In late March the GSA published a presentation that clarified the relationship between the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) and the need for Level-3 financial data. Entitled “Point-Of-Sale Discounts for SmartPay® Cards,” it can be accessed here

FSSI currently covers ground delivery services, wireless service management and office supplies. The GSA wants to further maximize the effectiveness of FSSI through SmartPay card functionality.

That’s where Level-3 Data comes in. The GSA defines Level-3 Data as an “’electronic invoice’ with line-item details.” Level-3 Data makes plain description of product, quantity, price, price discount applied and sales tax information where applicable. This information is then combined with merchant establishment and cardholder information to provide an extremely high level of purchase transparency.

To the GSA the benefits of Level-3 are compelling. They list them out in the presentation:

For Government: 

  • Accountability and Transparency – enhanced visibility facilitates accountability and detects waste and abuse;
  • Cost Avoidance – processing the cards costs less than traditionalPO systems;
  • Leveraging of card for Strategic Sourcing – a fast, easy and efficient acquisition pipeline for government cardholders;
  • Refunds – every time a card is used, agencies are refunded part of interchange fee.


For Merchants: 

  • Faster Funding – reduces payment time from 30-60 days to 2-3 days;
  • Savings – special rates from MasterCard and Visa, but only with Level-3 line item detail;
  • Success stories – to be published on the SmartPay web site;
  • Increased sales potential – as a result of increase access to government cardholders.


With a list of benefits like that, it’s no surprise the GSA is considering making Level-3 mandatory for Schedule participation. They lay these out 0n Slide 12 of the presentation, under “GSA Future Steps/Opportunities.” The two steps specific to Level-3 Data are: 

  • “Requirement that Schedule price discounts be reported via Level-3 data regardless of the method of sales (Card-Present, Card-Not-Present or Electronic Commerce).”
  • “Establishment of a Level-3 data reporting format for merchants.”


So there it is. The benefits of Level-3 data are undeniable. And, the ability to process Level-3 transactions will soon be required for participation on a GSA Schedule.

There’s no excuse to delay. If you want to do business with the GSA, you need to get your Level-3 house in order.