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GSA SmartPay

Purchase

When paying for purchases of supplies, services, or construction, the GSA SmartPay solution provides your agency with numerous benefits including cost savings, discount programs, and refunds.  Find out more here! 

Account Holders

Overview

In accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 13.301, the government wide commercial purchase payment solution is authorized for use in making and/or paying for purchases of supplies, services, or construction. As an purchase account holder for your agency/ organization, you will be able to decide what to purchase, when to buy it, and from whom. Having this solution provides your agency/organization with numerous benefits.  

In order to obtain a purchase account, an employee must be recommended by their supervisor to apply through their program coordinator.  Potential purchase account holders MUST complete training before using the purchase account

Getting Started

The GSA SmartPay purchase program provides payment solutions to federal employees to make official government purchases for supplies, goods, and services under the micro-purchase threshold.

  • The GSA SmartPay payment solutions act as both the "ordering/contracting" mechanism and the payment mechanism for purchases under the micro-purchase threshold.
  • For purchases above the micro-purchase threshold, the purchase account may be used to place orders/make payments under existing contractual instruments in accordance with FAR 13.301

All purchase accounts are Centrally Billed Accounts (CBA), and the liability for transactions made by authorized account holders is borne by the Federal Government.  The Government is not liable for transactions when the use of the account is by a person who does not have actual, implied, or apparent authority for such use.

After being selected to receive a GSA SmartPay purchase account, you will need to contact the program coordinator (A/OPC) for your agency/ organization.  Your A/OPC will set up your account with the issuing bank. 

Account set-up can be done relatively quickly, usually within 10 working days from the time the account set-up forms are submitted. Emergency processing can occur within 24 hours and you should receive it within 48 hours of receipt of a written request.

 

Before Making Your Purchase

When you receive your purchase account:

  • Read the account holder agreement.
  • Sign the back of your charge card, if applicable.
  • Follow the instructions to activate your account.
  • Store your account in a secure location until you are ready to use it.

Before using your purchase account, make sure you:

  • Plan your monthly purchases
  • Ensure availability of funds
  • Conduct market research
  • Select the best value
  • Seek state tax exemption
  • Talk to merchants

Making Purchases/Placing Orders

Making Purchases

As an account holder, you can buy any commercially available supply or service within your spending limits and not prohibited by either federal or agency-specific procurement regulations.  The A/OPC or contracting officer can provide you with agency specific requirements regarding purchase amounts and types of purchases needing independent receipt documentation and/or approval. If a purchase appears questionable to you, consult your A/OPC or contracting office.

Purchases that are STRICTLY PROHIBITED include:

  • Long-term rental or lease of land or buildings
  • Travel or travel-related expenses (not including conference rooms, meeting spaces, and local transportation services)
  • Cash advances (unless permitted by your agency/ organization)

 

Placing Orders

You can place orders either over the counter, by phone/ fax, or online.  GSA offers e-Tools to help manage an agency’s GSA procurement transactions, place orders, or learn about business opportunities.  Click here for a list of GSA’s e-Tools.

When placing your order, make sure you:

  • Identify the purchase as an OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT PURCHASE so that it will be exempt from federal taxes and, if applicable exempt from state/ local taxes
  • Get a copy of the itemized receipt
  • Place the receipt in a safe place to use in reconciling your monthly invoice statement
  • Record the purchase in your purchase log
  • Verify that the item and price are correct upon arrival and if there is any discrepancy, call the merchant immediately

Do Not Pay List

In order to help eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs, federal agencies should focus on preventing payment errors before they occur.  The Do Not Pay List consists of a list of databases containing information on a recipient’s eligibility to receive federal benefits payments or federal awards, such as grants and contracts. By checking these databases before making payments or awards, agencies can identify ineligible recipients and prevent certain improper payments from being made.

Below are a few resources for more information on the Do Not Pay List:

Benefits of Using Do Not Pay:

  • Helps agencies eliminate manual checking of databases maintained in multiple sites
  • Provides access to current, relevant data to help make a payment or eligibility decision.
  • Allows an agency a simple, streamlined way to comply with the “Do Not Pay” initiative, which requires all agencies to review key databases pre-award and pre-payment.
  • Detects and helps prevent erroneous payments.

Useful Websites:

  • Do Not Pay Portal – The Do Not Pay Business Center will provide automated tools, including a web-based single entry access portal, which federal agencies can use to gain access to an array of data sources to assist in determining whether an individual or company is eligible to receive federal payments or engage in federal contracts.
  • PaymentAccuracy.gov – As required by Executive Order 13520 dated November 20, 2009, Reducing Improper Payments, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice and Office of Management and Budget, established this website to create a centralized location to publish information about improper payments made to individuals, organizations, and contractors. This website also provides a centralized place where the public can report suspected incidents of fraud, waste, and abuse.

The Do Not Pay Portal Consists of Information Compiled from the Following Sources:

Excluded Party List System (EPLS)

  • Identifies parties excluded from receiving federal contracts, certain subcontracts, and certain types of federal financial and nonfinancial assistance and benefits; 
  • Verifies whether an individual that is receiving unemployment payments is still living, owes federal non-tax debt, and/or is recently employed;
  • Identifies providers, individuals, or vendors that are excluded from doing further business with the government or should be subject to more oversight based on past performance; 
  • Identifies keying errors that could cause the wrong entity to receive a payment; and  
  • Keeps the federal purchasing community aware of administrative and statutory exclusions across the entire government, suspected terrorists, and individuals barred from entering the United States. 

Death Master File (DMF)

  • Verifies whether an individual that is receiving unemployment payments is still living, owes federal non-tax debt, and/or is recently employed.

List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE)

  • Verifies whether an individual that is receiving unemployment payments is still living, owes federal non-tax debt, and/or is recently employed
  • Identifies providers, individuals, or vendors that are excluded from doing further business with the government or should be subject to more oversight based on past performance

Debt Check

  • Verifies whether an individual that is receiving unemployment payments is still living, owes federal non-tax debt, and/or is recently employed
  • Identifies vendors that owe federal non-tax debt and ensure vendors that owe debts are paid via the Treasury offset process instead of through a credit card.

The Work Number

  • Verifies whether an individual that is receiving unemployment payments is still living, owes federal non-tax debt, and/or is recently employed for agency programs that are means tested
  • Verifies the accuracy of income levels at the time of enrollment 

Central Contractor Registration (CCR)

  • Identifies providers, individuals, or vendors that are excluded from doing further business with the government or should be subject to more oversight based on past performance
  • During the payment process, ensures that the name associated with the DUNS is the name associated with that DUNS in CCR, thus preventing payment to the wrong entity
  • Identifies keying errors that could cause the wrong entity to receive a payment

Other Sources a Cardholder Can Use for Market Research:

  • Affirmative Proceeding Data
  • Dun & Bradstreet
  • Recovery.gov
  • Google Maps/Search Zip Code
  • Prison Address Source
  • Agency provided payment file
  • Agency provided payee list
  • FMS Payment Data
  • USASpending.gov
  • IPP Vendor Data
  • ASAP Grantee Data

FSSI

FSSI Office Supply Management

The Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for Office Supplies Third Generation (FSSI OS3) is GSA’s latest FSSI solution for office supplies. Strategic Sourcing leverages the purchasing power of the entire federal government, reducing costs of goods and services and allowing for better service. FSSI OS3 is a purchasing channel solution that helps federal customers achieve significant savings on their office supply purchases, while also supporting the nation’s small businesses. OS3 is expected to provide more than $90 million in annual savings captured through lower prices. The awards are the result of a collaborative team effort among customer agencies across the federal government. Under OS3 prices decrease as the collective purchases grow across the Federal Government.

Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Purchasing Solution, a Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI)

GSA has established Government Wide Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA)s to sell  Maintenance, Repair & Operations products as a strategic sourcing solution. Average pricing is 12 percent lower than offered previously within the government marketplace.


Products are grouped into three categories in order to streamline offerings and ensure lower prices. These categories cover a wide range of hardware, tools, and paints and sealants products. By purchasing under this solution, customers can achieve socio-economic and green purchasing goals, while also achieving savings.  Customer agencies can place orders through GSA Advantage!, DoD EMALL or directly with the contractor using their GSA SmartPay payment solution.


The MRO website provides more information, including helpful documents for how to order plus a schedule for live training webinars: www.gsa.gov/fssimro


MRO can also be found on the Acquisition Gateway , built by GSA, to helps federal government buyers from all agencies access information from across the acquisition community.

After Purchasing

After Making Your Purchase

Inspection and Acceptance (receipt of supplies and services) – For products, the account holder shall inspect the items to verify they are in good condition, with no visible damage or defects, and the items meet the requirements of the purchase (color, size, quantity, etc.).  Account holders should also verify that the purchase documentation (receipts, packing lists, shipping documents, etc.) matches what is provided by the merchant and that the all requirements of the purchase are fulfilled. For services, the account holder shall verify that the work done is satisfactory.  If upon inspection, all terms of the order as described above are fulfilled, the products (supplies) or services may be accepted.  In the event the items or services purchased are defective, damaged, or otherwise do not comply with the account holder’s order, the account holder shall attempt to resolve these issues as soon as possible directly with the merchant.  

Accountability for Items Purchased – The item must be properly accounted for in accordance with applicable federal and agency policies and regulations.

Order Cancellation – If you need to cancel an order, immediately contact the merchant.

Returning a Purchase/ Obtaining Redress –You can return the purchase to the merchant for a variety of reasons within 60 days after the date on your invoice where the item appears as a charge. Work with the merchant on a resolution to refund or replace any defective items.

Billing and Payment

Reconciling Your Purchase Account Statement

One of your primary jobs as an account holder is to review and reconcile your monthly billing statement within the timeframes required by your agency/organization (usually 3 to 5 days). Reconciling your statement includes certifying receipts, annotating accounting codes, identifying disputed items and completing any other documentation required by your agency/organization before forwarding your statement to your Approving Official (AO) or the appropriate payment/finance office.

If you dispute a transaction, be sure to contact the merchant and/or issuing bank promptly to ensure the dispute is recorded within the time-frame prescribed by the bank. Remember, the Federal Government is liable for all undisputed charges made by an authorized account holder.

Green Purchasing

There are several environmentally friendly best practices you as an account holder or a program coordinator can implement to reduce your carbon footprint.  These best practices include:

  • Eliminating the use of paper by signing up for online or paperless statements and payments
  • Reduce the need to copy and print by taking advantage of online reporting.  If you do need to print, use recycled paper and ink cartridges. 
  • Reduce the use of convenience checks.
  • Request a GSA SmartPay charge card that is made from recycled or environmentally friendly materials.   
  • When shopping, use your GSA SmartPay account to purchase environmentally friendly or recycled products.  Use the GSA Advantage! Environmental Aisle to procure green products and services to maximum extent practicable. 
  • Inquire about any green purchasing training offered at your agency.

Responsibilities

You are the government's agent for each purchase made with the purchase account. You are responsible and accountable for each transaction. In addition to the responsibilities listed here, you must comply with all applicable regulations and procedures of your agency/ organization.

Account Holder Responsibilities: Do's

  • Do keep your account in a safe and secure place.
  • Do Maintain a purchase log and ensure availability of funds before purchase:  You must track purchases during the month to ensure that there are sufficient funds available to make all required purchases.  Account holders should use a log system to record purchases and the dollar amounts committed.  Account holders should also familiarize themselves with agency record retention policies as well as NARA’s General Records Schedule (GRS) 1.1 - Financial Management and Reporting Records
  • Do keep your receipts for all purchases.
  • Do use the account only to make informed buys of approved goods and services.
  • Do ensure availability of funds before purchase.
  • Do observe all dollar limits on purchases.
  • Do seek state tax exemption.
  • Do reconcile all transactions.
  • Do use the account ethically.
  • Do resolve disputes in a timely manner.
  • Do leverage buying options to save your agency money.
  • Do return your account to the purchase Agency/ Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC) if you leave your agency/organization or retire.
  • Do immediately report the lost or stolen account to your A/OPC and the issuing bank.
  • Do destroy any lost or stolen accounts that are recovered.
  • Do purchase supplies and services from mandatory sources such as AbilityOne/ JWOD (see FAR 8.7).
  • Do be aware of identity theft schemes attempting to gain access to financial information.
  • Do be aware that misuse of the purchase account could result in disciplinary actions by your agency.

Account Holder Responsibilities: Don'ts

  • Don’t use the purchase account to purchase:
    • Long-term rental or lease of land or buildings;
    • Travel or travel-related expenses (except it may be used for meeting spaces, and local transportation services, e.g., Metro fare cards, subway tokens, etc.);
    • Cash advances, unless permitted by agency/organization selected value-added option;
    • Personal items; or
    • Items that exceed the government's actual need (e.g., designer items when less expensive items are available).
  • Don’t allow others to use your account. It is assigned to you and is your responsibility.
  • Don’t split purchases in order to stay below your authorized spend limit. If you do so, your account privileges may be suspended and you could face further disciplinary action. If you are uncertain as to whether a purchase is appropriate, ask your Approving Official (AO) or purchase A/OPC. Your agency/organization may have additional restrictions for the use of the account, which you should follow.

Reporting a Lost or Stolen Card

Immediately report your lost or stolen travel account to your:

Reporting as account as stolen does not relieve you or the Federal Government of payment for any transactions that were made by the account holder prior to reporting it stolen.  If the account holder did not make the transactions appearing on the account holder statement, the account holder must submit a dispute form to the bank within 60 days. Failure to submit the dispute form could result in liability you or to the Federal Government.  If needed, the bank will mail you a new card within one business day from the time theft or loss was reported and will assign you a new account number.

Common Questions

Who should I contact for help with my account?

First contact your Agency/ Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC). A/OPCs can answer most account related questions including:

  • How do I apply for a card?
  • What is considered proper use of my card?
  • What is my spending limit?
  • What are merchant codes and how can I request lifting these codes?
  • What is delinquency? What is fraud? What are the consequences for my agency?
  • Why has my card been suspended or canceled?
  • How do I get set up for online access?

Account holders can also contact the bank directly using the customer service phone number listed on the back of their card.

  • Citibank, 1-800-790-7206
  • JPMorgan Chase, 1-888-297-0781
  • US Bank, 1-888-994-6722

If your issue can not be resolved by your A/OPC or the bank, please forward it to GSA Program Support at (703) 605-2808 or email gsa_smartpay@gsa.gov.

How do I get a GSA SmartPay account? Do I need to qualify?

Accounts, such as charge cards, need to be obtained through your agency’s payment solutions program. Each agency has different criteria for distributing accounts to employees. Contact your supervisor or your agency’s program management office for more information on applying for a GSA SmartPay account. 

Depending on the type of payment solution and agency/organization, there are different qualifications for applicants to obtain an account:

  • For purchase accounts, a supervisor must recommend an employee to apply.  Potential purchase account holders must complete purchase account holder training before using their purchase account.
  • Depending on the frequency of travel, agency or governmentwide policy may require that an employee obtain a Government travel account to make travel related purchases. Travel account applicants may be subject to a credit worthiness check and must complete travel account holder training before using their travel account.
  • Fleet accounts are generally assigned to a vehicle, rather than an individual. Users of a Government vehicle should contact their fleet program manager to learn more about how to use vehicle fleet accounts.
What may be purchased with my GSA SmartPay account?

Purchase Account – Purchase accounts are the preferred contracting and payment mechanism for micro-purchases of supplies and services in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Only a few categories of purchases are excluded, such as:

  • Long-term rental or lease of land or buildings;
  • Travel related expenses (excluding conference rooms, meeting spaces, and local transportation services such as Metro fare cards, subway tokens, etc.);
  • Cash advances (unless permitted as a value added service under the agency task order).

For purchases above the micro-purchase threshold, the purchase card may be used as an ordering and payment mechanism, not a contracting mechanism. These purchases will require a separate contract.

What policies exist regarding use of charge cards?

Depending on the type of account, different policies may apply.  Policies include:

  • Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR);
  • Federal Travel Regulations (FTR);
  • Federal Management Regulations (FMR);
  • OMB Circular A-123 Appendix B;
  • Treasury Financial Manual for Guidance of Departments and Agencies.

Additionally, many agencies have additional regulations that are specific to their program and tailored to the agency's mission and operating procedures. Contact your agency program management office for more information regarding agency-specific policies.

 

What are the training requirements? How will my program coordinator know that I have completed my online training?

All program participants must be trained and receive a training completion certificate prior to appointment.  In addition, refresher training must be completed every 3 years (or more often if required by your agency training policy).  Training certificates serve as proof that an account holder has taken the appropriate training course. 

Account holders can obtain their training certificate by logging into the GSA SmartPay Online Training.  If the account holder has previously taken the course and passed the quiz, they may reprint or save the certificate with the original course completion date by logging into the online training.  An account holder can also take a refresher quiz.  A passing score will enable the account holder to reprint the certificate with a refreshed date. 

What is card misuse, and what are the potential penalties?

Intentional use of a government account for other than official government business constitutes misuse, and depending on the situation, may constitute fraud. Each agency develops and implements policies related to employee misuse of charge cards. Examples of misuse include:

  • Purchases that exceed the cardholder's limit;
  • Purchases that are not authorized by the agency;
  • Purchases for which there is no funding;
  • Purchases for personal consumption, and
  • Purchases that do not comply with the policies.

Potential consequences for the account holder may include: counseling, cancellation of the account, a written warning, notation in employee performance evaluation, reprimand, and/or suspension or termination of employment.

In the case of purchase account or centrally billed accounts (CBA) travel misuse, the employee may be held personally liable to the Government for the amount of any unauthorized transactions. Depending on the agency and the circumstances, there are a number of applicable laws that can result in fines or imprisonment.

Additionally, the contractor banks are authorized to take certain actions against account holders whose accounts are cancelled for delinquency, such as:

  • Assessing late fees;
  • Utilizing collection agencies to recover the delinquent balance;
  • Reporting the delinquency to national credit bureaus, and
  • Salary offset.
What is my responsibility when it comes to paying taxes when using my GSA SmartPay account?

In some cases, when using certain types of cards, government account holders are exempt from taxes on their purchases.  Please visit the SmartTax section of the website for more information on taxes.  

  • Centrally Billed Accounts (CBA): CBAs are purchase accounts where payment is made directly to the bank by the Government.  Currently, all states except Arizona, Illinois, and Hawaii exempt Federal Government employees with CBA purchase accounts.
  • Individually Billed Accounts (IBA): IBAs are travel accounts where payment is made directly to the bank by the individual.  The state determines the exemption status for Individually Billed Accounts.
  • Integrated Accounts:  Integrated accounts are CBAs
What is delinquency?

Delinquency is when undisputed account balances remain unpaid more than 61 days past the statement date. Individually billed account (IBA) account holders are liable for payment on their account regardless of whether they have received reimbursement from their agency. Account balances that are in dispute or being reviewed are not considered delinquent.

What is split disbursement?

The payment process called split disbursement is defined in the GSA SmartPay 2 master contract as the process of dividing a travel voucher reimbursement between the contractor (bank) and the traveler. The balance designated to go to each is sent directly to the appropriate party.

Note:  Although OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B in Chapter 4.4 requires all executive branch agencies to implement split disbursement, it may not yet be operational in your agency/organization. Please contact your Agency/Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC) for further details

Is a merchant allowed to photocopy a GSA SmartPay charge card?

 

Both VISA and MasterCard state in their guidelines that a merchant is allowed to make/store a photocopy of a charge card provided they do NOT record or copy the PIN and/or CVC data in any manner or for any purpose.

VISA guidelines state:  A merchant must not require a cardholder to provide any supplementary cardholder information as a condition of honoring the card including photocopying the card, unless it is required or permitted elsewhere in the US Regional Operating Regulations.

MasterCard guidelines state:  The merchant must absolutely not copy the back of the card because the merchant is not allowed to record the CVC data.  Although there is no rule prohibiting making a copy of the card front, there are standards regarding storing and destroying account data, which would include a copy of the card front. 

Note:  According to US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 33, 701, it is illegal for a merchant to photocopy your Government ID.     

What are the benefits of having a GSA SmartPay purchase account?

 

Government purchase account holders are personnel that have been requested by their supervisor to receive a purchase account for work-related purchases on behalf of their particular office. This streamlines an office’s ability to make purchases, rather than relying on a centralized purchasing office.

Can I use my account to fund alternative payment mechanisms, such as PayPal?

 

Third Party Payment processors (e.g., PayPal, iBill, etc.) offer e-commerce/internet payment solutions for commercial transactions. The processors own merchant accounts that allow them to accept and process orders on behalf of other companies. Many vendors choose to utilize third party payment processors in order to accept online payments without having to establish a merchant account through a bank. Some vendors find that this is a more cost effective option, especially if they do not process enough transactions to establish their own merchant account to accept charge cards. Vendors pay third party processors a transaction fee for these services rather than processing transactions through a merchant bank.

Internet transactions that are made using third party payment platforms are considered to be high-risk transactions and alternative methods of payment should always be considered. Although there are not any existing government-wide policies or procedures outlining the use of third party payment processors, several agencies have developed internal policies related to this issue. These policies range from the complete restriction of third party payment processors to less restrictive policies which allow for transactions to be made when a workaround cannot be identified.

Check with your agency/organization card program management office to learn more about agency/organization’s policy.

Can I use my account to purchase items from another federal agency?

GSA SmartPay accounts can be used to make purchases from any entity that accepts charge cards so long as the purchase is made in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.  However, effective June 1, 2015, the Treasury Department lowered the maximum dollar amount allowed for intergovernmental GSA SmartPay account transactions to $24 999. 

Additional details are available in Notice on Treasury Policy Change Effective June 1, 2015.

Program Coordinators/AOs

How it Works

The GSA SmartPay purchase program provides payment solutions to Federal employees to make official Government purchases for supplies, goods, and services under the micro-purchase threshold.

  • The GSA SmartPay purchase accounts are both a procurement and payment mechanism for micro-purchases.
  • For purchases above the micro-purchase threshold, the GSA SmartPay purchase account may be used as an ordering and payment mechanism, but not a contracting mechanism.

All purchase accounts are Centrally Billed Accounts (CBA), and the liability for transactions made by authorized account holders is borne by the Federal Government.  The Federal Government is not liable for transactions on the account when the use of the account is by a person who does not have actual, implied, or apparent authority for such use.

As a program coordinator, you will set up accounts for account holders with the GSA SmartPay issuing bank.  Account set-up can be done relatively quickly, usually within 10 working days from the time the account set-up forms are submitted. Emergency processing can occur within 24 hours and if required, a purchase charge card will be sent to the account holder within 48 hours of receipt of a written request.

Account holders can purchase any commercially available supply or service within their spending limits and not prohibited by either federal or agency-specific procurement regulations.  You need to provide the account holder with agency specific requirements regarding purchase amounts and types of purchases needing independent receipt documentation and/or approval.

Purchases that are STRICTLY PROHIBITED include:

  • Long-term rental or lease of land or buildings
  • Travel or travel-related expenses (not including conference rooms, meeting spaces, and local transportation services)
  • Cash advances (unless permitted by your agency/ organization)

Managing your Purchase Program

The GSA SmartPay purchase program provides payment solutions to federal government employees for official government purchases.  In order to be successful in managing your purchase program, you will need to have a clear understanding of how the GSA SmartPay program works, actively participate in meetings and training conferences, communicate relevant information to account holders, and be familiar with agency/ organization specific policies and procedures.

Refunds

The Federal Government saves on processing costs and generates revenue through volume refunds.  The amount of refund your agency receives is calculated during task order negotiation.

Agencies must verify their own refunds.  You can do this by comparing the base points in the task order with the quarterly refund report received from your bank.  If you need a copy of the quarterly report, contact your point of contact at the bank.  With GSA SmartPay, split disbursement will allow agencies to receive productivity and sales refunds for IBA accounts in addition to CBA accounts.

Click here for more information on refunds.  

Reporting Tools and Additional Tools

Program coordinators should use electronic reports to monitor and track misuse and fraud.  The following reports are available to you from the bank and may be utilized to detect misuse and fraud within your program:

  • Account Activity Report –This report shows all active accounts and spending for each account during a billing cycle.  It provides details on each transaction, including transaction date, transaction type, merchant name, and dollar amount.  It is particularly useful for identifying suspicious merchants, unusually high spending patterns, excessive convenience check usage, and untimely purchases.
  • Declined Authorizations Report – The declined authorization report will identify cardholders who have attempted to use a card to buy an item for which they are not authorized, that exceeds their single-purchase limits, that exceeds their monthly purchase limit, or from a merchant that falls under a blocked Merchant Category Code (MCC).
  • Disputes Report – The disputes report identifies date, merchant, reason code, dollar amount, and status of each dispute filed by a cardholder.  Approving officials and A/OPC’s should track and follow up on disputes to determine their outcomes.  Cardholders should attempt to resolve disputes directly with merchants prior to filing a disputes report.  If a merchant is consistently appearing on the disputes report, the A/OPC should determine whether the merchant may have billing issues, quality issues, or is attempting to commit fraud by submitting false transactions.
  • Unusual Spending Activity Report – The banks offer various reports identifying transactions that may warrant further review.
  • Lost/Stolen Account Report –The lost/stolen account report identifies accounts that are reported lost or stolen.  This may either be an indicator that the account holder needs to secure his/her account or that the account holder is attempting to disguise misuse or fraudulent activity by denying the charges.
  • Master File – The master file should be reviewed periodically to eliminate cardholders who are no longer employed in the agency, correct addresses, and verify whether card limits and authorization controls are appropriate.
  • Ad Hoc Reports - Your bank may offer an ad hoc reporting tool that enables you to create customized reports with the data elements you specify.

FSSI

FSSI Office Supply Management

The Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for Office Supplies Third Generation (FSSI OS3) is GSA’s latest FSSI solution for office supplies. Strategic Sourcing leverages the purchasing power of the entire federal government, reducing costs of goods and services and allowing for better service. FSSI OS3 is a purchasing channel solution that helps federal customers achieve significant savings on their office supply purchases, while also supporting the nation’s small businesses. OS3 is expected to provide more than $90 million in annual savings captured through lower prices. The awards are the result of a collaborative team effort among customer agencies across the federal government. Under OS3 prices decrease as the collective purchases grow across the Federal Government. 

Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Purchasing Solution, a Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI)

GSA has established Government Wide Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA)s to sell  Maintenance, Repair & Operations products as a strategic sourcing solution. Average pricing is 12 percent lower than offered previously within the government marketplace.


Products are grouped into three categories in order to streamline offerings and ensure lower prices. These categories cover a wide range of hardware, tools, and paints and sealants products. By purchasing under this solution, customers can achieve socio-economic and green purchasing goals, while also achieving savings.  Customer agencies can place orders through GSA Advantage!, DoD EMALL or directly with the contractor using their GSA SmartPay payment solution.


The MRO website provides more information, including helpful documents for how to order plus a schedule for live training webinars: www.gsa.gov/fssimro


MRO can also be found on the Acquisition Gateway , built by GSA, to helps federal government buyers from all agencies access information from across the acquisition community.

Billing and Payment

For CBA accounts, the Federal Government accepts liability only for those proper charges made by an authorized centrally billed account holders, but is not liable for any unauthorized use. Unauthorized use is defined as the use of a payment solution by a person, other than the account holder, who does not have actual, implied, or apparent authority for such use and from which the account holder receives no benefit. When the centrally billed account has been used by an authorized account holder to make an unauthorized purchase, the centrally billed account participant is liable for the charge.

Realizing Cost Savings

The GSA Office of Charge Card Management (OCCM) and GSA SmartPay contractor banks are dedicated to identifying opportunities to provide customers with GSA SmartPay solutions to help address agency payment challenges. OCCM seeks to increase awareness of available payment solutions under the GSA SmartPay 2 master contract and help agencies continue to find ways to increase payment efficiencies and earn refunds. In the current budgetary environment, OCCM is committed to providing information to agency executives and card managers to identify innovative ways to help realize cost savings.

Responsibilities

As a program coordinator, you serve as the liaison between your agency/organization, the bank, the account holder, and the GSA Contracting Office. Your role is essential to efficiently and effectively manage the GSA Smartpay purchase program.

The following list identifies specific A/OPC responsibilities as outlined in the GSA SmartPay Master Contract. You may be required to assume some or all of the following responsibilities:

  • Maintain an up-to-date list of account names, account numbers, addresses, emails, and phone numbers, of all current account holders and accounts.
  • Provide to the issuing bank any changes in your agency's organizational structure that may affect invoice/report distribution.
  • Review and evaluate the bank's technical and administrative task order performance and compliance.
  • Resolve technical and operational problems between the bank and account holders as required.
  • Take appropriate action regarding delinquent accounts and report to internal investigative units and the GSA Contracting Officer any observed violations of applicable executive orders, laws or regulations.
  • Participate in training conferences and train account holders.
  • Ensure account holders use their account correctly.
  • Monitor account activity and manage delinquencies.
  • Ensure that appropriate steps are taken to mitigate suspension or cancellation actions.
  • Develop agency program procedures and policies as necessary.

Although it is not specifically mentioned in the GSA SmartPay Master Contract, an important responsibility you have as an A/OPC is to keep the lines of communication open with all key program participants. The key to an effective purchase program is to ensure that all participants, including senior management/leadership, are aware of what is going on in the program. Stay in touch with your agency/organization's purchase program participants by networking, asking questions, and sharing or distributing agency/organization policy changes, program information, and/or other purchase account information.  You should try to establish relationships with the account holders and Approving Officials (AO) within your span of control. The better you understand why and how the purchase account will be used, the more effective you can be in managing the program.

Liability for Purchase Account Transactions and The Review Process

Liability for Purchase Transactions

The GSA SmartPay Master Contract defines liability for purchase transactions:

  • Liability for transactions made by authorized account holders rests with the Federal Government.
  • If the account is used by an authorized account holder to make an unauthorized purchase, the Government is liable for payment and the agency is responsible for taking appropriate action against the account holder.
  • Use of the account by a person other than the account holder, who does not have actual, implied, or apparent authority for such use and for which the account holder receives no benefit, is not the liability of the Federal Government. If it is discovered that someone other than the account holder has used the account, it should be reported immediately to the A/OPC and the bank’s customer service representative.
The Review Process

Because an agency is liable for unauthorized purchases by an authorized account holder, agency purchase policy should address reviews conducted by the Approving Official (AO) and Agency/Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC) to mitigate agency risk.

Approving Official Review:

The approving official is responsible for ensuring that all purchases made by the account holder were appropriate and the charges accurate.  All questionable purchases must be resolved with the account holder.  In the event an unauthorized purchase is detected, the AO must notify the A/OPC and other appropriate personnel in accordance with agency policy.  After review, the AO will sign the account statement and maintain the documentation in accordance with agency procedures.  Timely reviews of transactions are necessary to ensure detection of possible cases of account misuse and fraud.  The AO should have direct knowledge of the account holder’s role in the agency and the ability to verify receipt of the purchase.

Program Coordinator Review:

Program coordinator reviews of the purchase program must be accomplished to ensure adequate local internal controls are in place.  The review should consist of an evaluation of local operating procedures to ensure that account holders and approving officials are operating within the prescribed policies. A review includes: 

  • Compliance with agency policies;
  • Applicable training requirements;
  • Appropriate delegation of authority;
  • Integrity of the purchase process;
  • Compliance with procurement regulations;
  • Receipt and acceptance procedures; and
  • Records retention.

Reporting a Lost or Stolen Account

As the program coordinator (A/OPC), you have the responsibility to immediately report a lost or stolen account to the issuing bank so that they can cancel the account. 

Reporting the account as stolen does not relieve the account holder or Federal Government of payment for any transactions that were made by the account holder prior to reporting it stolen.  If the account holder did not make the transactions appearing on the billing statement, the account holder must submit a dispute form to the bank within 90 days from the date of the transaction. Failure to submit the dispute form could result in liability to the account holder or to the Federal Government.  If required, the bank will mail a new card within one business day from the time theft or loss was reported and will assign a new account number to the replacement card.

Best Practices

Best practices for managing a GSA SmartPay purchase program:

  • Engage management at the highest levels.
  • Train A/OPCs and account holders.
  • Review credit limits and lower as appropriate.
  • Use the bank’s Electronic Access System (EAS), data mining tools, and agency/ organization technology to run reports for monitoring questionable transactions.
  • Provide the GSA SmartPay card-sized booklet, “Helpful Hints for Purchase Card Use”, with each account holder application.
  • Publish frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to the purchase account on your agency’s/ organization’s website.
  • Create a monthly newsletter to reinforce agency/ organization policies and procedures.
  • Monitor spend by developing ad hoc reports that can be generated via Electronic Access Systems (EAS).
  • Perform an annual review of all issued accounts to determine if each account holder meets the criteria for continued participation in the federal government purchase program.
  • Provide comprehensive face-to-face account holder training as orientation for new account holders.
  • Address standards of conduct/ethics and clearly state consequences for misuse.
  • Discuss agency/organization policy.
  • Ensure account holders and A/OPCs fulfill the required refresher training requirements at a minimum every three years, or more frequently as per agency/ organization policy.
  • Ensure that training is easily accessible.

Common Questions

As a Program Coordinator, how do I connect with other agency program coordinators to share ideas and best practices?

There are several ways to actively participate within the community:

  • Join the Discussions with GSA SmartPay Community on Interact: A private online community allowing Program Coordinators (A/OPCs) a central location to share ideas and best practices, as well as discuss all other issues related to the GSA SmartPay program.
  • Attend the Quarterly A/OPC meetings, monthly Discussions with Dave conference call,  as well as other special meetings and events.  Dates and location for all meetings will be posted within the Interact Community.
  • Attend the GSA SmartPay Annual Training Forum:  Learn about all aspects of successfully managing your charge card program, including innovative payment solutions and the latest advancements in program oversight, as well as network, collaborate and share best practices with other card managers, bank representatives and GSA personnel. Check the website for more information.
What can I do to improve my agency’s program performance?

The GSA SmartPay program office provides a number of tools and other types of assistance to support effective program management in agencies across the Government. A few tips include:

  • Ensure policies are being followed: Most agencies have comprehensive policies regarding the administration of their payment programs. This includes policies for account use as well as for program management. Agency program management offices should ensure that the policies are communicated to cardholders and easily accessible (e.g., post the regulations on the agency's Intranet website). It is important for agencies to follow through with the implementation of their policies, including distribution and compliance monitoring.
  • Make sure training is a priority for all account holders and program coordinators: 
    • GSA offers free basic online training covering regulations and best practices for all agencies,
    • A variety of free resources and guidebooks to support card management are available on our website 
    • Contact the bank to schedule an in person or virtual Electronic Access System (EAS) training for your program coordinators
    • Attend the annual GSA SmartPay training forum provides a large variety of training for all program coordinators   
  • Initiate an Accounts Payable File Review:  An A/P File Review is a no-cost tool for agencies to help identify opportunities to leverage GSA SmartPay solutions as methods of payment to increase process efficiencies, cost savings, and refunds. 
  • Participate in Workgroups:  The GSA SmartPay program office sponsors periodic workgroups to facilitate the sharing of information between agencies, and to collect feedback on the performance of the GSA SmartPay program office and its contractor banks.
How do I go about incorporating a new payment solution into my program?

Under the GSA SmartPay program there are many options available to assist in meeting your agency’s mission critical needs.  Products  and related services under the GSA SmartPay program can offer customized payment solutions to help your agency achieve its goals. Upon award of the GSA SmartPay 2 Master Contract, each agency awarded a task order to one of the three GSA SmartPay contractors: Citibank, J.P. Morgan, and U.S. Bank. The products and services offered to your agency under the GSA SmartPay program, may not be specified at the task order level, as each agency's task order is different and unique.  Therefore, it is important to review your agency/organization's task order and speak to those within your agency responsible for managing your agency’s task order, such as your level 1 Agency/Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC) and/or the Contracting Officer, to find out how your agency/organization can take advantage of these offerings. 

What policies exist regarding the use of the GSA SmartPay payment solutions?

There are a number of policies that govern the use of Government payment solutions. Policies include:

  • Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR);
  • Federal Travel Regulations (FTR);
  • Federal Management Regulations (FMR);
  • OMB Circular A-123 Appendix B;
  • Treasury Financial Manual for Guidance of Departments and Agencies.

Additionally, many agencies have regulations that are specific to their program and tailored to the agency's mission and operating procedures. Contact your agency program management office for more information regarding agency-specific policies.

What training is available for agency program coordinators?

There is a variety of free training offered for program coordinators (A/OPCs).  All upcoming training relevant information for program coordinators will be posted in Interact. 

What can agencies/organizations do to help prevent misuse of cards? What tools are available to provide assistance to agencies in detecting fraud and misuse?

Agencies can significantly benefit by mandating training that meets governmentwide standards for account holders and A/OPCs. Currently, training varies widely among the agencies, with many agencies relying on the training provided at the annual GSA SmartPay training forum and the online training courses on the GSA SmartPay website.  These training courses provide the necessary governmentwide rules and regulations but do not reflect agency-specific requirements.

The master contract requires a number of tools that support the Government in controlling and monitoring card spend to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. Examples of these tools are:

  • Credit limits – Credit limits restrict single purchase, daily, weekly, or monthly expenditures by the cardholders. In accordance with agency policy, limits are set to meet the agency needs.
  • Merchant Category Code (MCC) Blocks – MCCs are established by the bankcard associations to classify different types of businesses. Merchants are assigned codes that describe their primary line of business. Agencies can limit the types of businesses where cardholders can make purchases by limiting the MCCs available to the cardholder.
  • Reports – Agencies have access to management reports via the Internet. The banks provide standard reports and ad hoc reports. These include Account Activity reports, Dispute reports, Unusual Spending Activity reports, Lost/Stolen Cards reports, and miscellaneous Ad Hoc reports.
  • Guidebooks – The banks are required to provide written guides for A/OPCs that include best practices for account setup and maintenance, account suspension/cancellation, disputes, reports, and invoicing procedures. Agencies also have access to account holder guides from banks, which outline authorized uses of the account, disputes, and billing.

Other resources such as “Knowledge:  The Best Protection for Your GSA SmartPay Card” are available for download or print on the website. 

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