What is a GSA Schedule

A GSA Schedule is a long-term government-wide contract between commercial suppliers and the government. They are the premier contract vehicle for government. GSA Schedules are 20-year contracting vehicles that make it easier for the Government to do business with government contractors. GSA Contracts are structured with a 5-year base period plus three 5-year options, totaling 20 years.They allow government buyers to save time and money and gives seller the a chance to offer their goods and services in a place where federal procurement spending is about $42 billion per year.

Who Administers the Schedule Program?

The General Services Administration, or GSA, is an independent agency of the Federal government that supplies products and communications for U.S. Government offices, provides transportation and office space to federal employees and develops government-wide cost-minimizing policies.

The U.S. Government is one of the largest customers in the world and contracts for over $500 billion in products and services each year–with $100 billion of that going directly to small businesses. Federal buyers overwhelmingly prefer to buy from vendors who have pre-approved contracts. Find a list of agencies that purchase from the GSA Schedule here.  To this, GSA establishes long-term, Government-wide contracts with commercial companies. 

There are more than 30 different GSA Schedules, and a critical first step is determining which one is right for you.  A current list of GSA Schedules is found here. Review the descriptions of each category of products or services to identify the specific category that is most appropriate.

What are the Benefits of Being on GSA Schedule?

  1. GSA Schedules are the most commonly used pre-approved contract and are the only contract continuously open to new vendors.
  2. Obtaining a GSA Schedule provides Federal, State, and Local agencies with a direct way of purchasing your products and/or services quickly with limited paperwork, red tape, and competition.
  3. GSA Schedules are known as “Multiple Award Schedules,” meaning that any Federal Government activity can purchase as often and as much as needed.
  4. Having a GSA Schedule in good standing can be lucrative.  Established GSA vendors can and do experience explosive growth and prosperity.  On average, companies with a GSA Schedule do more than 2.5 times betterthan those without a GSA Schedule.
  5. Obtaining a GSA Schedule significantly reduces competition in a crowded and highly competitive Federal marketplace. It is challenging and labor intensive to get on Schedule, which can be discouraging to many businesses. The good news is that determination and persistence pays off.  Because of these challenges, GSA approved vendors have less competition than non-GSA Schedule vendors.

Is Getting on GSA Schedule Right for My Business?

Despite the potential, it must be emphasized that being on Schedule is not for everyone.  There are several things to keep in mind both during and after the approval process. Here are some common obstacles that may impact potential contractors if they are not prepared:

    1. It is a lengthy process: Without government contracting knowledge or experienced resources, the process can take from eight months to a couple of years. Compiling the lengthy and detailed documentation needed to submit an offer can be tedious.
    2. Timeline not under contractor’s control: Turnaround times can be notoriously slow due to volume of offers and large workloads on GSA’s side. Furthermore, at the present time, companies are experiencing a high rejection rate.
    3. Getting on schedule is only the first step: Contractors must be prepared to adhere to rigorous compliance requirements with the ever-present risk of contract termination to those that do not.
    4. Costs of remaining compliant after getting awarded: Contractors must be prepared to track and report sales with great accuracy, keep meticulous records, maintain a current catalog/pricelist of goods and services, complete frequent contract modifications, pay careful attention to marketing so as to remain visible in a crowded marketplace, and always be ready for GSA visits and audits.

What are the Qualifications to Obtain a GSA Schedule Contract?

Every vendor applying for a GSA Schedule must meet minimum mandatory criteria to be considered.

  1. Businesses are disqualified if they have been previously debarred from doing business with the Federal government.
  2. Interested businesses must not have been convicted of, or had a civil judgement rendered against them in connection with a Federal, State or Local government contract or subcontract in the last three years.
  3. Past performance is critical in breaking into the Government marketplace.  Businesses must provide at least six references demonstrating exemplary performance.
  4. Not surprisingly, strong financial health must also be evidenced.  Potential contractors must be free of bankruptcy proceedings or liens.  The Government will also need to prove a business’ financial health including asset or line of credit confirmation, positive asset/liability ratio, and demonstrated means to support 60 to 90 days of business operations.

Should I Use a GSA Schedule Consultant?

A “do it yourself” attempt to get on Schedule can result in a grueling 8 to 24 month time frame and an initial rejection rate of up to 80%, especially to those businesses understandably unfamiliar with the nuances and details of Government contracting. In contrast, a reputable consultant in the Government contracting field can do all of the heavy lifting for you. Before contracting a consultant make sure to:

  1. Request references.
  2. Have a clear understanding of the scope of the services you are provided. It is unfortunate to find out that after you hire someone, you are still doing most of the work.
  3. Request metrics on how successful they are with GSA Schedule contract awards in your industry.

For example, at Coley, our GSA Schedule contract consultants take on 97% of the work. Our expertise in Government contracting reduces the time frame to award and because of our steps to pre-qualify clients we can boasts a 100% Award Rate. In addition 80% of our new business comes from customer referrals.

What are MAS Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs)

In order to support agencies with their strategic sourcing requirements, GSA is developing a number of MAS Blanket Purchase Agreements for selected commodities and services. These BPAs can be used by all agencies to fulfill requirements. MAS BPAs leverage the government’s buying power and achieve significant cost savings through the aggregating of federal demand.

Comprehensive Professional Energy Services
GSA BPAs for Emergency Lodging Services
BPA for Performance Management/Continuous Process Improvement Services

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