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U.S. AbilityOne Commission

J. Anthony Poleo, Chairperson
Tina Ballard, Executive Director

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Distributor Criteria and Application Form

Criteria for AbilityOne® Distributors

1. All distributors seeking authorization to distribute AbilityOne products must submit an application to the Commission staff. Submission of an application does not guarantee a distributor will be authorized by the AbilityOne Program. The application follows this document:

  • Distributors seeking authorization to distribute AbilityOne office products must have a GSA 75 Federal Supply Schedule or other Federal contract requiring AbilityOne products or overlapping the AbilityOne product offering. This requirement is waived for distributors that are Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SDVO). Official documentation verifying that status is required.
  • Initially, the distributor will provide its total sales to Federal customers over the previous 12-month period. This data will be used as a benchmark to establish an AbilityOne sales goal. The distributor shall provide a listing of current Federal Government contracts in its application to become an AbilityOne distributor and agrees to notify the AbilityOne Program of all future awards for Federal contracts and/or Blanket Purchase Agreements.
  • Distributor agrees not to notify customers they have AbilityOne products until a letter of authorization is received from the Commission staff.
  • Use of the AbilityOne name or logo is not permitted until authorization is granted. SKILCRAFT® is a registered trademark of National Industries for the Blind. All use of the brand and logo whether in print or electronic format, must be approved by National Industries for the Blind, the sole owner of this trademark.

2. AbilityOne distributors requesting full product line authorization will be required to offer all or the vast majority of the AbilityOne products available for its industry/offering. Office product distributors are required to make available the A-List at a minimum, but are strongly encouraged to make available all B-List AbilityOne products available from the authorized wholesaler(s). Janitorial/sanitation distributors are required to make available the janitorial/sanitation products appearing on the B-List as well as those on the A-List that are available from the authorized wholesalers or other distribution partners. AbilityOne products must be included on the distributor’s GSA Schedule and/or DoD E-Mall contract, if applicable. Product lists are reviewed and updated quarterly. When there is minimal overlap between the AbilityOne product line and the distributor’s product offering to its Federal customers, a distributor may submit an application for a limited authorization to carry a portion of the AbilityOne product line. The AbilityOne product offering for a limited authorization will be negotiated. The Commission staff will make the final decision on the distributor’s AbilityOne product offering and/or if a distributor must offer a full product line upon review of the scope/overlap of their
commercial offering.

3. The distributor must abide by the AbilityOne exclusivity principle, i.e., not to sell any commercial products to Federal customers if those products have been deemed “essentially the same” (ETS) as AbilityOne products. As a result, distributors should refrain from marketing both A- and B-List ETS commercial products on federal contracts, including the GSA Schedule and DoD E-Mall. Distributors are permitted to challenge ETS designations. In addition, distributors are permitted to request waivers on behalf of federal customers when the customer has a valid reason why the AbilityOne product will not meet their need. The appropriate form must be submitted and approved by the AbilityOne Program in both cases. Distributors must be able to explain and demonstrate how its ordering system will automatically block commercial ETS products and substitute the appropriate AbilityOne products. An automated blocking system is strongly preferred. The Committee will perform a test of the blocking system prior to authorization and may perform follow-up tests periodically thereafter. If an automated blocking system is not feasible, an equally effective alternative is to be proposed to, and approved by the AbilityOne Program. The distributor must also agree that they will not substitute an ETS commercial product if an AbilityOne product is ordered by a Federal customer. If an AbilityOne product is not available from one of the wholesalers, or directly from the producing nonprofit agency (if direct orders are allowed), the distributor must notify the AbilityOne Program. The AbilityOne Program will respond to ensure the customer’s needs are met in a timely manner. If applicable, distributors must upon request, provide catalog files electronically (i.e., spreadsheet or database) to support ETS reviews. Electronic files should contain the following information, when available:

- Catalog Publisher SKU
- Description
- Long Description
- Unit of Issue
- Current Catalog Page Number
- 12-digit UPC Code
- Product Category
- Manufacturer SKU
- Manufacturer Name
- Manufacturer Code
- United Stationers SKU/Order No.
- S.P. Richards SKU/Product No.
- Lagasse SKU
- 13-digit EAN
- 14-digit GTIN

4. The AbilityOne Program does not dictate end customer pricing. However, we are very interested in ensuring that distributors are charging prices that are in the competitive range. To assist you in determining the competitive range, it is recommended distributors use www.gsaadvantage.gov to conduct a random price analysis. When applying for authorization, distributors will be required to provide estimated mark-ups above cost for AbilityOne products. A range is acceptable. The AbilityOne Program reserves the right to address pricing concerns with individual distributors.

5. The distributor must publish in a catalog the availability of the AbilityOne products as identified by the AbilityOne Program. The treatment of AbilityOne products shall be comparable in quality to the tools/treatment for commercial products in all federal marketing initiatives.

Print catalogs: Unless required by contract, the AbilityOne Program would encourage, but does not require, an integrated, Government-unique print catalog. A commercial print catalog with an AbilityOne insert is acceptable. In all cases, the distributor must have appropriate blocking of ETS products (see criterion #3).

If the distributor produces a smaller Government–unique catalog, all ETS products must be removed. The distributor is strongly encouraged to fully integrate the AbilityOne products with the commercial products. All print catalogs shall be provided to the AbilityOne Program for review and approval prior to being published. If you use a standard wholesaler catalog, there is no need for catalog submission. Please indicate the wholesaler’s catalog you use. Distributor shall allow the AbilityOne program at least two weeks to review catalog proofs.

Electronic catalogs: The AbilityOne Program requires that electronic (on-line and/or CD) catalogs fully integrate AbilityOne products into all search features as well as other pages where applicable. A separate button for Federal users/AbilityOne products is encouraged. Removal of all ETS items is required if the site is dedicated to federal customers. If the electronic catalog is part of a distributor’s commercial electronic catalog, the firm must still block the sale of ETS products to federal customers. To ensure e-commerce sites are compliant, the distributor must provide the AbilityOne Program access to the site. Site locations or access changes must be communicated to the AbilityOne Program within two weeks of the change.

Distributor-run Stores at Federal Government Facilities: The AbilityOne Program requires that distributors eliminate all ETS products from a store location and offer the appropriate AbilityOne products. Store compliance visits may be conducted by AbilityOne personnel.

6. In order to ensure that the distribution relationship provides mutual value, distributors will be required to establish a sales goal for the first full year of authorization. To enable the AbilityOne Program to track progress in this regard, the distributor must provide sales reports for total AbilityOne sales on a quarterly basis (quarters ending March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31), within 30 days of the end of each calendar quarter. The sales report should include the NSN, units sold, and sales (in US dollars) in an electronic format (preferably Excel). The distributor shall also grant the AbilityOne Program permission to obtain sales data for AbilityOne products from approved wholesalers on a quarterly basis.

7. Office product distributors must obtain AbilityOne products through an approved wholesaler unless they are authorized to buy direct. Authorized distributors must deliver AbilityOne products to Federal customers in a timeframe comparable to that of commercial products handled by the distributor. The distributor will advise the AbilityOne Program if out-of- stock situations at the wholesaler level disrupt the timely distribution of AbilityOne products. The distributor shall not substitute a commercial product unless the AbilityOne Program has provided written authorization. The AbilityOne Program Terms & Conditions attached to this document will apply to all purchases. Audited financial data and/or appropriate credit references will be required to ensure the distributor is capable of making payments for AbilityOne products delivered. Also, the distributor agrees to purchase AbilityOne products from the producing nonprofit agency location identified by the AbilityOne Program and to follow ordering procedures as outlined by the AbilityOne Program.

  • Prices for all AbilityOne products shall be furnished to those distributors that are authorized to purchase direct by the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled. See attached Terms & Conditions regarding FOB Origin or Destination terms. Most prices are adjusted annually, with any changes taking effect on the first of the calendar year. However, some products are subject to Economic Price Adjustment clauses in their Government contracts or for other reasons may change on a quarterly basis. Thus, the Committee issues price updates on a quarterly basis approximately 45 days prior to the effective date.

8. Some AbilityOne nonprofit agencies are bound by product licenses that allow their products to be sold only to the Federal Government, and others may have limited capacity to supply non-Federal sources. A list of the items affected by these provisions will be provided. If non-restricted products are sold to commercial customers, those products must not be sold at prices that are less than the prices being charged Federal customers. As a courtesy, the AbilityOne Program would like a distributor to inform us if the AbilityOne products are being sold to commercial customers.

9. Distributors will be evaluated on an annual basis on the following areas of performance:

  • Compliance with established criteria for AbilityOne distributors
  • Ability to provide AbilityOne products on time and not substitute commercial products
  • Payment history (if direct orders are allowed)
  • Federal Government catalog and treatment of the AbilityOne Program products
  • Input from Federal customers
  • Effective blocking system
  • How well the distributor worked with the AbilityOne staff to market and expand sales of AbilityOne products

10. The first year of authorization is probationary. The AbilityOne Program reserves the right to dissolve the relationship within the first year. After the first year, established procedures will be followed to dissolve the relationship if the distributor fails to adhere to the criteria outlined above. As necessary, the Committee will review and revise these criteria. Current AbilityOne distributors will be given 30 days’ notice before any changes go into effect.

AbilityOne Program Terms and Conditions for Ordering, Shipping, Invoicing and Payment

1. Shipment of product shall be FOB Origin or Destination as designated by the Committee. As of January 1, 2004, the Committee will allow distributors with direct ordering authority to select either all FOB Origin or all FOB Destination priced deliveries. Distributors are not able to choose a mixture of origin and destination prices at this time. If ordering FOB Destination, distributors may contact the allocated agencies and request volume freight discounts. Volume freight discounts are at the discretion of the nonprofit agency.

2. Shipments shall be made a maximum of 15 days after receipt of an order by the producing location.

3. All shipments shall be made to a distributor’s list of authorized distribution centers. A “non-authorized location” is a location that is not a regular distribution center of the distributor or a location to which the distributor and the AbilityOne Program recognize as an agreed upon “ship to” location.

4. Payment shall be net 30 days after receipt of an invoice. Distributors may be assessed penalties in accordance with the Prompt Payment Act for any payments that are not made within the 30 days.

5. Return Policy (copy attached).

6. If allowed to purchase direct from producing locations, distributor agrees to comply with minimum order quantities established by the AbilityOne Program and to order from the producing location(s) designated by the AbilityOne Program.

7. Drop Shipment Policy: It is the AbilityOne Program policy not to accept orders for drop shipments, unless approved by NIB or SourceAmericaTM (formerly NISH) or the nonprofit agency in advance of the order being received. The nonprofit agency may assess a reasonable surcharge in addition to the established FOB Origin or Destination pricing to cover additional shipping and/or handling fees associated with drop shipments. Drop shipments are defined as any orders that require shipment to a “non-authorized” location, expedited delivery, or shipments directly to the customer. For any drop shipments, the distributor agrees to pay for all product, and freight for FOB Origin shipments, if no claims are filed within 5 days of signing for a shipment.

8. In accordance with the Government’s policy to move to electronic commerce, distributors are encouraged to order electronically. The preferred format for orders is currently via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). All agencies are capable of receiving orders using this format. The AbilityOne Program may impose a surcharge for distributors that cannot comply with the requirement to order electronically.

9. Credit Hold Policy: In accordance with normal commercial credit and collection procedures, the nonprofit agencies will be allowed to initiate credit hold proceedings against specific distributor ship-to points and/or entire distributors. The nonprofit agency must notify NIB or SourceAmerica and the Committee at least 15 days prior to any requested credit hold. NIB or SourceAmerica will attempt to resolve the situation. This is only applicable where direct orders have been authorized.


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Application for AbilityOne Distributors (MS Word document)