Frequently Asked Questions

CHESS Customer Support Center
Below is a list of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that CHESS has received via the help desk. We hope that these will help answer any questions you may have. If you still have further questions after reading these, then please feel free to contact us at armychess@army.mil or 1-888-232-4405.
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I'm having trouble logging in. Where can I get help?
Contact the CHESS Customer Support Center for any issues logging in. The Customer Support Center can be reached at 1-888-232-4405 or armychess@army.mil.
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Can Army personnel take advantage of the Microsoft Home Use Program discount?
Yes. Instructions to utilize the Microsoft Home Use Program can be found on the Microsoft JELA III BPA page here: https://chess.army.mil/Contract/ELA/1508000. Army users may register with their Army (army.mil) email addresses to utilize the program.
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What is the process for Army customers procuring software through CHESS?
Software procurement through CHESS can be met by using Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs), Core Enterprise Technology Agreements (CETAs), ITES-SW2, or DOD Enterprise Software Initiative (DOD ESI) blanket purchase agreements (BPAs). Army users should review ELAs and CETAs first. ELAs can be found here: https://chess.army.mil/Contract/SoftwareAgreements. CETAs and ESI BPAs, both managed by DOD ESI, can be found here: https://www.esi.mil/ If ELAs and CETAs do not satisfy the requirement, then depending on their acquisition strategy, Army customers may submit an RFQ/Reverse Auction to the ITES-SW2 contract holders via the RF(x) tool or utilize DOD ESI BPAs located at https://www.esi.mil/. If none of these options can fulfill the requirement, the customer should obtain a SoNA and an ITAS approval to purchase outside of CHESS/DOD ESI.
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I submitted an RFQ/RFP/RFI/RA that needs to be cancelled. How do I accomplish that?
This can be accomplished via the RFx Tool. Login to CHESS and then go to your index page (RFQ, RFP, RFI, or RA). Select the request that you wish to cancel and click the "Cancel" button. The vendor(s) will be informed via email of your cancellation. They will also see a note in their display screen.
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I submitted a RFQ/RFP/RFI/RA that I need to change. How do I update it?
Select the quote/auction you wish to change via the RFQ/RA Tools and click the Amend button. Note: Amending the RFQ/RA starts the bidding process over and invalidates the original RFQ/RA.
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Which agencies can order from CHESS contracts?
All DoD and Federal agencies may order from all CHESS hardware and services contracts. Software contracts are as followed: CHESS software ELAs: Varies. Review ELA contract pages to determine which agencies ordering is open to ITES-SW2: Open to all DoD and Federal agencies ESI Agreements: Open to all DoD and Federal agencies
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How do you determine a Delivery Order Number?
DOD: (DFAR Appendix G, Activity Address Numbers) CHESS contracts and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) are available for decentralized ordering. Defense Department customer delivery orders written by activities, other than the BPA/contract procuring activity, should be numbered IAW their contract address code. Civilian Agencies: Please follow the applicable policy within your agency. To determine the appropriate Delivery Order Code Assignment for your facility, click on the link below.
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How do I determine whether my Service requirement falls under CHESS?
The update to AFARS mandating Army use of CHESS contracts for IT services applies to all new acquisitions and re-competes for follow-on requirements. All other new acquisitions must review CHESS contract vehicles during market research to determine if the requirement falls within the scope of CHESS vehicles. If within scope, a CHESS contract vehicle must be utilized unless otherwise justified and an ITAS Approval is obtained to purchase outside of CHESS. If the requirement is verified as unavailable with no proposals in response to an RFI and/or RFP, then an approved SoNA will state the requirement is not available through CHESS. Approval to procure outside of CHESS must be obtained through the DCS G6 ITAS.
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How do I determine whether my requirement falls under Software Maintenance as a Service or Software Maintenance as a Product?
The current GSA definition makes the following distinction: Software Maintenance as a Product - Software maintenance as a product is used for the purpose of maintaining the operability and usability of the software product by utilizing published fixes to bugs via patches, updates, or upgrades. An example is the publishing of bugs or defect fixes by using patches to keep the software current. Software Maintenance as a Service - Software maintenance as a service is purchased for the purpose of solving user identified problems using technical support outside the scope of software maintenance as a product. For example, when problems arise after software implementation, such as when the software is incompatible with the organization's IT infrastructure.
Statement of Non-Availability (SoNA)
Following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the SoNA process. If you do not find the answer to your question here, please contact CHESS at armychess@army.mil or 1-888-232-4405.
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What is a SoNA and why is it a requirement in order to purchase from a source other than CHESS?
A SoNA is issued by CHESS and simply states that a particular requirement is not available through CHESS contracts. It serves as a validation that an Army organization has complied with the AFARS 5139 and AR 25-1 regulations to purchase all COTS IT through CHESS; however, no viable contract vehicle was available at the time of the requirement submission. This non-availability of a requirement is typically verified by having an expired RFQ or RA to the appropriate contract vehicle receive no bids. A SoNA does not constitute approval to purchase outside of CHESS or to deviate from any Army regulation or policy.
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Is a SoNA sufficient for purchasing COTS IT hardware, software or services outside of CHESS?
No. In addition to a SoNA, the Army customer must request an ITAS approval from the Army Deputy Chief of Staff G-6 (DCS G-6) to purchase from sources other than CHESS regardless of cost or appropriation. The ITAS approval tool is available at https://cprobe.army.mil/enterprise-portal/web/itas/home. Policy Reference: AFARS 5139 https://chess.army.mil/Content/Page/RES_CONTPROG
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Do I need a SoNA in order to obtain an ITAS approval to purchase outside of CHESS?
Typically yes, an approved SoNA is needed to obtain an ITAS approval for COTS IT hardware, software or services when the requirement is unavailable through existing CHESS or DOD ESI contracts. However, you can still request ITAS approval with the rejected SoNA for mission critical constraints.
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Does my SoNA information carry over to the ITAS system automatically?
No. The two systems currently do not have the ability to exchange information. The submitter must attach the SoNA email received from the CHESS IT E-Mart to the ITAS approval request.
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What is the turn-around time for processing a SoNA request?
CHESS processes SoNA requests within three business days.
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What is ITAS and when am I required to submit an ITAS approval for IT Initiatives?
Information Technology Approval System (ITAS) is run by the Army DCS G-6. Per DCS G-6, an HQDA-level ITAS approval is required when you are an Army customer, command or organization for which Army is the executive agent, or the acquisition supports the Army AND: A COTS IT product is not available on a CHESS or DOD ESI contract Mission critical constraints (time, etc.) require you to purchase outside of CHESS Purchasing data center related hardware, software, or services All IT purchases must be submitted through ITAS prior to purchase. This is in addition to the ITAS approval process described above to purchase outside CHESS or for data center related procurements. Designated Command Administrator (O-6 or equivalent) can approve the purchase and upload to ITAS. Please refer to the following policy references and the ITAS POCs below: Per AFARS 5139.101, “All information technology (IT) purchases must be submitted through the Information Technology Approval System (ITAS). The ITAS approval memo and supporting documentation shall be part of the requirements package submitted to the Contracting Officer and shall also be part of the resulting solicitation and contract file documentation. The ITAS approval website is located at https://cprobe.army.mil/enterprise-portal/web/itas/home” “Information Technology Investment Accountability (ITIA) Requirement – Use of the Information Technology Approval System (ITAS)”, 26 FEB 2021 For more information and to schedule training, contact the following POCs or visit the following website: Mr. Jim Mark, 703-692-4519 or james.n.mark.civ@army.mil Mr. Orlando Dixon, 571-256-8938 or orlando.dixon.civ@army.mil https://cprobe.army.mil/enterprise-portal/web/itas/home
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When do I NOT need a SoNA for Service requirements outside of CHESS?
New acquisitions, already started at the time of DUSA Memo/implementation guidance (01Dec, 2020), are “grandfathered” if they already have an approved acquisition plan or acquisition strategy. Exercise option periods on existing contracts. Acquisitions that are currently within the 8(a) program or new acquisitions to be set-aside for 8(a). Note: Contact the ITAS team regarding ITAS approval requirements and questions: usarmy.pentagon.hqda-cio-g-6.mbx.itas@army.mil
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If I am unable to find a product on the CHESS IT e-mart does that mean it does not exist under a contract or enterprise agreement?
No. Catalogs and price lists posted on the CHESS IT e-mart are not exhaustive lists. In order to verify that no CHESS vendor offers the desired product, do the following: Hardware: Submit an RFQ/Reverse Auction. Services: Submit an RFI or RFP. Software: CHESS Software J/ELAs and CETAs: Review the list products offered under the specific J/ELA or CETA. ITES-SW2: Submit an RFQ/Reverse Auction. ESI Agreements: Contact the listed vendor POC directly to determine product availability.
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I'm not an Army customer. Do I still need a SoNA and an ITAS Approval?
No. The SoNA and ITAS approval processes only apply to Army customers and commands or organizations where the Army is the executive agent.
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Are there any exceptions to the SoNA and ITAS approval process to purchase outside of CHESS contracts?
Per the SecArmy memo, the following exceptions are in effect: The United States Military Academy (USMA), in support of the academic and cadet development mission will use CHESS as the required source of supply. In the event CHESS is not able to support the procurement within mission requirements, USMA is authorized to execute the procurement consistent with existing regulations and policies. Non-Program Executive Officer/Project Manager managed Military Intelligence (MIP) systems. Non-PEO/PM managed MIP systems will be requested using the Army G-2 Automated systems Integration Database system. The request will include the CHESS SoNA for alternate contract purchase approval and will be reported to the CIO/G6. Policy Reference: “Army Waiver Process for Commercial-Off-the-Shelf Information Technology (COTS IT) Procurement Outside the Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software, and Solutions Program”, 06JUN13Note: Per AFARS 5139 “All information technology (IT) purchases must be submitted through the Information Technology Approval System (ITAS).”
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How do I determine whether a product falls within the CHESS scope?
AFARS 5139 designates CHESS as the mandatory source for COTS IT hardware, software, and services. AR 25-1 defines Information Technology (IT) as "Any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment that is used in the automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information . . ." AR 25-1 also designates CHESS as the primary source for COTS IT hardware and software. Use the AR 25-1 definition above to make a reasonable determination if the products or services you require are IT. Review the contracts' Scope Statement and/or Catalog Items to find examples of COTS IT products provided through CHESS.
Consolidated Buy (CB)
Have questions regarding the Consolidated Buy (CB) ordering periods? Below is a list of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that CHESS has received regarding the CB process. We hope that these will help answer any questions you may have. If you still have further questions after reading these, then please feel free to contact us at armychess@army.mil or 1-888-232-4405.
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Are shipping costs included in CB prices?
Yes, all shipping costs are included for both CONUS and OCONUS locations.
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Why are OCONUS prices higher than CONUS prices for CB items?
CB prices include shipping. OCONUS prices are higher to cover the higher cost of shipping products to OCONUS locations.
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Can I use my Government Impac Credit Card to purchase from the CB?
Yes, call the vendor to place an order using the Impac Card. NOTE: Be sure to comply with all of your local credit card ordering procedures.
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Are activities using Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) required to use the Consolidated Buy?
Yes. The Army policy does not differentiate between NAF and Appropriated Funds. The signed policy states that all organizations purchasing desktop or notebook computers shall use the Consolidated Buy unless the organization submits an exception.
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Does Fair Opportunity FAR 16.505 and DFARS 216.505-70 apply during the CB?
Yes, FAR 16.505 and DFARS 216.505-70 does apply during the CB. However, if the order is at or below the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT), and you are procuring equipment off of the ADMC-3 contract, no additional competition is required if you utilize the Consolidated Buy (CB) compare tool. As part of the CB process CHESS has provided each ADMC-3 vendor the CB specifications and has given them the opportunity to submit CB proposals for each category. CHESS has reviewed/approved the proposed product and the prices were determined to be fair and reasonable by the Contracting Officer. The ordering Contracting Officer/Contract Specialist can consider the approved price for each ADMC-3 vendor for example through the CHESS CB Products and Prices compare tool. Contracting officers must document in the contract file the rationale for placement and price of each order, including the basis for award and the rationale for any tradeoffs among cost or price and non-cost considerations in making the award decision. This documentation does not need to quantify the tradeoffs that led to the decision. The contract file shall also identify the basis for using an exception to the fair opportunity process. This satisfies the Fair Opportunity requirements of FAR 16.505(b)(1) for orders valued at SAT or less. If the order exceeds SAT, competition is required. The order must be placed on a competitive basis in accordance with DFARS 216.505-70.
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What if the CB configurations do not meet my requirements?
A CB exception memo must be obtained if desktops/notebooks offered through the CB do not meet your requirement. Instructions to create a CB Exception Memo can be found at https://chess.army.mil/Content/Page/CB_EXPT. Once you’ve obtained the CB Exception Memo, you may purchase notebooks/desktops from CHESS hardware contracts. Purchases made outside of CHESS contracts still require a SoNA and ITAS approval.
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Can support contractors purchase CB products on behalf of their Army/Government customer?
Yes, your local contracting officer may authorize a support contractor to make purchases on the government's behalf from the CB IAW FAR 51.1 "Contractor use of Government Supply Sources."
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Does CHESS approve CB Exceptions?
No. CB Exceptions are approved by an O-6 or GS-15 (or equivalent) at the customer activity. Send a copy of the approved CB Exception letter to the Ordering Contract Officers (OCO)'s contract file.
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Should OMA or OPA funds be utilized for bulk CB Procurements?
It is ultimately up to the customer and contracting office to make the determination if OMA or OPA is appropriate. Per the ACC-RI Contracting Office, and supporting Legal Counsel, there is no ‘color of money’ issue with using OMA funding for bulk general purpose CB buys. The investment threshold of $250K for OMA purchases applies to ‘systems’. Although the computers procured would all be connected via the NIPRnet, they are all individually functioning pieces of equipment being used for different general purpose tasks by many users. Therefore, a bulk CB buy is not for a single "system" but for many individual items. Since none of the individual computers being purchased comes anywhere close to $250K per unit, they do not individually cross the threshold for a system. Different criteria would likely apply to CB purchases made by a PM in support of a program of record. These may cross the threshold for a “system.” In every case it is important to coordinate with your supporting contracting office early in the process regarding the type of funding you will be using.
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Does the ‘Bona Fide Need Rule’ apply for bulk CB procurements?
The ‘Bona-Fide Need Rule’ states that money spent on items should support requirements for that fiscal year. Production / delivery lead time, respective to the ordering date may provide a valid exception to this. Customers must decide if there is a true bona fide need if delivery slips into the next FY, taking into consideration the delivery lead time exception.
Mobile Devices
Following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding Mobile Devices. We hope that these will help answer any questions you may have. If you still have further questions after reading these, then please feel free to contact us at armychess@army.mil or 1-888-232-4405.
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Are iPads available for purchase through CHESS?
Yes. iPads listed on DODIN APL are available through CHESS IT e-mart. All devices offered are Wi-Fi only and have no cellular data plans or capabilities. Further information can be found at the link below:
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Can mobile devices be used for Army Email?
Yes, mobile devices can be used for Army Email. Please contact DISA for more information. DISA Contact Link: http://disa.mil/About/Contact DISA DOD Mobility Program Link: https://www.disa.mil/Enterprise-Services/Mobility/DOD-Mobility
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How can I determine if the mobile device I am interested in procuring is an approved product?
Approved devices are located on the Department of Defense Information Network Approved Products List (DODIN APL), found at https://aplits.disa.mil/processAPList.action.
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Will mobile devices come with cellular service?
Customers will be able to purchase Wi-Fi capability only devices through CHESS. However, cellular service must be purchased separately. (Ref: NAVY Spiral 3) For ordering process and procedures please visit the Navy Strategic Sourcing website at: https://mynavsup.csd.disa.mil/webcenter/portal/nss. Once on the site, click directly on the “Mandatory Solutions" tab on the left, then on “Navy Wireless Service Contracts” link on the left to access Wireless information. Non-NAVSUP users must register their CAC prior to attempting to gain access to the secure web pages. Note: If you're unable to access the site, you'll need to register your PKI certificate in the NAVSUP Master Directory: https://www.navsup.navy.mil/registration
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What can mobile devices be used for?
Customers can use mobile devices for publicly accessible, non-CUI data. Mobile devices that involve storing and accessing CUI or higher data must be vetted by DISA.
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Can I sign/encrypt DISA Enterprise Email with a mobile device from CHESS?
Customers requiring the ability to sign/encrypt DEE must contact DISA Mobility PMO for the latest guidance.
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Can I use a Government Purchase Card (GPC) or Government Credit Card to purchase a mobile device through CHESS?
Yes, as long as the mobile device is Wi-Fi only enabled (which are available through CHESS ICW NASA SEWP). The mobile devices available through CHESS are not cellular or data based plans.
CHESS Reverse Auction
Following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the CHESS Reverse Auction capability. We hope that these will help answer any questions you may have. If you still have further questions after reading these, then please feel free to contact us at armychess@army.mil or 1-888-232-4405.
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Which CHESS agreements can utilize the CHESS Reverse Auction capability?
Contracts that are participating in the CHESS Reverse Auction capability are ADMC-3, ITES-3H, and ITES-SW2.
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Will start and end times for the CHESS Reverse Auction capability be during normal business hours?
Start times are upon submission of the auction. End times are determined by the buyer.
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Is the Army required to utilize CHESS for Reverse Auction and what incentive is there to utilize the CHESS Reverse Auction capability over other Reverse Auction tools?
No, customers are not required to utilize the CHESS Reverse Auction capability. Benefits of the CHESS Reverse Auction capability include no fee and direct CHESS oversight. It is also reinforced by the Deputy CIO memo dated 19 May 2017.
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Can customers conduct a Reverse Auction and traditional RFQ for the same requirement?
Conducting multiple competitions for the same requirement will lead to duplicate effort for all parties involved and greater potential for quoting error and is highly discouraged.
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May organizations using the CHESS Reverse Auction capability still be allowed to use the RFI tool to obtain preliminary information?
Yes. Customers may utilize the RFI tool to obtain information prior to conducting a traditional RFQ or a Reverse Auction.
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If the lead bid is rejected, does the second bid automatically become the lead?
Yes. Then the second bid automatically becomes the lead bid.
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If every vendor bids over the maximum price, will anyone be the “Lead”?
If the customer chooses “Make Maximum Price Active” then there will be no designated Lead if every vendor bids over the maximum price. If that is not made active, then the Lead will be designated.
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Are vendors notified when a question is submitted?
Yes, all vendors included in the Reverse Auction that have not “No Bid” will have access to review all questions and answers.