By: Marissa Sims on May 12th, 2023
GSA's New FAS Catalog Platform to Replace SIP Has Launched
GSA Schedule | 5 Min Read
For GSA contract holders, it is no secret that some of the tools used to manage and maintain contracts are slow and outdated. For example, the layout of the Schedule Input Program (SIP) is difficult to navigate, and catalog information is divided into multiple tabs. Though most find it frustrating, it’s crucial for GSA contractors to use this program to update their contract data and maintain compliance.
After receiving feedback and hearing contractor’s frustrations, GSA started developing solutions to replace some of their existing platforms to modernize the acquisition process. One of the solutions is the FAS Catalog Platform (FCP) which will replace SIP, the Contracting Officer Reporting System (CORS), and the current Price Proposal Template (PPT).
The goal of this platform, which was formerly called the Common Catalog Platform (CCP), will be to streamline catalog management. Now that GSA has launched the FCP pilot, this blog will explore some of the features that the FCP offers and how it will improve catalog management for GSA Schedule contractors.
What is the Schedule Input Program (SIP)?
In order to understand why contractors are eagerly anticipating the CCP to release, we need to first explore the Schedule Input Program (SIP) which contractors currently use to manage their catalogs. The primary function of SIP is to upload catalog and contract data to GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage!. To ensure items on your GSA contract accurately reflect what’s publicly available, an updated catalog file and text file must be uploaded on SIP.
After a modification is awarded, contractors are given up to 30 days to upload that data into SIP. The SIP desktop software is available for download through the Vendor Support Center (VSC). However, some contractors elect to hire a consultant to complete their SIP uploads because they find the program daunting.
Why is the Schedule Input Program (SIP) Being Replaced By the FCP?
A common complaint about the SIP is the lack of modernity. The program does not link to the eMod system to automatically update catalog information efficiently upon award. Instead, the program must be updated manually by revising the SIP catalog files. The issue with this is the countless errors that may come up which are sometimes hard for many to decipher. The design of SIP affects the fluidity that the acquisition process should have. Many contractors have experienced a delay with updated information posting to GSA Advantage! and problems with receiving response files.
GSA has acknowledged these issues and chose CGI Federal Inc. (CGI) to develop the FCP as a program that can streamline the acquisition process. The FCP program will address usability issues, integrate the program with other catalog platforms, and give GSA contractors and Contracting Officers the same platform to view catalog details.
The FAS Catalog Platform (FCP)
Through the improved Application Programming Interface (API) of the FCP, contractors will be able to manage their catalog data more efficiently. After a successful pilot which was launched recently, there will be a phased transition to the FCP. This is anticipated for FY 2024.
This platform will replace SIP and allow vendors to access their list of available contracts, update seller information and create catalog actions to update their products, photos, and terms and conditions. Product files will be submitted via FCP and replace the Products Price Proposal Template (PPT), which we'll discuss below.
Contractors interested in moving to FCP should fill out the FCP transition form to provide key catalog information.
How Will the FCP Work?
The catalog is broken into two pages, the catalog overview, and the seller profile. The seller profile page in the FCP presents a consolidated view, unlike the SIP which has information divided into multiple tabs. The catalog overview screen allows contractors to create new catalog actions to update the catalog. Once these Product Files are uploaded, the FCP will validate the newly inputted data to ensure accuracy.
The FCP will also mitigate catalog discrepancies by giving contractors access to a Compliance and Pricing Report (former 4P report). This will make it easier for contractors to correct highlighted errors before submitting a modification. The Compliance and Pricing Report will also display what percentage of products exceed the market threshold. Through these enhanced features, GSA is optimistic that the FCP will simplify the procurement process and alleviate the burden that comes with catalog management.
Using the Product File
The FCP will use the new Product File to collect catalog information published on GSA Advantage!, making sure all the information matches the awarded contract. The purpose of the Product File is to consolidate, combine, and replace the Products Price Proposal Template (PPT) with the information required for selling products on GSA Advantage!. Right now, this is capture using SIP. GSA has posted a draft of the Product File, but it may go through more changes.
How the FCP Will Integrate with eMod
Arguably, one of the biggest updates to this process is the CCP will integrate with eMod to combine the contract and catalog workflows. Once a contractor is transitioned into the FCP, eMod will have a button that says “Go to FCP” in place of “Upload” where contractors previously uploaded the PPT.
Contractors will then move over to the FCP to submit their Product File. Once it's successfully submitted, eMod will receive a copy of the file for the modification package.
Stay Informed on GSA Updates
GSA released a demo to show how contractors will navigate through the FCP. There has not been an exact date given for the release of the FAS Catalog Platform, but as mentioned before, the pilot has begun in the spring of 2023, and contractors are anticipated to transition over in FY 2024. Nevertheless, contractors should keep a close eye on this new development and stay informed about other initiatives GSA is implementing that will impact your contract.
These changes can be a lot to keep up with and may also be difficult to understand. To stay informed about GSA news and updates, you can subscribe to our blog and our monthly newsletter. If you need help managing your contract or would like to understand more about the FCP, we are here to help you.