This is a pretend purchase. Let's go survey once again, and pick the paper you need. Then once you are on the results page, select the vendor, add the quantity and click "add to cart". OK, now we are back at the shopping cart page. You can see now that we have exceeded the order minimum, the one alert that indicated we had not hit the order minimum is gone. At this point, we can complete the purchase by clicking check out. Here is where i want to take a quick detour and point out the "park cart" feature of GSA Advantage. Park cart is a great feature for purchase cardholders and purchasing officials at agencies because it helps to make your job a little easier. A few things you can do for park cart is if you are just purchasing supplies yourself, you can save the cart for later. Say today you are adding some items but know you will not hear about other items needed for your office for a few days. You can park the cart, essentially saving it and come back to it at a later date. We recommend you not park your cart for more than 15 days because vendor quantities can change and items can go out of stock. So you could park the cart for 20 days and go back to it to find none of those items are available any more. So try not to park your cart for more than 15 days. But it's a great feature for putting your items aside and coming back to them at a later time. Another thing you can do with the park cart feature is if I actually click on park cart, it will bring you to the park cart page. You have the ability to give your cart a name. I will call this one "FAI cart", since it is just a pretend purchase. You can give your cart a password, which is not necessary. A big thing to keep in mind is it is not necessarily a security issue when you are parking a cart. A lot of people worry, "If i park it and share it with people, are they going to be able to make the purchase?" Keep in mind that you are the purchase cardholder, so you are the one with the ability to make the purchase. A great thing about the park cart feature is not only can you save the cart for yourself, you can share the cart with other people in your office. Think of this as another way to save yourself some time. In the past maybe you had to go around the office or people had to come to you to let you know the office supplies they needed. Now you can create a cart, and actually share that cart with other people. They can access it and add items to that same cart and send it back to you. Then you have the ability to go through the cart, make sure all the items are things you want to order and then make the purchase. This is a great time-saving feature. Once again you do not have to worry about security because you are the purchasing authority. You are the purchasing official so you are the one who will be able to make the purchase. But you give your cart a name and a password. And you can park it and share it with people or save it for yourself for a later time. So i am going to park this cart and there it is in my list of parked carts from today. It is called "FAI cart". You will click on that when you want to open it up again. There it is.
Let's pretend it is another time. I have parked my cart for a few days or shared it with other people and i want to go back to it. It asks you to retrieve a parked cart. You are asked for a cart number and a cart password. You want to insert the cart number and the cart password if you have one and click on "retrieve". You should find it there. Then you have your parked cart information listed. That is where you can click "forward cart" to share with other people or "add to cart" to add those items to your cart. When you do that, there you are, back in your current shopping cart. Once you have gone through that park cart feature, if that is something that appeals to you, you will want to click on "checkout". The first thing that comes up on the checkout screen is shipping options. You can select standard delivery, which is included with FSSI OS3. That is part of the negotiation. Another thing to keep in mind when you are frustrated by order minimums, FSSI OS3 is a negotiation with vendors. Part of that negotiation includes standard delivery in the price of items. In order to get that standard delivery included on items, we had to negotiate with vendors who wanted the order minimums. So we tried to lower order minimums as much as possible, while holding onto the standard delivery option. So that is another thing to keep in mind, that although $100 or $25 minimum order may frustrate you, included in that order minimum is your standard delivery. You will click continue. You have your payment options. Select option of purchase card or AAC/DoDACC, and select "submit - continue", and you will get to the confirmation page -- and confirm your order. So here we have a little screen grab of what the final confirmation page looks like. You want to review your order and then select "process order".
Next, let's do a quick walkthrough of DoD e-mall. One thing to keep in mind is that FSSI OS3 vendors are not yet on DoD emall. It's a different process from GSA Advantage so we are still working on getting them on there. We hope to have them up on GSA Advantage very soon in the new year. With that in mind i am going to be walking you through DoD e-mall as it would have applied to FSSI OS2. If you are unfamiliar with it, i hope this quick walkthrough will give you an idea of how to make your office supply purchases on DoD e-mall as it applies to OS3 in the future. So if you have an account, you will want to click "Login to DoD e-mall" on the homepage. You access DoD e-mall online by going to You will want to read the DoD notice and consent banner and click "okay". You will go through your certificate authentication and click "submit". Then on the left side of the screen, you can filter DoD e-mall. You will want to click on that drop- down and make sure you select "Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative". Then below that, once again it will say; it will have supplier listed and say "Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for Office Supplies". Then when you search for an item, you enter certain keywords. And you will get your results. You select the item you want and the quantity. That brings you to the item page. Remember - the same as on GSA Advantage, on DoD e-mall the vendor order minimums apply. You will get a notice at the top of your screen stating you have not hit the order minimums. Make sure you hit those order minimums. And it will show your cart below that. Once you have hit the order minimum, it will have your current cart listed. It will have the subtotal for your items, and you will be able to make your purchase. That is a quick DoD walkthrough on how to select an item and make a purchase.
Now, let's take a quick walkthrough through GSA reverse auctions. As with e-mall, we are still working to get the vendors and IDIQs up on GSA reverse auction. So this is a walkthrough of reverse auction as it applies to FSSI OS2, but a similar [approach] should apply for OS3. Up at the top you will want to click on "buyer login". You will enter your user ID and password. And if you have a GSA e-buy account, it is the same information as you have for GSA e-buy. Then you will want to create an auction. You can do this by clicking on the "My Auctions" tab. On the left, you click "Create Auction", and in the middle of the screen you can see a list of auctions you have already created. So when you are creating an auction, you will get a drop-down menu where you can select BPA or MAS. Now FSSI OS3 will be included in that drop-down. Select the type of contract you are creating an auction for. Then it will have a list of the current available schedules and FSSI once again will be included there. You want to select FSSI OS3. You will enter the RFQ details and select "Save and Nnext". And just some quick terminology - RFQ stands for request for quote. That is what a reverse auction is -- you are requesting quotes on a purchase from vendors. Click "Save and Next". If entering just one line item, select "add new line item" and select a vendor. Then your line item has been created. If you are adding no additional line items, you can click "Next". If you are adding additional items, fill in additional fields and select "Save Line Item". Then you can select auction ID that is created. Then select line item and then select "View Vendors". If adding attachments, select "Save and Next". If not adding any attachments, click "Save and Finalize". To add attachments, you will click on "Select the document attachment" and then review and finalize your auction. On this page you have final review of the auction details. Then you will want to click "Finalize". At that point your auction has been finalized and sent out to vendors to bid on. And that auction you have just created will now show up under your dashboard and under your "My Auctions" tab. Don't forget, if you would like more information on GSA reverse auction, feel free to visit the GSA reverse auction page on GSA interact. Once again, that was a very quick walkthrough of reverse auctions so you can get more information on this page. You can find out about reverse auction training sessions. So if you are going to be making a lot of orders that are over that $3000 threshold, this is definitely a recommended visit. Otherwise, if you are making smaller purchases, this does not necessarily apply to you.
There are other purchasing channels available, some of which I've gone through. But you can also purchase from agency virtual stores. There are vendor websites. You can phone, fax or direct order straight from the vendors. There is OS3 pricing available for walk-in customers. So one thing we like to say is GSA Advantage is the simplest to use and the best for tracking agency spend. Another thing, if, say you have a vendor who happens to have a brick and mortar store down the street from your office, while you can walk into the office and make OS3 purchases, you need to ensure the items you are purchasing are FSSI OS3 items. Like I said we are going through the due diligence to make sure all the items on OS3 meet all procurement regulations. But everything in a brick-and-mortar store is not going to meet those regulations. Your best bet is to go on to GSA Advantage and make those purchases, or if you need something immediately, go on GSA Advantage first. Make sure the item you want to buy in the store is a GSA Advantage item, and then you can walk into a brick-and-mortar store. Keep in mind, when you buy FSSI OS3 items with your Federal purchase card, you will get FSSI OS3 pricing. This slide covers basically what i just went through -- you can order directly from OS3 vendors, but we do encourage you to use GSA Advantage. When you order directly from vendors, and they are FSSI OS3 items - you will get FSSI OS3 pricing. Additional information can be found at the following websites --, where you can get agency guidance documents, how-to videos which will be coming soon, and OS3 and agency performance reports. At, you can get a list of all OS3 vendors with information on those vendors. You can get GSA contact information and you can download an ordering guide and links to purchasing websites. At you can find your local GSA Customer Service Director who can possibly visit your agency and help walk you through the FSSI OS3 process in person. Thank you very much for attending today's training. Keep in mind, right here on the screen you can see our direct contact e-mail for the FSSI office supplies program. That is Feel free to contact us at anytime with any questions or concerns, and we will get back to you. Thank you very much.
JA: As always, an outstanding overview of a procurement vehicle that will help ensure that our funds go farther. We certainly hope you found today's seminar beneficial, as we are sure it gives us all a greater appreciation for what can be done to serve the American taxpayer. Stay tuned as we take a five-minute break. After, we will return with Robert Andersen to answer a few of your questions.
Moderator (M): Welcome back, everyone. We would like to thank you for staying with us over that short break and would like to thank Robert Andersen for giving us that incredibly helpful presentation on FSSI OS3. Robert is here still and will answer a few of your questions during the course of the presentation. We have been collecting all of the questions that you all have submitted. Robert has had a chance to review those over the short break we had. We will talk about some of those questions you all have. Robert, thank you again for the information you are able to provide. Before we get into questions I would like to remind our viewers that all of the materials that Robert presented will be available in the upcoming week or so. You can find those materials on and check them out. So Robert, let's jump into the questions that we have. Our first viewer wants to know what the return process is for DoD e-mall?
RA: Thanks for the intro and thanks for having me here. I just want to remind everyone that as of right now, the FSSI OS3 items are not yet up on the DoD e-mall. It is a different process than getting the items up on GSA Advantage, but we are in the middle of that process and hope to have all of the items up on DoD e-mall by the end of February. So please keep that in mind. As far as the return process, that is something i recommend you take up with, research the contact page on DoD e-mall, and also feel free to e-mail us at with any vendor issues you may have.
M: Great. Our next question is, "Why do vendors have a minimum purchase of $100 or more to purchase the products?"
RA: This is a great question and one that i get a lot. Minimum orders are definitely an issue for customers, especially customers in smaller offices. There are a couple of things going on here. First, there are 24 vendors in FSSI OS3. When we create a contract, it is a negotiation with vendors. Very small orders are very expensive for vendors to fill. What I mean by that is, especially by negotiating lower prices with us, they are essentially selling items close to cost when it comes to lower orders because shipping is included. So if we are talking about small orders of $10 or even $100, when they factor in shipping, it is a big loss to the vendor. As we negotiate lower prices, they would like to see higher orders so we would like to meet somewhere in the middle, like any negotiation. That is where we come to $100. But I want everyone to keep in mind that some vendors have already lowered their minimum to $25. So that minimum ranges from $100 to $25. Also, another thing is the Federal government is trying to encourage green purchasing. When you look at minimum orders, we are trying to encourage you to plan strategically and make larger orders less frequently so that you are reducing the amount of shipping supplies and reducing the amount of waste and financial waste -- costing less in shipping costs and transportation needs.
M: Our next viewer wants to know: "What if vendors do not have the items you are looking for and they only have the item as an open market buy item? Can you purchase the items, and, in addition, can new items be added to the contract if there is no close second?"
RA: These are two great questions. One thing to keep in mind about FSSI OS3 is when you purchase items off of FSSI OS3, you are ensuring that all items meet all Federal procurement regulations so if you cannot find an item on OS3, the reason might be because it does not meet procurement regulations. If you are a Federal agency and you are trying to stay compliant with Federal acquisition requirements, if you order off OS3 you are insuring you are sticking to those requirements. If you cannot find an item, it might be because it does not meet those requirements. With that in mind - as far as buying open market items - that is an agency-to-agency policy, and something you may want to take up with your supervisor. We always say look for a close second item because you know you are meeting procurement regulations on OS3, but if you cannot find something that is a close second, then you may want to take it a level up to your supervisor and find out what your agency policy is in regard to open market items. Also, if you are a frequent buyer of a certain item that you cannot find on OS3, that is when you should let us know at and we will look to add items to the contract. You can also contact vendors to let them know that you need a certain item and they can probably work with you.
M: That is really helpful. Our next viewer wants to know if Amazon is on the FSS OS3 contract?
RA: Amazon is not on FSSI OS3. I did go through a list of vendors in the webcast and when these materials are viewable at a later date, you can see that list again. Also, the materials will be sent out, so if you were in attendance today, you will have a list of vendors. You can also go to and you will see a list of vendors.
M: Okay, I think our next question kind of piggybacks off of that...our next viewer says, "I have received a list of vendors on OS3. Are there any more vendors listed under their umbrellas?"
RA: This is the first time I've heard the term "umbrella," but I think what you are referring to is "consortiums." FSSI OS3 does have two vendors with consortium agreements with 58 and 188 vendors respectively -- don't quote me on those numbers, but I know I am in the ballpark. I know one consortium is in the 50s, and one is around 188. These are called APD's, or Authorized Participating Dealerships. Those are in process and will be incorporated into the contract via a modification. As far as your term, umbrella, there are more vendors that are included on the contract through these consortiums.
M: Let's go to our next question then. A viewer has asked, "Is it possible to go to a vendor website directly and purchase the same item for less cost than on the office supply schedule? Are we obligated to purchase at the lowest cost?"
RA: So when you're referring to purchasing at the lowest cost, I want to take you back to what I said earlier about ensuring that you are meeting Federal procurement regulations. With FSSI OS3 we've done the homework for you and you don't have to worry about meeting procurement regulations. But one thing to keep in mind is when you are purchasing items that meet all procurement regulations, you're not getting items made in China -- or items that don't meet the FAR, and sometimes there is an increased cost included with that. So when you are thinking about going open market or going outside of the contract, you have to remember that the reason items may be cheaper is the value is lower. You know in the government when we talk about value, we are not only talking about price but also talking about meeting procurement regulations and things like that. I also want to add to that and just say that FSSI OS3 is a brand-new contract. It came out about a month ago and just got up on GSA Advantage. If you haven't been on GSA Advantage in the past few weeks to check out FSSI OS3, i encourage you to follow the steps i went through on the webinar and get to GSA Advantage and you will see actually that the prices on OS3 are incredibly competitive. This is a hugely improved contract over OS2 and we were even very proud of that contract. So maybe in the past you were able to go open market or go elsewhere on Schedule 75, but we are confident you will find prices on OS3 that are extremely competitive.
M: That's great. Our next viewer specifically wants to know if power strips are included in office supplies contract?
RA: This question more or less goes to what the scope of office supplies is, and sometimes there is confusion about that. Someone wrote in a question about a particular type of fire pants. I'm not sure what that is -- but power strips are an office supply so you can be sure that you will find those on FSSI OS3 and they should be included on the contract. If you ever have any questions about what the scope of office supplies is on the FSSI OS3 contract, feel free to contact the FSSI team at
M: Great! Alright, our next question from our viewer would like for you to define green products.
RA: Green products essentially means the product meets "CPG" - which stands for Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. This criteria is developed by the EPA and the designation includes, among other factors, that items are created from recycled materials. So you can find out more about what CPG is by googling Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. It should take you to an EPA page that will get you a great explanation and much more than I have time to say right now. One thing to keep in mind when you are looking through green items, i think it's great that people in the Federal government are concerned about purchasing green. We encourage it here at GSA and throughout the Federal government, but there are times when certain items you are looking for -- there may not be a green item available for that particular product. Obviously when you are looking at paper we are talking about recycled paper and things like that. But when it comes to some items, there might not be a green version of the item available. So if you are on GSA advantage and you are using the green filter and you can't find what you are looking for, i recommend considering searching without that green filter.
M: Okay. Our next viewer is well-versed in their acronyms - we have a lot of acronyms here. Their question is, "Is OS3 the preferred method of purchasing OCONUS or should GCSS or PBUSE be utilized first? What is the difference in pricing?"
RA: The first acronym -- OCONUS, but I understand there are so many acronyms to straighten out when it comes to working with the Federal government -- but OCONUS stands for "Outside of the Continental United States". The essential scope when it comes to shipping for FSSI OS3 is designed for CONUS purchase which stands for the Continental US. So when you are making orders for outside the Continental US - what i recommend doing is....OS3 is designed for CONUS, but that doesn't mean that we can't meet your needs in FSSI OS3. One thing is- I had a meeting with vendors yesterday and they encouraged contacting them directly if you are in an office outside the Continental US. Let's say you are in Guam, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Europe, or anywhere else and you want to stick with the FSSI OS3 contract. Go to and you can find vendor information, as well as vendor contact information and let vendors know what your needs are and what kind of orders you will be making and where you need them shipped to outside of the Continental US. And they are confident they can work with GSA customers around the world.
M: That's helpful. Our next viewer has a question about item availability. This viewer is having a difficult time with GSA Advantage in finding items available on the site. The viewer has said, "Items available on GSA Advantage often come back from the vendor as discontinued after they have placed their order. Items that show available and that they have ordered and factored into their minimum purchase come back after the fact as discontinued by the vendor. By then they've lost their minimum purchase in some cases since their orders are not relatively large. And it's difficult to know exactly what they are ordering since many items do not include a photo." So they would like your two cents on that.
RA: This is another thing that came up in our customer and vendor meetings that we had yesterday. I think this is another fantastic improvement with FSSI OS3. One thing to keep in mind, when you go to GSA Advantage, you'll see items on FSSI OS3 and you will also see items that are not on it. They may be on Schedule 75 which includes a much greater number of vendors. We are working with OS3 vendors to increase standards of what you see on GSA advantage. First of all, you will always see an accurate picture. The item you see in the picture, if it's an FSSI OS3 item, is the item you are going to get. The vendors are sticking to these standards and these standards are important to them. Issues with having items discontinued, my assumption is that it may have been a purchase that was inadvertently made with Schedule 75 rather than FSSI OS3, but I am confident our vendors are committed and want to see success with this contract and they want to keep customers happy. So if you stick to FSSI OS3, i think you will see a lot of these issues alleviated.
M: Great. I think our next viewer has a similar question. They want to know, "Who is responsible for updating the GSA website with product availability - GSA or the vendor? Many times they will place an order only to receive an email or notification the next day that the item is no longer in stock. So why is it on GSA Advantage if it is not available? It's frustrating to them, especially at the end of the fiscal year. Can anything be done to improve this?"
RA: This relates back to the previous question and i would say that FSSI OS3 is what was done to alleviate this problem. You will find this contract is a huge improvement. There are so many communication channels available whether to reach out to vendors or to GSA to let us know about issues with vendor performance. I'm confident we won't have vendor performance issues or items saying they are in stock when they are not in stock. Basically as far as updating GSA Advantage, it is a channel that starts with the vendors and then comes to us. When they run out of an item, they will let us know and we'll change it. But keep in mind there are 1000 essential items on the FSSI OS3 contract and those items will always be available from vendors. Part of the contract is that they make those items always available to the customers.
M: That's great. Our next question -- I think you may have just answered this, but I think it is probably good to call it out -- does GSA Advantage indicate which items are OS3?
RA: In the webcast (if you were watching), i did a step-by-step walk-through on how to get your FSSI OS3 items on GSA Advantage. You will be able to view that walk-through in a few days as this webcast will be back up. You can also go to, and there is a link to a Youtube tutorial where i have taken people through making a purchase on GSA Advantage. But the gist is that you want to look for a blue rectangle that says "FSSI". That little icon indicates that an item is an OS3 item.
M: Okay - we have some great questions coming in from our viewers today. The next question is they want to know why you are citing FAR Part 16 and not part 8 which pertains to Federal supply schedule orders? Is Part 8 not applicable to OS3 orders over $3000?
RA: Just to clarify, I think this relates to a lot of customers being used to the previous FSSI OS structure -- FSSI OS1 and FSSI OS2 were BPAs built under MAS Schedule 75. But OS3 is a different structure. It's an IDIQ contract, which I went over and so fair opportunity requirements fall under FAR Part 16, not FAR Part 8. That was covered in the webcast but just to re-emphasize the reason we are citing Part 16 and not Part 8 is OS3 does not fall under Schedule 75. It's an independent contract and it's an IDIQ. Therefore FAR Part 16 applies.
M: Okay, there you go. Our next audience member is asking about shipping costs. How are they determined? Are they tax-free or are they taxed based on locality?
RA: All OS3 items are FOB destinations, which stands for "Free On Board" destination for CONUS delivery. Contractors are responsible for any local tax levied. For specialized orders and destinations, you can contact an OS3 contractor directly for any additional fees if applicable. The thing to keep in mind is that the contract is designed to be a tax-free contract because it is Federal orders.
M: Okay. Our next viewer is asking about fees the vendors may charge for small orders. Is it okay to pay that fee the vendors charge for small orders and how do you explain that for audit purposes?
RA: This is an interesting question. It might be an agency-specific question as far as whether you are allowed to pay fees. I recommend taking that question up the chain to your supervisor. That being said, i explained the importance of the order minimums but we have very customer-focused vendors on the OS3 contract and they are eager to work with customers and a lot of times if you contact them directly, you may be able to work out a structure where they are able to waive that fee.
M: We have a couple more questions here. Our next viewer has asked if there is a way to search for products from only a specific vendor? They are trying to meet the $100 minimum and need to find the products from just one particular vendor. How do you suggest placing an order when you have a number of different items but can't find one vendor who offers all the items? I see you have a link here, so is that something that this viewer and others may want to use?
RA: Yes exactly, so we included the link If you go to eLibrary, you can access the OS3 vendors and view their catalog specifically. When you go to eLibrary, you want to filter down on the left side of the page to a specific vendor name where you can access their catalog. When you click on the catalog, it will put you back into GSA Advantage, but the sort filter of the contract number and the criteria will include just that specific vendor. That's a great way to filter by specific vendors.
M: Our next viewer is asking for paper under the FSSI. Are the vendors also AbilityOne?
RA: So one thing that I want to drive home to everyone is that all vendors on FSSI OS3 are AbilityOne certified vendors. Like most Federal agencies, if your Federal agency has an AbilityOne mandate, you can be sure that you are meeting those AbilityOne mandates when using FSSI OS3 as all vendors are AbilityOne certified vendors.
M: Alright, our next question is also paper-based. Are you required to purchase 100 percent recycled paper?
RA: This goes back to agency-specific issues. Each agency has their own procurement policy. So you want to take that up the chain to someone in procurement who can let you know what the criteria is for recycled paper.
M: Another paper question: "Your paper cost is much higher than what I usually spend for copy paper. What do I do in that case?"
RA: Once again, this is an instance where I recommend going back to GSA Advantage and really exploring the FSSI OS3 contract. We have negotiated some fantastic prices and I think you will see it when you explore the catalogs on GSA Advantage. In addition, you want to keep in mind that the paper you're going to get on FSSI OS3 meets all procurement regulations. So when it comes to higher costs here in the Federal government, typically we are keeping in mind a value that consists not only of cost but also of meeting all procurement regulations. So once again, I encourage you to explore FSSI OS3 and you will probably find prices you're happy with.
M: Okay, our next question is about an order minimum. So this viewer wants to know, "Is the order minimum for each item or just for the vendor? In other words, can three items add up to the minimum?"
RA: The order minimum does pertain specifically to vendors, it does not pertain to items. And that's a bit of confusion I hear quite frequently. When you run into an order minimum from a particular vendor, it will range from $25 to $100. As long as you keep that purchase within one specific vendor, you will hit the order minimum. It's not item specific. Another thing, just to drive it home, I did bring it up through the course of the webcast, but just to bring it up one more time, we also have delivery-tier order thresholds. This is brand new to FSSI OS3. And essentially what these are great for is making larger orders. If you make an order of $300 or more, multiple vendors within the FSSI OS3 contract have additional discounts built in once you hit tiers of $300, $1000 and the discounts keep going up to $10,000 orders. Not only is it important to hit the minimum, but if you are making orders over $300, you may be able to find further improved discounts and prices from vendors.
M: Great! I think we have time for one last question from our viewers. This viewer wants to know, "Can you just order from a vendor directly without going through GSA advantage?" And again I see you have some links here for us so maybe you can talk through that?
RA: I do have two links but the first caveat I want to give is that here with the FSSI OS3 program we always do recommend ordering through GSA Advantage. It helps us help Federal agencies track their agency spend. It's got the most comprehensive tools for tracking spend and also tracking data as far as what are the most purchased items. GSA Advantage plays a huge part in developing the contract because we are looking at the 1000 most used items and those are the items that we base the entire FSSI OS3 contract on. Another great thing about GSA Advantage is it has great search filters. It has the FSSI OS3-specific search bar that ensures your purchases are FSSI OS3 purchases. However, you can contact vendors directly or go to brick and mortar stores and usually vendors have their own ordering portals. You can find more information about specific vendors at as well as But before you order directly from the vendor, the recommendation is always to ensure the items are FSSI-OS3 items. For example, say you need an item right away and you know one of these vendors has an office or brick-and-mortar store right down the street from your office. You might be tempted to just walk into the store, grab whatever items you need, make your purchase and get back to the office. But you want to keep in mind that vendors have a vast array of products that are not on the OS3 contract. In a brick-and-mortar store you are going to see items that don't meet the Federal procurement regulations. So what we recommend doing is if you need an item that minute, you can go on GSA Advantage and use the FSSI OS3 search filter. Find the items you are looking for, and then go to the brick-and-mortar store and purchase specifically those items. And the great thing is when you order FSSI OS3 items directly from a vendor with your Federal purchase card, you will get FSSI OS3 pricing automatically. And just one thing I wanted to add to that -- that was a long answer, so I lost my train of thought -- I just want to drive home the point again that is the recommended ordering channel.
M: Great. Well Robert, we want to thank you very much for providing all of this wonderful, useful, and relevant information on FSSI OS3 to all of our viewers today. We hope our audience members have found it equally useful. We want to thank you all for joining us today. We hope you have a wonderful rest of your day but we would like to remind you that all of these materials will be posted on within the next week or so, so you can access all of the materials that Robert discussed and presented today. We also want to remind you to sign up for the next Acquisition Seminar coming on Wednesday, February 18. We will be discussing the equal employment opportunity responsibilities of Federal procurement officers. Again, that's coming up on Wednesday, February 18 and we will have folks here from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the US Department of Labor, and they will be giving an overview of recent changes to the EEO requirements that apply to government acquisitions, so you don't want to miss that. We will be at the same time - 1PM Eastern and the same place - webcast channel so we hope that you join us. Please sign up on for that webcast. Thank you for joining us today, Robert, and have a great afternoon, everyone.
JA: Don't forget, the Federal Acquisition Institute has recorded today's seminar, and the video, along with the presentation material you saw today, will be posted in the video library on You should be able to access these items in a week or so. On behalf of the Federal Acquisition Institute, thank you once again for joining us.


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