Surplus Property Frequently Asked Questions
General Federal Asset Sales Questions
Federal Asset Sales (eFAS) is an E-Government program designed to improve and optimize the way the federal government sells its surplus, exchange/sale, and/or forfeited assets to the public via online and offline auctions. It is intended to allow access to federal government websites through the creation of a single, secure, efficient, and effective online e-marketplace at USA.gov's Auctions and Sales page.
GSA's Federal Asset Sales seeks to engage all agencies from the federal government. Select agencies are designated as "sales centers" to sell government assets on behalf of federal agencies participating in the initiative. At this time, the following agencies are sales centers, although more agencies may be selected in the future:
- Department of Agriculture, Centralized Excess Property Operation
- Department of Defense
- Department of Interior, Aviation Management Division
- Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service & Asset Forfeiture Division
- Department of Justice, U.S. Marshal Service
- General Services Administration, Federal Acquisition Service, Sales Program Division
Sales centers vary by type and geographic area of property sold.
As part of the normal process of performing its business, the federal government requires common items such as computers, furniture, buildings, etc., to complete its mission. Once these items have served their useful life to the government, they may still be of use to private citizens. These excess items are then identified as assets for sale and are offered either to members of the public or to other government agencies for purchase.
Proceeds from property sales are returned to the federal government (via the Department of Treasury) and are available for use in other federal government endeavors.
USA.gov's Auction and Sales offers more information about Federal Asset Sales.
No. The portal does not collect any information covered by the Privacy Act. Individual sales centers may require you to provide personally identifiable information in order to register or complete a sales transaction.
In accordance with Public Law No. 104-134, Section 31001, the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 [PDF], the Tax Identification Number (TIN) must be provided by anyone conducting business with the federal government, from which a debt to the government could arise. Individuals cannot successfully register to bid on items without providing a TIN. A TIN is defined as an individual's Social Security number or a business entity's Employer Identification Number.
The term "export only" refers to merchandise identified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that cannot be registered, used, resold, or entered into the commerce of the United States or its territories.
"Export only" means merchandise is offered on the condition that all licensing and federal permits will be met by the buyer before exportation. It is recommended that you contact your local CBP office or engage the services of a customs broker or bonded carrier for further information. You can also visit the CBP website or export.gov for more detailed export information. Buyers are responsible for obtaining and complying with all export requirements. "Export only" seized property and general order merchandise must be physically removed from the United States within 60 days after the sale. Check the terms of sale for the specific removal dates.
All countries have their own customs laws and may or may not allow you to import your merchandise into their country. A customs broker or the customs service of the importing country can assist you in answering this question. Information is also available at the U.S. government's export portal at export.gov.
Occasionally, technical problems will interrupt the bidding process for an unspecified amount of time. These interruptions could affect some or all bidders. Based on the length of the interruption and the number of bidders affected, a center may decide to extend the closing time for an auction. Extension can range from one hour to 24 hours based on the these criteria, to ensure fair and full competition.
In addition, some auctions have "inactivity time" built into the auction. This is the number of minutes that must pass without any bidding activity for the auction to close. If the inactivity period is displayed as "N/A", then the auction will close at the specified auction close date and time.
To ensure the integrity of the bidding process and the security of the information you provide, we have disabled the back button feature in three modules of the website--the registration, profile update, and payment pages.
The system is subject to the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. Section 552a, as amended). Authority for collecting the information: 40 U.S.C. §§ 483 & 484 authorizes collection of the information in the system.
The information is used primarily to award and administer contracts for sales of federal personal property. Information may also be disclosed:
- In any legal proceeding to which GSA is a party;
- To federal, state, local, or foreign law enforcement agencies in cases of possible violation or potential violation of civil or criminal law or regulation;
- To authorized officials engaged in investigating or settling a grievance, complaint, or appeal filed by an individual who is the subject of a record;
- To the Office of Personnel Management, the General Accounting Office, or the National Archives and Records Administration when the information is required for evaluation of the program or program records;
- To a member of Congress or his or her staff on behalf of, and at the request of the individual who is the subject of a record;
- To an expert, consultant, or contractor of GSA in the performance of a federal duty to which the information is relevant; and
- To the GSA Office of Finance for debt collection purposes (see GSA/PPFM-7).
Furnishing the requested information is voluntary, as is participation in the Personal Property Sales Program. However, failure to provide this information may result in ineligibility to purchase personal property from sales centers.
Handling of information gathered through visits to our website
Information automatically collected and stored
We collect only the following information about you:
- The name of the Internet domain you are using (e.g., verizon.net, if you are connecting to a Verizon account, or Harvard.edu, if you are connecting from Harvard University's domain); and
- The date and time of your visit.
If you send us personal information
When you send us personal information (e.g., in an email message) or fill out a form that emails us this information, we only use this information to respond to your request. We may forward your email to the government employee who can best answer your questions. We do not disclose, give, sell, or transfer any personal information about our visitors, unless required for law enforcement or by statute.
We want to make it clear that we will not obtain personally identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide that information to us. Except for authorized law enforcement investigators, or as otherwise required by law, we do not share any information we receive with anyone else.
The credit card information provided at registration is used strictly to validate your identity. Authorized sales centers do not automatically charge credit cards on file, and do not assume that the credit card you used for validation at registration is the one you will choose to use to pay for any items you win in an auction.
Credit card payments can be made via sales centers from the "My Summary" page utilizing the "Trades" feature. Online payments are processed by pay.gov, which is a secure, governmentwide payment collection portal and transaction engine created and managed by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Financial Management Service.
Your credit card account will be checked to make sure that is it valid and has sufficient funds to authorize a $1 charge. Within 24 hours, the authorization for $1 will expire. You may notice a change in available balance by $1; but the amount is never charged to your credit card account. More information is available for help on the registration process.
Currently, only approved federal agencies can sell property through USA.gov's Auction and Sales. Non-approved federal agencies can use one of the approved "sales centers" to sell their property.
How-to Questions for the USA.gov's Auction and Sales Website
USA.gov's Auction and Sales sells items in two major categories: real and personal property. Real property includes property such as land, single-family homes, commercial buildings, and farms. Personal property includes just about anything else, such as vehicles, jewelry, electronics, furniture, industrial equipment, etc.
Here are a few basic steps to get you started:
- Find an item. Browse through our categories using the tabs at the top of the page or by following the links.
- Learn about the items you find. Read the item descriptions carefully, and contact the seller if you have additional questions.
- Select the tem which will take you to an authorized sales center. You will be required to register with each sales center before bidding.
- Bid on the item or choose "Buy It Now." Once you have found the item you want, you should register and place a bid, or purchase the item instantly depending, on what purchase options are available to you.
- Pay for the item. After you have won the bid for the item you want, you will need to pay the seller. Your seller will send you an email with information on how to pay and where you should send payment.
- Pick up the item.
Buyers are responsible for picking up purchased items. At this time, sales agencies do not provide shipping, although special arrangements can be made on a case-by-case basis. Buyers are responsible for any additional costs associated with shipping the item.
USA.gov's Auction and Sales is a centralized website that allows you to browse through the inventory of property for sale at several government agencies. Once you locate an item you wish to bid on, you are redirected to the agency that is selling the property listed.
Again, USA.gov's Auction and Sales. is a centralized website that allows you to browse through the inventory of several government agencies. However, to bid on or purchase property, you must deal directly with the agency listing the property. Each sales center requires bidders to complete its specific registration process.
The Federal Asset Sales initiative has an email list that will keep you up-to-date. Simply register at USA.gov's Auction and Sales.
- Searching: The USA.gov's Auction and Sales portal enables you to search across personal property types (vehicles, jewelry, electronics, etc.) and across multiple government sites. To search personal property, first select a personal property tab and enter a search term into the search box.
- Browsing: You can also browse across property types (personal and real property) by selecting a property tab and selecting from the links provided. You can also browse the entire contents of the site using the "All Categories" link.
The government warrants to the original purchaser that the property listed on the auction website will conform to its written description. If a description is determined to be inaccurate before payment, the contract will be canceled without any liability to the bidder. If a description is determined to be inaccurate before the property is removed, the government will keep the property and refund any money paid. If a description is determined to be inaccurate after removal, the government will refund any money paid if the purchaser takes the property at his or her expense to a location specified by the sales contracting officer. The refund claims procedure described below will be strictly followed for a filing claim. No refunds will be made after the property is removed for shortages of individual items within a lot. This warranty is in place of all other guarantees and warranties, expressed or implied.
The government does not warrant the merchantability of the property or its purpose. The purchaser is not entitled to any payment for loss of profit or any other monetary damages - special, direct, indirect, or consequential.
Refund Claim Procedure
To file a claim for inaccurately described property:
- Submit a written notice to the sales contracting officer within 15 calendar days from the date of award prior to payment or 15 calendar days from the date of removal.
- If the property has been removed, maintain the property in the purchased condition until you return it.
- If the property has been removed, return the property at your own expense to a location specified by the sales contracting officer. Written claims need to be filed to the sales contracting officer. Verbal contact with the custodian or the sales contracting officer will not constitute a notice of inaccurate description.
The refund is limited to the purchase price of the inaccurately described property.
Photographs must not depict an exact representation of the bid item(s) and should not be relied upon in place of written item descriptions or as a substitute for physical inspection. Please contact the custodian for inspection dates and times.
Bidders are invited, urged and cautioned to inspect the property before bidding on it. Bidders must contact the custodian indicated in the item description for inspection dates and times.
Prospective purchasers are asked to inform the sales office of any discrepancies in the property description discovered while inspecting the property and of any lots in this sale that contain hazardous material or waste not indicated in the property descriptions.
Depending on the sales agency, payment methods may be restricted. Generally, the agencies participating in the Federal Asset Sales initiative accept the following payment types:
- Cash or cash equivalent;
- U.S. currency (no greater than $10,000);
- Bank cashier's check;
- Credit union cashier's check issued by a federal or state-chartered credit union;
- U.S. Postal Service or commercial money order;
- Traveler's checks;
- Properly endorsed United States federal, state, or local government checks;
- Personal or company checks accompanied by a bank letter of guarantee; and
- Credit Cards: MasterCard, Visa, Discover/Novus, and American Express.
Details on Check Payments: Certified checks, bank drafts and debit cards with dollar limitations, and/or that require a Personal Identification Number (PIN), are not acceptable. All checks and money orders must be made payable to the General Services Administration.
Details on Credit Card Payments: Credit cards can be processed manually or online through the Department of Treasury's pay.gov system.
Property must be paid for within two business days and property removed within 10 business days from the time and date of the award email notification of sale results, unless otherwise specified in the contract.