GSA’s VPP: Why You Should Care

By Tara Franzonello, GSA Programs Consultant

GSA is beginning Phase I of its Verified Products Portal (VPP), targeting OEMs and wholesalers, with a goal to have the portal up and running in 2021. Why should OEMs, distributors or resellers care? Simple: If you don’t do VPP right, you could cause problems both for you and your supply chain.

The VPP is intended to host authoritative product content — standardized manufacturer names and part numbers, for example – to improve GSA’s supply chain risk management, as well as the customer experience. This information ideally would be provided directly by OEMs, although resellers and distributors can also create VPP profiles.

Besides product specifications, the VPP will accommodate other information such as photos and pricing data. OEMs will be able to use the portal to authorize and deauthorize products and resellers in real-time, which could eliminate the need for resellers to provide letters of supply. 

While the VPP will be optional, OEMs should consider participating. Even without a portal entry, however, OEMs should still pay close attention to product data posted by authorized resellers and distributors.

That’s important, because inaccurate or out-of-date data could create confusion within the OEM’s channel and with GSA. That could mean delays processing GSA Schedule Contract modifications, because it would leave GSA with trying to decide which data is accurate.

For non-OEM entities, GSA is proposing a tiered system. The idea is that information from higher-tier portal entities (likely distributors) will be considered ahead of the lower tiers (likely resellers) if data is conflicting or inconsistent.

For now, however, the criteria for tiering entities other than the OEM is uncertain. In its Terms of Use, GSA says it “reserves the right, at any time, not to use data submissions if a higher tier has submitted conflicting data.” Unfortunately, that could cause confusion in the channel if OEMs do not maintain their own portal entry or monitor entries from resellers and distributors.

There are advantages to VPP for both sides, GSA says. For the GSA, the advantage is more cohesive data across the agency, and a more secure supply chain. For vendors, it could mean that resellers will no longer have to obtain and provide letters of supply, which reduces their administrative burden. The VPP ensures that an OEM’s product is represented accurately.

How should OEMs participate in the VPP? At a minimum, participation means keeping product data up to date, in real time, both on the portal and with resellers and distributors. That alone will reduce the risk of confusion and delay when trying to update the GSA catalog.

For now, participation in VPP is voluntary, although GSA would prefer that OEMs take part. The program is a key component to GSA’s Catalog Management Initiative, and the government’s focus on supply chain security will only become greater.

Consistency across your channel, especially when it comes to identical items, will improve your buyers experience on GSA Advantage and eliminate confusion in the procurement process. Your buyers will be paying attention to this data. So should you!

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To find out more about immixGroup’s GSA MAS contracts, click here.

This is an adaption of a commentary originally published in Washington Technology. The complete original commentary can be found here.

About Tara Franzonello
Tara Franzonello is responsible for management, compliance and negotiations of immixgroup’s GSA Schedule contract as well as management of GSA programs and initiatives. Tara brings twenty years of experience in contract administration and program management in the public sector marketplace and has successfully negotiated GSA schedule contracts as well as state and local contract vehicles. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from Providence College.

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