GSA Government Contracts: A $40+ Billion Pie You Can Opt In

GSA contract

For small businesses, a GSA contract is often a synonym to El Dorado, a mythical opportunity to become rich. Is becoming a GSA government contractor really so profitable? And does it really require so much effort that only a small share of companies succeed at this venture? Let’s find out.

What are GSA government contracts

First of all, there is nothing mystical about  federal government sales. Thousands of small businesses regularly sell to the government. In essence, a GSA contract is the same contract you would sign with buyers on the commercial market. At the same time, there are many differences, making GSA government contracts unique.

A GSA Schedule contract is a contract vehicle the government uses to purchase services and goods for various federal agencies. While you are not required to have a GSA contract to sell to the government, possessing one is seen by federal agencies as a sign of trust to your company from the government.

Types of GSA government contracts

There are several types of contracts, and some of them are easier to win than others. Specifically, GSA offers four set-aside contracts for small businesses in certain socio-economic categories:

Overall budget of federal government sales made via GSA contracts exceeds $45 billion. And more than $10 billion of this sum is generated by small business government contractors.  You could be one of them !

How to get a GSA government contract

A lot of work is required, but in the end getting a GSA government contract is no magic. Let’s take a look at basic steps to win a contract.

Get your business ready for government contracts

Before you can begin pursuing a GSA Schedule, you should do your homework and get your business ready for it.

  • Register your business. Only a legitimate business can work with the government. You must register at the System for Award Management to be able to pursue GSA contracts. In turn, registering at SAM.gov implies your company has a D.U.N.S. number, is assigned with a NAICS code, and is a legitimate tax payer.
  • Learn about GSA contracting. Start with a Federal Contracting Guide at SBA. Then, there are a number of educational materials at the GSA Vendor Support Center, which is always a great source of information. Research how the contracting system works, and you will avoid many pitfalls other vendors fall victim to.
  • Make sure you are ready. Start with obligatory training that includes Pathways to Success and Readiness Assessment training programs. Then, you can use our express test here, to see if your business qualifies for GSA sales.

Register with the GSA

Once you are ready to apply for a GSA contract, you can register at GSA and officially become a GSA government contractor. We’ve already covered this topic in our blog here and here.

To register with GSA you will need:

  1. Download the solicitation package. These documents contain requirements for  vendors, and templates of documents you will need to prepare.
  2. Prepare documents. You can find the complete list of required documents in the solicitation, but basically they are as follows:

·        Past Performance Evaluation

·        Price Proposal

·        Price Narrative

·        Technical Proposal

·        Subcontracting Plan (if applicable)

·        Hourly rates and Labour Category Matrix

·        Specific forms you need to fill out (depends on the solicitation)

For a more in-depth overview of documents you will need to prepare, please refer to our GSA contract preparation guide.

  1. Submit your proposal and the required documents via the GSA eOffer service.
  2. Arm yourself with patience and wait for a contracting officer to review your proposal. This may take up to 120 days.

Preparing a GSA proposal is a delicate process, and many vendors keep making the same mistakes with it over and over. Result? Offers get declined. Make sure to avoid these mistakes when composing your offer:

Reviewing your submission takes a while. End-to-end GSA Schedule application review typically takes 6-9 months. However, if discrepancies and mistakes are found in your proposal, a contracting officer will contact you for clarification. Sometimes this may require modifying your proposal and re-submitting it through the GSA eOffer/eMod system. So, on average, getting a GSA schedule may take up to a year or even more.

In order to become a GSA government contractor, your company must meet specific requirements. The most important ones of them are:

  • Your company must have been offering products and/or services in the proposed field for at least 2 years before you apply for a GSA contract.
  • Your company must not be in debt.
  • Your company must be compliant with the Trade Agreements Act.
  • Before your business is awarded, you must generate at least $100,000 in revenue each of the last two consecutive years, prior to the contract. Also, after you are awarded, you must generate at least $25,000 of sales via GSA each year, or your contract can be terminated.

Market to the government

When your proposal is finally approved, you will be awarded with a GSA contract. Nevertheless, the race does not end after you win a contract. In fact, this is only the beginning. Simply holding a contract will not allow you to take your piece of the $45 billion federal pie. Now, pull up your sleeves and get yourself ready for some hard work – you need to market your offer to the government. This includes:

  • Analyze competition and demand;
  • Monitor trends;
  • Get in touch with federal buyers and market to influencers directly;
  • Promote your company as a GSA government contractor by all available means;
  • Respond to RFQs submitted to federal buying platforms, eBuy and GSA Advantage;
  • Research business opportunities using various free and paid tools.

Carefully read our guide on how to market to the government as well as this and this articles.

Maintain your contract

The key to long-term success with the GSA is keeping your contract up-to-date, compliant. Constant post-award maintenance of your contract is needed. The goal is simple: keep your offers competitive, prices fair, and specifications up-to-date, and hence continue receiving the most from your GSA government contract.

If you fail to maintain TAA compliance, neglect  to demonstrate positive sales dynamics, or simply do not provide the best prices for federal buyers, GSA can terminate your contract prematurely. That is why maintaining your current GSA contract is of utter importance.

Capture GSA contract sales now!

In conclusion, this article is a very brief overview of how small businesses can benefit from GSA contracts. There is a lot more to learn and do. And the road is full of traps and pitfalls. Luckily, you are not alone. Third-party GSA consulting firms such as Price Reporter are ready to simplify your communication with the GSA, take the burden of monotonous paperwork from you, and facilitate effortless winning of a GSA government contract! Also, our professional GSA marketing specialists can help you with maintaining your contract and promoting your offer to federal buyers.

Also on pricereporter.com