GSA SmartPay

Smart Bulletins/ News/ Events

Find out about the latest industry news, GSA SmartPay events, and Smart Bulletins.

Smart Bulletin

The GSA SmartPay Program Office has initiated the GSA SmartPay Smart Bulletins to keep customer agencies and stakeholders informed of new or updated policies, regulations, program management practices, task order administration information, information on master contract changes, and laws relevant to government payment solutions. These bulletins are intended to be a source of other information, providing operational guidance to GSA SmartPay customers.   

Smart Bulletin No. 025 (Record Retention Requirements)

GSA SmartPay2-Record Retention Requirements

Published 09/10/2015

Summary: The National Archives and Record Administration issued  General  Records Schedule Transmittal 23 which added General Records Schedules.  The purpose of this bulletin is to highlight the changes that affect the GSA SmartPay government-wide charge card program.

Smart Bulletin No. 024 (Rewards Program Policy and Guidance)

GSA SmartPay2–Rewards Program Policy and Guidance

Published 08/13/2015

Smart Bulletin No. 023 (Third Party Payment Processors)

GSA SmartPay2 – Third Party Payment Processors

Published 02/10/2015

Smart Bulletin No. 022 (Charge Card Manager Certification (CCMC) Program)

GSA SmartPay2 –Charge Card Manager Certification (CCMC) Program

Published 06/27/2014

Smart Bulletin No. 021 (OMB Memorandum M-13-21)

OMB Memorandum M-13-21 and Charge Card Compliance Summary

Smart Bulletin No. 020 (What You Need to Know About State Taxes)

What You Need to Know About State Taxes

Published 05/13/2013

Smart Bulletin No. 019 ( Tax Exemption Procedures) Tax Exemption Procedures

Published 04/29/2013

Smart Bulletin No. 018 (Visa’s Government and Higher Education Payment Program)

Visa’s Government and Higher Education Payment Program – Updates/Changes

Published 02/06/2013

Smart Bulletin No. 017 (Brands (VISA/MasterCard) to Permit Merchant Surcharges)

Brands (VISA/MasterCard) to Permit Merchant Surcharges

Published 01/17/2013

Smart Bulletin No. 016 (General Excise Taxation of Sales of Tangible Personal Property in Hawaii)

General Excise Taxation of Sales of Tangible Personal Property in Hawaii

Published 08/24/2011

Smart Bulletin No. 015 (Going Green)

GSA SmartPay2 - Going Green

Published 07/06/2011

Smart Bulletin No. 014 (Travel Card for Local Travel)

Non-Department of Defense (DOD) Organization Option to Use Travel Card for Local Travel

Local Travel Management Plan

Published 11/03/2010

Smart Bulletin No. 013 (Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008)

Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008 Final Regulations

Published 9/14/2010

Smart Bulletin No. 012 (Reduction in Convenience Check Usage)

Executive Branch Agency Reduction in Convenience Check Usage

Updated 5/17/2016

Smart Bulletin No. 011 (FSSI)

Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiatives (FSSI) Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs)

FSSI Vendor Information

Updated 03/14/2016

Smart Bulletin No. 010 (Tax Exemption for the Travel Card)

Tax Exemption for the Travel Card

Tax Exemption Quick View

Published 5/04/2010

Smart Bulletin No. 009 (Use of the Purchase and Travel Charge Cards)

Use of the Purchase and Travel Charge Cards

Note: The local travel portion of Smart Bulletin No. 009 has been superseded by Smart Bulletin No. 014

Published 5/20/2009

Smart Bulletin No. 008 (Interchange Rates)

Interchange Rates for Agencies Accepting GSA SmartPay® 2 Charge Cards

Published 4/16/2009

Smart Bulletin No. 007 (Foreign Currency Conversion)

Foreign Currency Conversion

Published 4/3/2009

Smart Bulletin No. 006 (Record Retention)

Record Retention

Published 11/30/2008

Smart Bulletin No. 005 (Dispute Processes)

Dispute Processes Under the GSA SmartPay 2 Master Contract

Published 10/31/2008

Smart Bulletin No. 004 (Prohibition of Signing Bonuses and Lump Sum Incentives)

Prohibition of Signing Bonuses and Lump Sum Incentives

Published 7/24/2007

Smart Bulletin No. 003 (Phone Fraud Scams)

Phone Fraud Scams

Published 3/9/2007

Smart Bulletin No. 002 (Micro-Purchase Limit Increase)

Micro-Purchase Limit Increase

Published 1/18/2007. Updated 11/12/15.

Smart Bulletin No. 001 (The GSA SmartPay program's Smart Bulletin)

The GSA SmartPay program's Smart Bulletin.

Published 1/18/2007

GSA SmartPay News

Find out the latest industry news and how it may affect the GSA SmartPay program.  

Women@NASA - Suzanne Honeycutt

April 7, 2016


Suzanne Honeycutt began working for the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) in March of 2006. Since that time, she has held several positions within the NSSC Procurement Division, but most notably, the Lead program coordinator for the Agency’s Purchase GSA SmartPay Card Program. Click here to hear her story.

In the exciting “Charge Up!” Series

March 15, 2016
Charge Up!
How Do You Fuel & Manage One of the Largest Vehicle Fleets in the World? Simple: With help from the GSA SmartPay® Charge Card and Related Payment Service Program!


Did you know that GSA SmartPay® fleet cards are used by customer agencies to pay for fuel and maintenance on most of the 200,000 vehicles leased from GSA?


Paying to fill up each of the 200,000 vehicles leased by GSA is the most obvious use of a GSA SmartPay fleet card, but these cards also provide powerful capabilities that help the U.S. government better manage complex and far-reaching programs.  Charge card commercial transaction data provides insight into compliance and utilization of the fleet program, allowing GSA to find ways to improve future services!


Fleet card transactions empower GSA and agency fleet managers to: collect and report vehicle mileages from commercial fueling stations, monitor the types of fuel or services being purchased, report completed vehicle preventative maintenance, track volume spent for maintenance and repair, detect fraud and misuse through velocity monitoring and transaction review, and identify customer driving behaviors that may allow them to save money through better vehicle utilization!  


In addition, the GSA SmartPay fleet card offers significant savings, including refunds on every transaction, the ability to collect back fuel taxes from participating states, and a dispute functionality that lets GSA to take immediate action on questionable charges.  These savings allow GSA Fleet to offer full service leasing and professional fleet management services (including acquiring, operating and disposing of vehicles) to federal agencies – while keeping rates 50% below comparable commercial lease rates.


These tools and related internal controls and data are built into the GSA SmartPay program and provided at no up-front cost, allowing customers to easily leverage streamlined commercial payment processes to conduct the government’s business.   


Scam du jour: Chip card scams

October 19, 2015

October 19, 2015
by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Recently, I told you about the new credit and debt chip cards designed to reduce fraud, including counterfeiting.

Now, I'm reporting on scammers who are trying to take advantage of the millions of consumers who haven't yet received a chip card.

Here's what’s happening: Scammers are emailing people, posing as their card issuer. The scammers claim that in order to issue a new chip card, you need to update your account by confirming some personal information or clicking on a link to continue the process.

If you reply to the email with personal information, the scammer can use it to commit identity theft. If you click on the link, you may unknowingly install malware on your device. Malware programs can cause your device to crash, monitor your online activity, send spam, steal personal information and commit fraud.

So how can you tell if the email is from a scammer?

There's no reason your card issuer needs to contact you by email — or by phone, for that matter — to confirm personal information before sending you a new chip card. Don't respond to an email or phone call that asks you to provide your card number. Period.
Still not sure if the email is a scam? Contact your card issuers at the phone numbers on your cards.
Don't trust links in emails. Only provide personal information through a company's website if you typed in the web address yourself and you see signals that the site is secure, like a URL that begins https (the "s" stands for secure).
To learn more about protecting your personal information, check out Privacy & Identity.

For full article, please go to:

Did You Know Acquisition-related Thresholds are Changing?

September 30, 2015

GSA, along with DoD and NASA, issued a final rule effective October 1, 2015, to implement the inflation adjustments for acquisition-related dollar thresholds. Section 807 of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (Pub. L. 1 08-375) requires an adjustment every five years of acquisition-related thresholds for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.

This inflation adjustment impacts all urban consumers, except for the Construction Wage Rate Requirements statute (formerly Davis-Bacon Act), Service Contract Labor Standards statute (formerly Service Contract Act), and trade agreements thresholds. GSA, DoD, and NASA have also used the same methodology to adjust nonstatutory FAR acquisition-related thresholds.

Click here to review the full details of all the changes to acquisition-related thresholds on 

October 9, 2015
Common Acquisition-Related Dollar Thresholds Threshold Adjustment Effective 10/01/2015
Micro-purchase base threshold (FAR 2.101) $3,500 (currently $3,000)
Simplified Acquisition Threshold (FAR 2.101) $150,000 (unchanged)
FedBizOpps pre-award adn post-award notifications (FAR Part 5) $25,000 (unchanged due to trade agreements)
Use of simplified acquisition procedures for acquisition of commercial items (FAR 13.500) $7M (currently $6.5M)
Cost or pricing data threshold (FAR 15.403-4) and the statutorily equivalent Cost Accounting Standard threshold $750,000 (currently $700,000)
The prime contractor subcontracting plan (FAR 19.702) floor $700,000 (currently $650,000)
The prime contractor subcontracting plan (FAR 19.702) floor - Construction Threshold $150,000 (unchanged)
Threshold for reporting first-tier subcontract information including executive compensation (FAR subpart 4.14 and section 52.204-10) $30,000 (currently $25,000)

EMV in the U.S.: Putting It into Perspective for Merchants and Financial Institutions

July 30, 2015

For almost two decades, interest in EMV1 barely reached a simmer in the United States. Recently several card associations stirred the pot and now interest in the smart chip standard is heating up among almost every player in the electronic payments value chain. Financial institutions, merchants, acquirers/processors, card brands, and hardware and software vendors all want to understand the current state of EMV in the U.S. Is it finally time to take a seat at the implementation table, a table at which much of the world has been sitting for several years?

The term “EMV” refers to a specification for the technical requirements of chip-enabled payment devices, generally credit and debit payment cards with embedded icrochips, and how the cards interact with point-of-sale and ATM infrastructures. There are many “flavors” of a chip-based payment standard, including using chip + PIN only or chip + choice (the option of using either PIN or signature) as cardholder verification tools; the majority of EMV implementations globally have focused on chip + PIN enablement. Whatever the format, smart chips are the basis of the technical standard behind more than 1.24 billion payment cards and 15.4 million POS terminals,3 with almost all of those cards and acceptance devices residing outside the United States. Europe, Canada, Latin America and Asia/Pacific are all in various stages of EMV chip migration and usage, leaving the U.S. region—the largest user of payment cards in the world—as the last major hold-out for implementing the otherwise global standard.

Payment industry experts generally agree that a chip-based standard will come to the U.S., but the predictions of when and in what form vary dramatically. While pundits have been saying the U.S. is far from ready for it, there is a distinct possibility that the change may come sooner rather than later.

Visa’s recently-announced roadmap for an accelerated migration to EMV is a prod (more information about the plan is included later in this paper), but it’s not the guiding impetus bringing about the current evaluation in the U.S. Oddly enough, the major factor that could push our industry toward EMV is recent legislation that had little to do with smart cards. In the wake of the Durbin Amendment and banks’ dramatic loss of interchange revenue, every dollar lost to fraud now looms large. Aite Group reports that card fraud in the U.S. already costs the card payment industry (primarily issuers) $8.6 billion4,5 a year and industry experts are concerned losses will rise as fraud migrates to the U.S. from smart cardenabled countries. Perhaps now more than ever, banks have good reason to evaluate the extent to which embedded smart chips can reduce their losses from card fraud. 

FINAL RULE: FAC 2005-83/FAR Case 2014-022 Increase in the Micro-purchase Threshold

July 13, 2015

Attached is a copy of the final rule (FAC 2005–83/FAR Case 2014–022) published in the Federal Register on July 2, 2105.  This final rule, among other things, raises the micro-purchase threshold to $3,500 effective October 1, 2015. Please consider whether or not your agency will be adjusting purchase cardholder transaction limits, based on business needs, once this increase becomes effective. 

SSA Gets Rare Positive Review on Charge Cards

June 12, 2015

More in: Federal Manager's Daily Report

Amid a continuing stream of audit reports finding wasteful and inappropriate use of government-issued charge cards, one agency receiving a generally positive review in an IG audit was SSA.

“Generally, SSA complied with its travel charge card policies and procedures. For example, travel advances for employees were appropriate, relocated employees’ expenses were allowable” and employees’ credit limits generally were reduced to nominal amounts when there was no activity, it said.

Instances of noncompliance were relatively few and for small amounts. These included 234 employees who separated but who retained travel charge cards, although there were no charges on those cards; four who incurred travel costs totaling $1,600 that they charged to other cards rather than to the official travel card as required, potentially costing the agency value in rebates; five cases of authorizations not being approved before employees left on travel; and questions about whether 14 employees received training in use of the cards as required by agency policy.

In addition, seven cardholders made unauthorized ATM withdrawals or used the card to make unauthorized purchases, mostly for meals outside their approved travel periods, that totaled less than $1,000; the employees did not claim those charges on their travel vouchers.

Auditors said the agency was responsive to their recommendations, including by canceling the cards still in the hands of former employees.

White House Responds to Huge Hack of Federal Employee Data

June 5, 2015

By Priscilla Alvarez.  National Journal.  June 5, 2015
Computer hacks that expose the personal information of about four million people are, objectively, pretty bad. The White House knows this, and said Friday that officials are investigating a breach that was revealed this week.
The risk to computers posed by hackers, however, is "not news," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
"The simple fact is that the threat we are facing is ever-evolving and that means that our defenses need to be ever evolving," he said. "So, to say that our computer systems in the federal government are at risk is not news."
He added: "We understand that there is a persistent risk out there. This is a risk, by the way, that's shared by the private sector."
The Office of Personnel Management said in a statement Thursday that a breach of its computer systems was detected in April and may have compromised the information of at least four million current and former federal employees. The intrusion occurred in December. OPM storespersonal information, such as addresses and Social Security numbers, and general employee information, including performance ratings.
According to media reports, federal authorities believe China is behind the cyberattack, marking the second intrusion into the government agency by Chinese hackers over the past year. A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry called the allegation "irresponsible."
Earnest did not say on Friday who was behind the cyberattack.
"I can't get into any conclusion that has been reached about who or what country may be responsible for this particular incident," he said.
Earnest faulted Congress for not advancing cybersecurity legislation. Last month, the Housepassed legislation that seeks to expand information sharing of cyberthreat data between the government and the private sector. The Senate has not voted on the measure.
"We need Congress to come out of the dark ages and join us in the 21st century to make sure we have the kinds of defenses necessary to protect a modern computer system," Earnest said.
OPM said Thursday that it will notify those whose information may have been compromised. The agency is offering credit monitoring services to employees to "mitigate the risk of fraud and identity theft."
The FBI is investigating the hack. "We take all potential threats to public- and private-sector systems seriously and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace," said FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell on Thursday.

GSA Preps Next Iteration Of Federal Payment Card Program

March 24, 2015

GSA Preps Next Iteration Of Federal Payment Card Program By JoAnn DeLuna

March 23, 2015

Supplier contracts for the U.S. General Services Administration's SmartPay card program—which spans purchase, travel, fleet and integrated charge cards and related payment solutions for more than 350 agencies—don't expire until November 2018. But considering the massive program's implementation time, GSA's SmartPay team recently began to explore the features the next set of contracts will require.

Total SmartPay card spend for GSA's 2014 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2014, was $26.4 billion, up slightly from $26 billion the previous year. Specifically, the 2.4 million travel cardholders spent $7 billion, the second-highest SmartPay card spending category after purchase cards ($17.1 billion). Since the initial implementation of the GSA SmartPay program in the late 1990s, GSA has earned $2.75 billion in rebates, according to David Shea, director of the office of charge card management for GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, including more than $240 million in its 2014 fiscal year alone.

GSA's current SmartPay 2 contracts with Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bank were signed in 2007 and became operational in 2008. Shea said it's now time to look into new options, a process he called a "recompete."

It starts with a request for proposals to determine which banks receive the master contracts. Shea compared it to a hunting license, "as [the banks] are then authorized to pursue business with individual agencies."

GSA purposely diversifies its card-supplier roster. "When you look at all the different missions the government performs, would you really want to put all your eggs in one basket?" Shea asked. "Or would you want multiple means of support and further leverage additional layers of competition across the process?"

Given the size of GSA's program—3.29 million cardholders and 84.7 million transactions in 2014—having three card issuers "makes a lot of sense," he said.

During the 18-month period after bank suppliers are selected, a time GSA calls the "transitional performance period," individual government agencies issue task orders for which suppliers compete further. Agencies then select providers, which then set up logistics like issuing cards and interfacing billing to the ledger system. "That takes time," Shea said. The "transactional period" follows and lasts 10 years.

Currently, Citibank has the largest portfolio, largely because it won the Department of Defense's large travel contract, according to Shea. "Which bank wins which agency depends on how the agency assesses the program."

Keeping Up With Evolution

GSA in December took a preliminary step in its "recompete," issuing a request for information. New consumer payment methods, increased security and data requirements and new players that have entered the payment industry since GSA awarded the SmartPay 2 master contracts, and the agency also hopes to learn more about new technologies like mobile payment, electronic wallets, digital currency and advances in data collection and analytics.

Following the close of the RFI on Jan. 20, Shea said, GSA would continue to research the market. "The RFI is just one part of it," he said. "What we really want to do is dialogue with the industry about the best commercial processes, products and services available."

The White House, during its February Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, approved the use of Apple Pay for federal payment cards, including GSA SmartPay cards. While Apple Pay is not yet available for corporate card use, a GSA spokesperson said that if "one of our GSA SmartPay contractor banks chooses to make available new payment features or capabilities, we will consider them."


The federal government requires GSA to comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act, which ensures cybersecurity. Additionally, President Barack Obama's October 2014 executive order to improve the security of consumer transactions requires GSA to transition payment cards to chip-and-PIN cards. GSA in January announced it expected to issue more than 1 million this year.

As is the case for many corporations, finding the right balance among ease of use, security, merchant acceptance, data and transparency challenges GSA, as does the continually evolving payment landscape, which requires constant monitoring to decipher what can be adapted to "the government context," said Shea.

"Even though these are commercial contracts, we have some measure of government-specific requirements we have to meet because we are the government and we do a lot of things differently," he said.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Federal Government Shutdown

GSA SmartPay Charge Card Program

What does the GSA SmartPay 2 Master Contract say about a shutdown?
Each year, Congress must pass appropriation bills that provide legal authority to spend or obligate U.S. Treasury Funds.  The bills must then be signed into law by the President or become law through a Congressional override of a Presidential veto.  It is possible that all of the appropriation bills will not be completed in time for the start of any given fiscal year.  A continuing resolution is usually passed to allow the Government to continue to function; however, in recent years, the Government has been required to “shutdown” nonessential functions.  In the event of a government-wide shutdown, payment to the Contractor would be late for most accounts; however, all centrally billed accounts would be paid with Prompt Payment Act interest upon a budget passing.  The Contractor shall not deactivate any account in this situation unless otherwise notified by GSA or the agency/organization.  
Can I still use my card?
Yes; the GSA SmartPay® 2 banks will continue to function as normal when there is a Government shutdown and purchase, travel, fleet and integrated cards will continue to function normally, absent any agency-specific action to disable the cards.  Cardholders are reminded to check with their agency regarding continued use of cards due to appropriation limitations in place during shutdown.  You may not be authorized to use your card if your agency has determined you are not an excepted employee during the shutdown.  Please Note:  The Anti-Deficiency Act prohibits most agencies from incurring obligations in the absence of appropriations (unless otherwise allowed by law or for emergencies involving the safety of life or limb, the protection of property, or other excepted services).   Please coordinate with the appropriate officials in your agency to ensure only appropriate purchases are made and payments are issued in the event of a shutdown, as this issue can become quite complicated given the wide variety of agency missions, funding types, etc.
Will the banks’ 1-800 customer service call centers continue to operate?
Yes, if you need to reach the bank during the shutdown, please call the 1-800 number on the back of your GSA SmartPay charge card.
Do I still have to pay my individually billed travel card bill?
The answer to this question depends on which contractor bank services your GSA SmartPay charge card account(s).
In the event of a Government-wide shutdown, many Agencies/Organizations and Cardholders may be unable to make payments. Citibank will ensure that during such periods accounts will not age delinquent or be suspended or cancelled.  During this time finance charges will not be assessed; however, Statements of Account will continue to be generated.
JP Morgan will work with individual cardholders on a case-by-case basis in the event of government-wide shutdown to address hardships caused by this event.  Standard processes, including account aging, and assessment of late fees and finance charges would remain in force unless it is determined by the bank that an individual cardholder has experienced a hardship caused by the shutdown.
U.S. Bank will not deactivate any account without authorization from the GSA Contracting Officer.  U.S. Bank understands that accounts could become past due until budgetary issues are resolved.  Once the budget is approved, we will work with the Government to bring past due accounts up to date.  U.S. Bank will also work with the Government to implement risk mitigation measures to monitor fraud and unusual delinquencies in the event of a Government-wide shutdown. 
If I am late paying due to the shut-down, will my card become delinquent?
Please see the answers to the question above as each bank will treat delinquency differently.
What if my card is already delinquent; will I be given more time to pay?  
No.  Payment is due to the contractor bank per the statement due date.  If your account is delinquent prior to the shutdown, it will continue to be considered to be delinquent until full payment is made to the contractor bank.  The time elapsed after payment is due does not stop accruing in the event of a government shutdown.
My card is about to expire.  Will I receive my new card during a shut-down?
Yes.  In accordance with the terms of the GSA SmartPay master contract, if your card is due to expire during a government shut-down, your new card will still be mailed out. If your agency elects to have the charge cards sent directly to you (for example, an individually billed travel card) then you will receive the card at the address on file.  If on the other hand, your agency has elected to have the cards mailed to the government offices for dissemination by an Agency/Organization Program Coordinator or other government employee, then your card will be mailed by the bank but most likely be held by the distributing government office until the shut-down is over.  If you are deemed an excepted employee, your agency will most likely deliver the card to you, but confirm card delivery procedures with the appropriate officials in your management chain prior to the start of the shutdown period.
What if I am on travel during a shutdown?
Unless your agency takes action to disable travel cards, your card will continue to work if you are on travel during a government shut-down.  However, there are rules related to employees on travel during a shut-down, so please check with your agency regarding what actions are required while traveling during a shut-down.
What if I have recurring or automatic payments on my purchase card?
Please coordinate with your agency/organization finance officials and Agency/Organization Program Coordinator to ensure that these payments are properly dispositioned in the event of a shutdown. While it is likely a shutdown will be brief in duration, be advised that purchase cardholders may need to contact merchants to stop any automatic payments which may be scheduled to occur during the shutdown period.
 Note:  The Anti-deficiency Act prohibits most agencies from incurring obligations in the absence of appropriations (unless otherwise allowed by law or for emergencies involving the safety of life or limb, the protection of property, or other excepted services).   Again, please coordinate with the appropriate officials as needed to ensure only appropriate purchases are made and payments are issued in the event of a shutdown, as this issue can become quite complicated.  


How can I reach the Office of Charge Card Management during a shutdown?
Of course; please contact us through our central phone line at (703) 605-2808, or e-mail box:

GSA SmartPay Program Begins Roll Out of Secure, Chip & PIN Charge Cards

January 21, 2015

January 21, 2015

For Immediate Release:
January 21, 2015

GSA SmartPay Program Begins Roll Out of Secure, Chip & PIN Charge Cards

WASHINGTON, DC –– The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) SmartPayⓇ Program will begin issuing Chip & PIN enabled charge cards in January.  The roll out of these cards with enhanced security features is a result of an Executive Order for Improving the Security of Consumer Financial Transactions, signed by the President on October 17, 2014. 

This Executive Order calls for the nationwide privacy and confidentiality protection of consumer data and transactions.  It further requires the U.S. Government’s credit, debit, and other payment card programs, including GSA SmartPay, to take the lead in strengthening the security of financial transactions and encourages the adoption of enhanced safeguards through the use of technology like Chip and PIN enabled cards and transaction terminals.

In January 2015, the GSA SmartPay program will begin rolling out Chip & PIN enabled charge cards to its purchase, travel, integrated, and some fleet card users.

GSA’s Federal Acquisition Services (FAS) Commissioner Tom Sharpe weighs in
"GSA’s government-wide SmartPay program is an extremely effective and successful payment solution that has proven to provide streamlined and secure ability for the government to conduct every-day business transactions.  By working with our industry partners on the addition of Chip & PIN technology to GSA SmartPay cards,  FAS is quickly and efficiently providing greater security and even more value to the payment products and services we offer our government agency customers."

Quick Facts:

  • The roll out of Chip & PIN cards begins in January 2015 with more than 1 million charge cards expected to be issued throughout the calendar year
  • Dynamic Data Authentication (DDA) standards for chip technologies will be used by all 3 contractor banks
  • Not all merchants will be Chip & PIN ready in 2015, but the cards will still work with merchants that do not have Chip & PIN terminals
  • Cardholders who receive their new Chip & PIN enabled card should cut up or shred their existing card and only use the new Chip & PIN enabled card

Next Steps:
To learn more about the Chip and PIN (EMV) enabled charge cards click here. 

GSA Looks to Commercial Sector for New Federal Payment Systems

January 18, 2015
By Mohana Ravindranath

Consumers may one day rely less on traditional magnetic-strip credit cards as technology companies and banks introduce new, potentially more secure payment methods — such as tapping smartphones at the register to make payments, or using credit cards with embedded chips that are scanned, not swiped.

Soon, the federal government could take cues from the commercial sector as it tries to improve the way employees make official charges for hotels, airfare, car rentals, and other purchases or services.

The General Services Administration has issued a request for information on cutting-edge payment systems, including smartphone and tablet-based methods, so-called contactless credit cards that do not need to be swiped, cardless charge accounts, apps such as Google Wallet and digital currency such as bitcoin. Newer systems could be more secure and protect against fraud, and they also could allow the GSA to track government payment patterns in aggregate, according to Dave Shea, director of the GSA’s Office of Charge Card Management.

The requested information — due Thursday — seeks to update the agency on payment technologies that have emerged since the GSA awarded contracts in 2008 to Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bank. Since then, “the industry has seen many changes in the way consumers and commercial entities make payments,” Shea said in a statement.

An executive order signed by President Obama in October directed the GSA to take steps by Jan. 1 to update its SmartPay system — which accounts for all GSA-issued charge cards — and mandated that the new payment technology have enhanced security features.

In the 2014 fiscal year, purchases through the system amounted to $26 billion, with spending by about 350 federal agencies, organizations and Native American tribes and a total of 3.29 million card holders.

The request for information precedes a formal request for proposals planned for 2016, with the awarding of contracts slated for 2017. Current contracts are set to expire in November 2018.


For full article, go to:

GSA: What's new in payment cards?

December 10, 2014

The General Services Administration is preparing for a third generation of its SmartPay program and is asking industry about current best practices for payment and charge cards.

The program currently serves some 350 agencies and organizations in managing payment cards for purchasing office supplies, travel accommodations and fleet transactions. Agencies spent approximately $26 billion in 2014 using cards, saving $1.7 billion compared to the cost of submitting paper purchase orders.

The request for information – posted Dec. 9 – is probing to determine what is new in the payment card industry, particularly related to cost savings and security.


Agencies must improve payment card security by year end

How agencies should prepare for charge card law

Postal employees used charge cards for personal bills

“Through the RFI GSA is looking for recommendations about the future of the payments industry, solutions to continue to reduce waste, fraud and abuse, security of payment tools, how to maximize data, and innovative payments solutions in the commercial space,” the agency said in a release.

Responses are due Jan. 22.

GSA expects to compete SmartPay 3 during fiscal 2016 before the current contracts expire in November 2018.

"GSA’s governmentwide SmartPay program is an extremely effective and successful payment solution that has proven to streamline the business of conducting every-day transactions for federal agencies,” said Tom Sharpe, Federal Acquisition Services commissioner. “FAS is looking forward to adding even more value to the payment products and services we offer our government agency customers by working with our industry partners to evolve this program to an even higher level of performance and support."

For more information, please go to:



The Office of Charge Card Management hosts both in-person and virtual training events that will benefit:

  • Agency/Organization Program Coordinators (A/OPCs),
  • Financial managers,
  • Approving officials,
  • Billing officials, and
  • Others who help manage their agency's GSA SmartPay program.

Training will be provided by GSA, GSA Contractor Banks, and other GSA authorized organizations.



2016 GSA SmartPay Training Forum

August 3, 2016
Registration is open!

Registration is open!

The 2016 GSA SmartPay Training Forum will be held:

August 3-5, 2016
8AM - 4:40PM

Marriott Marquis
901 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Closest metro station:  Mt Vernon Sq, 7th Street -Convention Center (Yellow Line)


The Forum will provide training by GSA, GSA Contractor Banks, and other GSA authorized organizations.

Registration is open!  To register, please go to:


2016 MasterCard Public Sector Federal Workshop

June 21, 2016
Save the Date!

We are excited to announce that MasterCard’s 2016 Public Sector Federal Workshop will be held the afternoon of Tuesday, June 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. 

This event, focused on the Federal market, will bring together public sector leaders from across the payments industry to help shape leading payment solutions and practices

We know that many of you had planned to attend the Public Sector Forum in January, but unfortunately, we had to cancel due to the snowstorm that hit the East Coast. We are hoping that you can join us on this new date, and for those of you who were unable to make the original meeting, we hope the new dates allow for you to participate.

An invitation with a link to register will be posted soon! 

2016 Visa Government Forum

April 20, 2016
17th Annual Visa Government Forum

Please join us for the 17th annual Visa Government Forum, Wednesday April 20th, at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington D.C.

This year’s event will be focused on the work done in the risk areas to protect transactions data and reduce the risk of fraud, particularly in online environments. We will also have presentations from GSA and from staff members of Congressional Payments Caucus as well as an update on new commercial card features and products.

To register for the event or if you have any questions, please contact Scott Duplechain at

See you at the Visa Government Forum!

Program Coordinator Spotlight

GSA SmartPay is designed to provide a wide range of payment products to customer organizations, not just the highly successful purchase, travel, fleet and integrated cards for which the program is best known. The Office of Charge Card Management therefore wants to encourage and support agencies that use the program in new ways to support delivery of their mission, while reducing costs and increasing transparency and accountability while enhancing internal controls.

--from David Shea, Director of the Office of Charge Card Management

Social Security Administration - Kevin Kulesa

Social Security Administration - Kevin Kulesa
Kevin Kulesa - SSA

Kevin Kulesa

Division Director, Division of Travel Services
Lead Contracting Officer’s Representative, SmartPay 2 Contract (Travel Card) 
Social Security Administration (SSA)  
12 Year Veteran of the GSA SmartPay Program (Level 1 A/OPC)

Describe some of your responsibilities related to the GSA SmartPay program.

While I was the Lead APC (Agency Program Coordinator), I managed every aspect of the program - processing applications, establishing and monitoring internal controls regarding timely payment of and the proper usage of the travel card, providing reports to management and to OMB, and tracking agency rebates.  I also provided customer service to cardholders by answering questions, adjusting credit limits as necessary and closing cards.

In my current role as Division Director, I trained the current Lead and Level 1 APCs.  I also provide informal guidance and formal leadership when issues occur. 

How does your agency/organization use the GSA SmartPay program to accomplish its mission?

We use the travel card as the primary way for employees to pay for approved travel expenses.  We have always made it mandatory that employees obtain a travel card prior to going on travel regardless of how many times a year they travel.  We also encourage its use for local travel.  Employees can concentrate much more on their work when they do not have to worry about incurring expenses on their own personal card or applying for a paper travel advance.      

What do you see as the major benefits of the GSA SmartPay program?

One of the major benefits is the peace of mind it gives cardholders.  Employees are away from home in often unfamiliar areas.  They are out of their comfort zones and travel can be a hassle.  In a situation like that, one thing they do not need to worry about is how to pay for expenses.  

For SSA, the major benefits are doing away with paper travel advances, the ability to keep track of card activity, and the many reports that give quick information on the program.  Using travel cards is much less of an administrative burden than travel advances.  The technology developed as part of SmartPay makes it much easier to keep track of delinquencies, card usage, and spending patterns within individual SSA components and regions.

What is the most interesting/important way that you’ve seen the GSA SmartPay program used within your agency/organization?

Hurricane SandyWe used the program in a very important way during the recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Some of our employees in the affected areas, especially in New Jersey and New York lost everything- homes, cars, personal property, etc.  We were able to use the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Special Allowances regulations to assist employees in mandatory evacuation zones by providing them with travel cards and temporarily reimbursing some of their expenses. 
OPM’s regulations govern special allowances for travel and subsistence expenses to accommodate evacuated employees, their spouses, and dependents, when affected by disasters.  These payments are at the agency’s discretion.  The Commissioner of Social Security authorized us to reimburse expenses in accord with the regulations.  The travel card was the appropriate payment device since OPM required us to follow the Federal Travel Regulations.  Affected employees used these cards for the necessities of life- temporary housing, food, and transportation.     

For many of these employees, the travel card was the only payment method they had. We received so many heartfelt Thank You notes. Most thanked us for providing them some stability on which they could rebuild their lives.  At times like that, I realize how important this program is.

What’s one fact/piece of information about the GSA SmartPay program that you’d like to share with the general public?

The GSA SmartPay program is a great example of simplifying a government process and reducing waste.  It reduces the administrative costs of running a charge card program.  It also helps agencies to monitor card usage in order to eliminate fraud, waste, and mismanagement.  Finally, it is an incredibly useful tool to help agencies track spending on travel and purchases. 

Agency Savings Spotlight

GSA SmartPay is designed to provide a wide range of payment products to customer organizations, not just the highly successful purchase, travel, fleet and integrated cards for which the program is best known.  The Office of Charge Card Management therefore wants to encourage and support agencies that use the program in new ways to support delivery of their mission, while reducing costs and increasing transparency and accountability while enhancing internal controls.

--from David Shea,
Director of the Office of Charge Card Management

Dept of Energy – Single Use Cards

U.S. Department of Energy

In 2012, the GSA SmartPay Innovation Award* was awarded to the Department of Energy (DOE) for their use of J.P. Morgan's Single-Use Accounts (SUA) electronic payment system that will better track individual purchase orders.

The Innovation Award recognizes customer agency creativity in applying the GSA SmartPay Program to address a broader range of mission support challenges. Each year, the award goes to the organization that submits the most compelling new use of the program's products or services.

The Department of Energy was presented the award for enabling one of their largest contractors, CH2M-WG Idaho, to use the SUA solution to make automated, electronic card payments to its vendors. CH2M-WG will no longer use a general account number for their charges, but rather a unique, one-time use, 16-digit account number that is assigned a credit limit to that payment amount. The account number is active for only a limited period and is electronically matched to a purchase order or contract information with purchasing controls embedded in the system. This allows vendors to receive payment faster, allows for better tracking of payments, and creates increased payment security.

DOE is the first federal agency to successfully implement the use of J.P. Morgan's SUA solution as a method of payment.

*The GSA SmartPay Innovation Award was created in 2009 to encourage new and innovative applications of the GSA SmartPay Program throughout the charge card community and was awarded annually. The goal of the award was to share best practices and lessons learned about how agencies were using carded and cardless solutions and products to address mission critical and operational challenges.

Department of State – Payment Cards

Department of StatePayment Card
Department of State


Innovative Solution Description

In 2011, the GSA SmartPay Innovation Award* was awarded to the Department of State for the Department of State Payment Card that was implemented in 2008 as a supplemental program under its GSA SmartPay Purchase Card Program.  The Payment Card is a non-point of sale product, used for recurring supplies and services, such as courier services, domestic and overseas utilities, copier and general purpose paper needs and telecommunications.

Enhancing Value and Delivering Impact to Agency

The immediate goal was to decrease the quantity of paper invoices and processing times, reduce payment delinquencies, and streamline payment processes for recurring products and services.  Payment Card features include restricting use to specific recurring products or services and maximizing use of online vendor payments.

Since implementation, the Department of State avoided more than $12.8 million in paper invoice transactions.  Payment Cards have also allowed international end users to meet short payment credit terms, as required by some overseas utility vendors.  This has eliminated late payment and delinquencies, resulting in substantial increase in user and vendor satisfaction.

Payment Cards have also allowed end users to maximize use of vendor online systems.  Available information has significantly improved the ability of Department of State end users to manage Embassy properties, monitor trends, identify high energy users, reasons for high energy usage, and take immediate remedial actions.

Implementation Support

The GSA SmartPay contract bank has supported the implementation of the Department of State Payment Card program by making ongoing custom and static reports available through the bank's electronic acceptance system website.  The bank also helped monitor Payment Card transactions and provided specific Payment Card training in Department of State-sponsored training workshops.

*The GSA SmartPay Innovation Award was created in 2009 to encourage new and innovative applications of the GSA SmartPay Program throughout the charge card community and was awarded annually. The goal of the award was to share best practices and lessons learned about how agencies were using carded and cardless solutions and products to address mission critical and operational challenges.

HHS – Declining Balance Cards

Department of Health and Human Services

Innovative Solution Description

The 2010 GSA SmartPay Innovation Award* was awarded to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for its implementation of the GO!card™ under the GSA SmartPay® Charge Card Program.The GO! card is a declining balance solution for HHS's transit subsidy program, which replaced a traditional paper check system for Federal government employees receiving transit benefits. The GO!card program is currently yielding an average of 15 percent in cost savings through budgeting and administrative process efficiencies.

Enhancing Value and Delivering Impact to Agency

A number of cost avoidance mechanisms have been integrated in the GO! card program, designed to reduce operational costs. Participants automatically receive subsidy benefits loaded directly onto the card, eliminating the need for manual distribution, vouchering, and administration processes. Additionally, because of digital processes inherent with the SmartPay2® system, HHS has the ability to reconcile transactions quickly and submit payment to banks within 10 days of transaction.

Prior to the implementation of the GO!card, HHS issued non-refundable paper fare media to employees. Nearly all unused funds were lost at the end of each month. However, with the GO!card, HHS has the ability to monitor actual spend, allowing card managers to lower subsidy amounts if the full amount is not regularly not used, thereby avoiding forfeiture of fare media and reducing operational costs by 25% or more.

The GO!card program has also enhanced internal controls and reporting; to mitigate the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse, HHS blocks all non-transit merchant category codes, eliminating the potential misuse of the card. Additionally, through establishing a data warehouse, the GO!card supports a robust data mining system for monitoring each transaction, and even for ad hoc reporting, providing card managers with complete internal controls to monitor the use of the card and to prevent misuse.

For HHS, the GO!card has done more than just automate offline processes. In support of Federal greening and sustainability initiatives, the GO! card has substantially reduced the amount of paper issued and paperwork associated with administering transit subsidy benefits. Not only has this helped reduce administrative costs, the GO!card! has reduced the amount of paper filed by more than 40,000 pieces a year!

Implementation Support

Managing the HHS transition from a paper media program to the GO!card required substantial support and training. With more than 1,800 successful public card program implementations, the GSA SmartPay contractor bank was ready to meet the challenge. As HHS was already utilizing services under the GSA SmartPay 2 master contract, HHS experienced a smooth transition to the GO!card program. Before, during, and after the transition, the GSA SmartPay contractor bank provided dedicated customer support, ensuring seamless, on time delivery of the new service.

*The GSA SmartPay Innovation Award was created in 2009 to encourage new and innovative applications of the GSA SmartPay Program throughout the charge card community and was awarded annually. The goal of the award was to share best practices and lessons learned about how agencies were using carded and cardless solutions and products to address mission critical and operational challenges.

Department of Commerce – Virtual Payment Cards

The Department of Commerce (DOC) implemented its Department Virtual Payment Cards, which allows DOC to pay UPS orders via GSA’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Document Delivery Service BPA. This innovative solution improves operational efficiencies, reduces administrative costs and allows DOC to earn additional refunds.


GSA SmartPay Radio Ad

GSA SmartPay Radio Ad (MP3) (Published 11/07/11)

Update on GSA's SmartPay Program: Federal News Radio Interview with David Shea

The Realities of Federal Plastic: Federal News Radio Interview with David Shea

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