GSA unveils eOffer

New program cuts paperwork, time for getting schedules

Donald Heffernan

When Richard Stanton filed an application for his company's first General Services Administration schedule last month, he did it electronically and became one of the first to use GSA's new eOffer program, which lets contractors apply online for IT Schedule 70.

Stanton, an owner of Digital Visual Display Technologies Inc. in Atlanta, said eOffer cut the Schedule 70 application preparation process by at least half.

He was halfway through the two-inch-thick paper schedule application when he learned about eOffer and abandoned the paper process.

With the paper process, "it's very difficult to make sure you fill out everything properly because there is so much small print," Stanton said. "EOffer breaks it down into easy-to-follow steps, so you know exactly what to do. If you aren't sure what you are supposed to do, there are links to find out more information."

EOffer also lets contractors respond to solicitations online; a related new application, called EMod, lets all GSA schedule vendors modify their schedule contracts online to add new or upgraded products or services.

EOffer went online May 17, although GSA this month announced its availability. EOffer and eMod are available at www.eoffer.gsa.gov.

Additional GSA schedule applications will be added to eOffer later this year, according to GSA spokeswoman Mary Alice Johnson.

By the end of 2004, GSA officials hope to have the professional engineering, financial and business solutions, and advertising and media schedules added to eOffer.

The remaining GSA schedules will likely be added to eOffer by early 2006, Johnson said.

Convenient for contractors, eOffer also lightens GSA's workload. Until now, vendors have mailed their Schedule 70 applications and proposals to the agency, where contracting officers would manually enter the data, sometimes introducing errors in the process. Contracting officers then mailed the revised documents back to the vendors.

Now, a schedule application submitted electronically is automatically assigned to a GSA contracting officer, who reviews the application and returns an Adobe Portable Document Format version to the vendor for approval.

The vendor signs the PDF version with a digital certificate, creating an encrypted hash mark to verify authenticity of the document and the signer. The contracting officer also electronically signs the contract, said Donald Heffernan, chief information officer of GSA's Federal Supply Service.

Stanton said he expects eOffer and Schedule 70 will let his 10-person company dramatically increase its federal sales. The company now does about $500,000 in annual sales to the federal government, he said.

"It looks very exciting; I think it should work very well," Stanton said. "If you are a federal employee and you want to buy a plasma display [through eOffer], it's easy to find out who the vendors are and send a request for quote to them. We would respond immediately."

Government Computer News Staff Writer Jason Miller contributed to this story. Staff Writer Gail Repsher Emery can be reached at gemery@postnewsweektech.com.

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