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National Contract Service FAQs

  1. Are any of the National Contracts or Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) awarded by National Contract Service available through GSA Advantage?

  2. Who is eligible to use National Contract Service’s National Contracts or BPAs?

  3. Where can I get a complete list of contracts for the various programs?

  4. How do I become a product supplier under the medical/surgical prime vendor program?

  5. Can I be a medical/surgical prime vendor if I have a limited number of product lines?

  6. As a Federal Government product supplier contractor, what criteria must I meet with prime vendors before my products are ordered by facilities through the medical/surgical prime vendor program?

  7. Am I required to deal with all the medical/surgical prime vendors under the program, or can I pick the prime vendor(s)?

  8. Do I have to provide my Federal Government contract prices directly to medical/surgical prime vendors?

  9. How do I get my company’s product on a VA standardized National Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA)?

  10. Does my company have to have a FSS contract to be awarded a National BPA?

  11. How do the Clinical User Groups identify items for standardization?

  12. Once an item is standardized how long is the BPA good for?

  13. nce a company is awarded a standardized National BPA for an item, are VA facilities allowed to buy that item from any other company?

  14. What is the difference between a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), a Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) and a National Contract?

  15. What is the AbilityOne Program?

  16. Where can I get the list of VA PPV participants?

  17. How are pharmaceutical prices being communicated to McKesson?

  18. Are Tribal and Urban Indian Health facilities eligible to participate in the VA PPV program?

  19. Are 340B prices available through the PPV program?

  20. How can a State Veterans Home (SVH) participate in the VA PPV program?

  21. What are SVH “Options” 1 and 2 as it relates to the PPV program and PPV eligibility website?

  22. Do all SVH’s nationwide participate in the PPV program?

  23. What are the methods of payment under the PPV program?


1.  Are any of the National Contracts or Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) awarded by National Contract Service available through GSA Advantage?

No, none of our contracts or BPAs are available via GSA Advantage.  We have other processes that are used for placing orders.  Please visit our website for more detailed information on each program.

2.  Who is eligible to use National Contract Service’s National Contracts or BPAs?

The answer to this varies by Branch and subsection within National Contract Service. For the Medical/Surgical Branch, the vast majority of current eligible customers are VA only.  We are doing some limited joint contracts with the Department of Defense.  For the Pharmaceutical & Specialties Branch, the majority of current eligible customers are VA and DoD.  Many of these contracts include Other Government Agencies such as Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Prisons.  For the Direct Delivery Section, the eligibility is restricted to Federal agencies only (no state or local government agencies).

3.  Where can I get a complete list of contracts for the various programs?

Please visit our Contract Catalog Search Tool to access detailed contact information.

4.  How do I become a product supplier under the medical/surgical prime vendor program?

Since the majority of the products under the prime vendor program are established by existing Federal Supply Schedule contracts, you are encouraged to obtain a FSS contract.  Please refer to the FSS section of this webpage for informationon the FSS program.

5.  Can I be a medical/surgical prime vendor if I have a limited number of product lines?

Prime vendors are required to inventory and to provide the breadth and depth of products required by customers to support customers’ everyday operations.  Companies with limited product lines do not qualify as prime vendors.

6.  As a Federal Government product supplier contractor, what criteria must I meet with prime vendors before my products are ordered by facilities through the medical/surgical prime vendor program?

First, facilities must identify the need for your products to their respective prime vendor before prime vendors can stock your products.

Secondly, Prime vendors require liability insurance for $1M.  Higher insurance limits are required on high risk products such as latex gloves.

Lastly, Sales under the prime vendor program are considered FSS sales and prime vendors are required to keep track of sales under the program and report the sales to respective FSS contractors.  Prime vendors charge a fee to Federal Government product suppliers for this service.

7.  Am I required to deal with all the medical/surgical prime vendors under the program, or can I pick the prime vendor(s)?

Your participation in the prime vendor program as a Federal Government product supplier is prime vendor program specific and you are required to provide your contract products to all the prime vendors under the prime vendor program.

8.  Do I have to provide my Federal Government contract prices directly to medical/surgical prime vendors?

No.  The National Acquisition Center (NAC) provides prime vendors with your pricing information on FSS and National Standardization contracts.  Medical Centers are required to provide prime vendors with pricing information on VISN and/or facility contracts.  Currently, the NAC provides prime vendors with product prices and any associated price changes on the 1st and the 15th of month.

9.  How do I get my company’s product on a VA standardized National Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA)?

Items for standardized National BPAs are identified by Veterans Health Administration Clinical User Groups.  Once items are identified by these groups and after the products pass clinical user group evaluations, the National Acquisition Center conducts a competitive procurement among companies with these products on their Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts.

10.  Does my company have to have a FSS contract to be awarded a National BPA?

Yes, only companies with FSS contracts and the selected item on the FSS contract can compete for VA National BPAs.  The basic terms and conditions in the FSS contract will govern the BPA except where the BPA lists additional terms and conditions.

11.  How do the Clinical User Groups identify items for standardization?

The groups normally rely on procurement history which reveals what items have been purchased, the prices paid and in what quantities.  This information is usually very helpful in identifying items for standardization.

12.  Once an item is standardized how long is the BPA good for?

BPAs are normally awarded for 3-5 years; however, both the Government and the BPA Contractor can cancel the BPA with 30 days written notice.

13.  nce a company is awarded a standardized National BPA for an item, are VA facilities allowed to buy that item from any other company?

Not unless the facility has a clinical reason why the awarded item is unsuitable for their use.  The facility will then have to obtain a waiver from use of the standardized item.

14.  What is the difference between a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), a Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) and a National Contract?

BPAs and BOAs are very similar in nature in that they are basic agreements that are put in place once the Government identifies items used on a repetitive basis.

However, they differ in their use by VA in that BPAs are for anticipated requirements and use the terms and conditions contained in offerors’ existing FSS contracts. BOAs are for uncertain requirements and have their own specific terms and conditions.  Neither BOAs nor BPAs are considered binding contracts until orders are placed against them.  Those orders become the binding contracts.

A National Contract is a binding contract in itself, has specific terms and conditions that govern the contract and is binding once all parties have signed the agreement.  All orders against the National Contract are in accordance with the contract’s terms and conditions.

15.  What is the AbilityOne Program?

The AbilityOne Program was created by Congress to assist in providing employment opportunities for blind and handicapped individuals.  For a complete explanation of the AbilityOne Program visit their website at www.abilityone.com.

16.  Where can I get the list of VA PPV participants?

The current PPV customers list is available online and can be downloaded from www.va.gov/oal/business/nc/ppv.asp.

17.  How are pharmaceutical prices being communicated to McKesson?

The VA Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) maintains the price database for all contracted pharmaceutical products with assigned National Drug Codes (NDC).  McKesson downloads the prices nightly from the PBM website.  McKesson is mandated to only load items and prices included in the PBM price data base.  The prices for the medical/surgical items and other non NDC items are provided to McKesson manually by the Contracting Officer.

18.  Are Tribal and Urban Indian Health facilities eligible to participate in the VA PPV program?

Yes, but only if they have a compact or contract with a Federal Indian Health Service facility that is authorized to participate in the VA PPV program.  A tribal “638” or urban Indian Health facility must maintain their AFA (Annual Funding Agreement) with a Federal IHS facility, in order to gain access to our Federal program.

19.  Are 340B prices available through the PPV program?

No. McKesson is not allowed to load 340B prices or any contract prices that are not maintained by VA PBM.

20.  How can a State Veterans Home (SVH) participate in the VA PPV program?

The SVH must have an approved sharing agreement with a VA Medical Center.  The sharing agreement must include in clear terms the agreed duties and responsibilities of both parties, especially the terms pertaining to the ordering and payment procedures.  The sharing agreements’ established ordering and payment responsibilities will determine the type of SVH participation.  The SVH must also agree to the terms and provisions of the PPV contract.

21.  What are SVH “Options” 1 and 2 as it relates to the PPV program and PPV eligibility website?

“Options” 1 and 2 are the methods of the SVH’s participation in the PPV program.  The options determine the pricing eligibility under the PPV program.

Under “Option” 1, the SVH does its own ordering, receives products direct, and then State Funds are used to make payment to the PPV.  A participating Option 1 SVH is entitled to the benefits of the PPV contract along with FSS pricing.

Under “Option” 2, the SVH’s orders are authorized and paid for by the sponsoring VA.  The sponsoring VA assigns a federal purchase order number and transmits the order to the PPV.  The VA also makes payment to the PPV on behalf of the SVH.  Since Option 2 orders are considered VA orders and paid for via Federal funds, the SVH is entitled to the same pricing and contract access as their sponsoring VA.  A participating Option 2 SVH is entitled to the benefits of the PPV program and Big4/FCP pricing.

22.  Do all SVH’s nationwide participate in the PPV program?

No.  Our PPV program is not mandatory for State Veteran Homes.  However, those SVH’s that have an approved Sharing Agreement with a VA are welcome to contact their sponsoring VA or this office in seeking participation in our PPV program.

Note:  A SVH with a Sharing Agreement with a VA is entitled to FSS prices either via a direct purchase with a FSS holder, or at the discretion of the FSS holder, through a wholesaler other than the VA’s awarded prime vendor.  SVH’s that do not have a Sharing Agreement with a VA are entitled to FSS “like” prices on covered drugs only.  Those SVHs listed in the PPV Participants List have valid Sharing Agreenemetns.

23.  What are the methods of payment under the PPV program?

There are only two acceptable methods of payment, Net 15 and Fastpay.  Under Net 15 method, payment is due to the PPV within 15 days from the date of the valid invoice.  Under the Fastpay method, the PPV receives the payment within 24 to 48 hours.  The Fastpay method is similar to a credit card transaction.  Payment is processed through US Bank.  The Fastpay method of payment is mandatory for VA facilities and optional for other government agencies participating in the PPV program.