Since 2020 GSA contracts have become even more readily available to businesses, thanks to the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Consolidation process finishing this year. If you had ever thought about pursuing a GSA contract, the time is now. Read along to learn how to get on the GSA Schedule, and how to get your first GSA contract.
What are GSA federal schedules?
GSA Schedules are contracting vehicles the U.S. government agencies use, to purchase products and services. For many agencies, the only way to purchase something is via GSA Schedules, while some can also utilize other channels. However, if you are serious about your future government sales, you should definitely consider GSA contracts as your primary option.
How to get on a GSA Schedule?
Getting a GSA Schedule is a multifold process. First of all, GSA only works with legitimate businesses, which means you must register your business, get a D.U.N.S. number and NAICS codes. You also need an account at SAM.gov, in order to submit to GSA your application for a GSA Schedule. The next obligatory step is to complete GSA training. The course is called Pathways to Success, and it explains all the basics you must know about Federal Schedules, before applying for one. Then, there is the Readiness Assessment tool which certifies that you have passed the training, and have understood the terms and conditions, as well as solicitation clauses and requirements clearly.
Then, you need to prepare and submit all the required documents. GSA only entrusts government contracts to established and financially stable businesses, that are either providing services or selling products in the corresponding GSA niche that they go after, for at least two years (confirmed by financial statements). Among the required documents are:
- Financial statements for two previous years
- Price proposal (i.e., what you sell and your prices)
- Technical proposal (i.e., what product specifications that you can guarantee)
- Legal documents and agreements (this includes TAA compliance documents, End User License Agreements and so on)
- Past performance report provided by Open Rating (to evaluate how well your business performs in comparison to other businesses in the same industry)
The process of gathering and submitting all the required paperwork is probably the most time and effort consuming part of the preparation. Getting your GSA submission approved is the first bottle-neck between you and your first government contract, so taking the paperwork seriously is a must. After preparation of your document package, you submit it to GSA. A GSA Contracting Officer will review your submission (this may take a while) and will possibly get back to you for clarifications, if necessary. After your submission is approved, you are awarded with a GSA Schedule, and can then pursue a GSA contract.
How do I get a GSA contract?
There are several federal acquisition platforms where government agencies publish solicitations and/or look for contractors. Examples of such platforms are: GSA eBuy, GSA Advantage, FedBizOpps. Once you are awarded with a Schedule, you can search for opportunities (RFQ – request for quotation, RFI – request for information, and others) on these platforms and place your bids. Once you bid has been won, you are one step away from a GSA contract. Congratulations! However, the job is not done yet. In fact, being a government contractor imposes a number of obligations on you. First of all, your company must make at least $25,000 within the first two years of your Schedule contract and then each individual year thereafter. Among other things, you must keep an eye on compliance and keep your prices competitive, so that the government always receives your best prices.
Surely, pursuing a GSA Schedule contract award can be beneficial for a business, but this is still hard work. Many companies prefer to delegate at least part of this work to third-party consulting firms that specialize in helping businesses start selling to federal agencies. Such agents can take the burden of communicating with GSA away from your company, as well as greatly increase your odds of securing a GSA Schedule contract.