GSA recently released a discussion on GSA Interact describing 12 benefits of a GSA Schedule. We think it is important to understand the benefits of your GSA Schedule so you can in turn educate your Government Customers on why using your GSA Schedule for procurement is the best option for them. Below we have presented the 12 benefits described by GSA and provided a “translation” into terms those not familiar with government-speak can understand. Not all of the items may sound like benefits to you, but they certainly will to your potential GSA customers.
1. Streamlined acquisition processes – For the most part, FAR Parts 13, 14, 15, and 19 do not apply to orders placed against GSA Schedules, and ordering activities only have to follow the simplified ordering procedures prescribed in FAR Subpart 8.4.
Translation: When compared to acquiring products/services, the GSA Schedules program can offer your Government customer a more streamlined approach. A Government customer can purchase directly from your GSA Advantage catalog, post a request for quote in eBuy, put items up for auction on GSA Reverse Auction, or email you a bid directly. Ensure your customer knows all the different options available when purchasing through GSA Schedules.
2. No requirement to synopsize – GSA Schedules have been synopsized at the contract level in FedBizOpps and satisfy the requirements of the Competition in Contracting Act (Pub. Law 98-369) and FAR Part 5, Publicizing Contract Actions. Ordering activities “shall not” synopsize (see FAR 8.404(a)).
Translation: Your GSA customers, on an order level, do not have to make opportunities available for all to see. Instead they can send the opportunity to a minimum of 3 Schedule holders to bid on. We always encourage our clients to form relationships with potential GSA customers to get on their “short list” of preferred vendors.
3. Socioeconomic determinations are made at the contract level, therefore reps and certs are provided at the contract level. There is no requirement for reps and certs at the order level and ordering activities should rely on the size determination made at the contract level and displayed in GSA eLibrary.
Translation: If you are awarded as a Small Disadvantaged Business, you remain a SDB for the duration of the contract (five years). Your size status will be reviewed at the option period. Because your socioeconomic status has been determined on your GSA contract level, a customer will not have to take time to verify your SAM record on an order level.
4. Small Business set-asides are allowable at the discretion of the ordering activity contracting officer helping your organization to meet your socioeconomic goals. It is important to note that 80% of all GSA Schedule holders are small businesses and the simplified ordering procedures for Schedule set-asides are prescribed in FAR 8.405-5, not Part 19.
Translation: In addition to having limited competition by virtue of having a GSA Schedule, your pool of competitors could be even smaller based on your business size! Contracting Officers have the authority to set-aside GSA task orders specifically for small businesses. This is a benefit to your customer because it allows them to reach their Small Business goals. If you are a small business, be sure to always represent your small business certifications on your website and all your GSA related literature.
5. Subcontracting plans are issued and administered at the contract level, and are therefore not required for orders issued against GSA Schedules.
Translation: If you were a large business when you were first awarded your GSA contract, you were required to submit a Small Business Subcontracting Plan. This subcontracting plan governs your entire GSA contract and therefore, a GSA customer does not have to request a subcontracting plan at an order level. This can help speed up the acquisition process because the subcontracting plan has already been approved by the SBA and no time has to be spent waiting on approval on an order level.
6. GSA performs the contractor responsibility determination IAW FAR Part 9 at the contract level. A separate determination of responsibility is not required at the order level.
Translation: This saves valuable time and effort for your customer! FAR Part 9 describes what the Government considers a responsible contractor. Items of responsibility include ensuring a contractor has adequate financial resources, is able to comply with the delivery or performance Schedule, has a satisfactory performance record, has the necessary organization, experience, accounting and operational controls, and technical skills, etc. All of these items were addressed when you were first awarded your Schedule, therefore, a potential GSA customer can ensure you are a reliable contractor and not have to make that determination on an order level.
7. Conducting a cost and price analysis as prescribed in FAR Subpart 15.4 is not required. Fair and reasonable pricing is determined by GSA at the contract level. Ordering activities must ensure that pricing does not exceed the GSA Schedule price and consider discounts offered at the order level when evaluating price.
Translation: This saves valuable time and effort for your customer! When you were first awarded your GSA Schedule, your Contracting Officer conducted a complete price analysis and most likely negotiated your proposed pricing to be fair and reasonable. Because your GSA Contracting Officer has already conducted the price analysis, a potential GSA customer can skip this step, saving them time. Be sure to always monitor where you pricing stands amongst your GSA competitors to ensure you are still within a good range of competitors pricing.
8. Additional discounts off of the already fair and reasonable pricing is permitted and encouraged at the order level. The ordering activity is required to ask for a discount when the order exceeds the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT).
Translation: As discussed under number 7, when you were first awarded your GSA Schedule your Contracting Officer conducted price analysis and negotiated your proposed pricing to be fair and reasonable. Although you may have given GSA your best prices, potential GSA customers are allowed and often encouraged to ask for additional discounts. This means additional savings to your GSA customer that they can bring back to their boss. This is something to keep in mind when you are negotiating with GSA and be sure you never offer discounts that you cannot live with. This is an incentive for your customer.
9. The FAR Part 15 debriefing requirement does not apply to orders issued against GSA Schedules. Ordering activities may provide feedback.
Translation: For contracts outside of GSA Schedules, the Contracting Officer must provide a debriefing if a potential Offeror requests it. A debriefing explains what the potential Offeror was either left out of consideration or was not awarded the contract. Through the GSA Schedules program however, Contracting Officers are not required to provide a debriefing although they should provide you feedback if asked. By not having to perform the official debriefing requirements, it can save you’re the Contracting Officer time. Your customer will consider this a time and headache saver.
10. There is no requirement to establish a competitive range determination for orders issued against GSA Schedules. This is a Part 15 procedure that should not be used.
Translation: When a Contracting Officer receives bids they will review and rate each bid and then establish a “competitive range” of the top ranking bids. The number of bids in the competitive range will be based on the greatest number that will allow efficient competition. If a bid falls out of the competitive range, the Contracting Officer must communicate this with the bidder. With a GSA Schedule opportunity, the Contracting Officer does not have to follow these requirement which can save them time from not having to go through the formal procedures of establishing the competitive range. They are still required to review all bids and determine which bid is the “lowest price technically acceptable.”
11. Use of GSA Schedules is considered a competitive procedure in accordance with FAR 6.102(d)(3)).
Translation: The FAR prescribes certain policies and procedures to ensure the Government provides full and open competition. The GSA Schedules program meets all the policies and procedures prescribed in the FAR. When a Contracting Officer uses a GSA Schedule for procurement, they can be rest assured they are in compliance with the FAR.
12. Over 28 million products and services – GSA Schedules offer tremendous depth and breadth of available solutions.
Translation: The GSA Schedules programs offers everything from automobiles to zippers. This means GSA Schedules can be a one stop shop for your customer. There is no limit on the number of products you offer or the number of Schedules you have. Take a look at what you offer commercially to see if anything can be added to your current GSA Schedule or if you could possibly apply for a new Schedule.
We hope you have a better understanding of the benefits your GSA Schedule can offer your Government customers and feel more comfortable communicating these benefits to potential GSA customers. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at [email protected].
Since 2001 Coley GCS has helped companies worldwide successfully win and manage more than $1 Billion in Government Contracts. We specialize in GSA Schedules but support any contracting vehicle. We build long term relationships with clients –many who have put their trust in our advice for over a decade.