How to Become a GSA Schedule Contractor

Being a GSA Schedule contractor is a special and potentially very lucrative opportunity. But where to start from? What if you have but commercial market experience and the government market sounds all Greek to you ? Don’t worry! In this FAQ we will shed some light onto the whole government contracting matter.

Check if you Qualify to be a GSA Contractor

What Research Should I Do Before Starting the GSA Schedule Acquisition?

Let’s face it: GSA contracting is complex. There are dozens of regulations, laws, acts and acronyms you need to learn about before you even start to understand what this is all about. However, after completing the obligatory GSA training you won’t feel clueless anymore. And your very first step after that is research.

  1. Read the solicitation. The MAS solicitation documents provide plenty of information about the contract vehicle itself and its exact requirements. Make sure to carefully read every single page of it. The Schedules are now consolidated, so the Multiple Award Schedule solicitation package becomes even more vital for prospective GSA contractors than ever.
  2. Research the federal market. Just like any other market, the federal marketplace has its daily weather and global climate. It is a good idea to conduct an in-depth research of what products and services were demanded by various federal agencies in the past, and adjust your strategy accordingly. There are a number of tools to help you do this including USAspending.gov and FPDS.
  3. Study your competition. Investigating your competitors can provide you a galore of useful information including their price strategy, strengths and weaknesses, positioning, product range and so on. It is not enough to just compete with other vendors, you must also be competitive.
  4. Build up your strategy. Armed with intelligence data, you can now develop your marketing strategy to target competitor’s weakest points and at the same time deliver quality products to fulfill the needs of federal buyers. We know, this may sound vague for the time being , but as you learn more about GSA Schedule and contracting, you will understand what your strategy should be.

How Do I Prepare my GSA Schedule Offer?

After the research phase is complete, but before you actually submerge into the whole new ocean of GSA Schedule contracting, you need to make sure your business is eligible for a GSA Schedule contract in the first place.

The following are GSA requirements to new GSA contractors.

  1. At least two years in business in the industry you will be offering service or products to the government. This must be confirmed by the corresponding financial statements.
  2. Proper registration. Your business can only sell to the government if it is properly registered. You need to register at the System for Award Management, you must have a D.U.N.S. number, you need to obtain a digital certificate to be able to bid for government contracts etc.
  3. Commercially available products. You cannot offer to the government something you didn’t sell before on the commercial market.
  4. Financial stability. Your company must display a stable financial shape with a confirmed revenue of at least $100,000 / year for two consecutive years prior to the date of application.
  5. Pathway to success. This is the name of the obligatory training designed to help new contractors understand the GSA market better, and to decide if their company matches the GSA requirements.
  6. Good Past Performance Report. The government assesses the reputation of your company on the market by evaluating its Past Performance.

If you meet all the criteria, you will need to gather several documents for your offer. The list of documents is rather long and includes among other things:

  • Financial documents of your company
    • Organizational and title documents
    • Catalogs
    • Price lists and price narratives justifying your prices
    • Labor categories
    • Technical proposal

All these documents are organized into three sections of the GSA Schedule offer: Administrative, Technical and Pricing. Every document a solicitation mentions is important, so make sure the form and the matter of submitted documents stringently match the requirements of the solicitation.

How Do I Submit My GSA Schedule Offer?

Gathering all the required documents and filling out all the required forms can take quite a while. But once you are done, you can submit your GSA Schedule offer using the GSA eOffer system. The account in the system will be created once you register with the GSA. The eOffer system is now the only way to submit your offers to the GSA.

GSA Will Review Your Offer

After you click the “Submit” button, your order comes to the GSA for a review. First, an assigned contracting officer will review the offer in general. Many offers are declined on this stage because of errors in submission documents. If the offer passes the initial review successfully, the contracting officer will get back to you to negotiate specific terms of the offer and prices.

The GSA wants fair and reasonable prices and the best quality for its buys, so the review stage is utterly important for your success as a GSA contractor. Nevertheless, reviewing can easily take 10-12 months, so be patient.

Last, but not least – submitting your offer does not guarantee you will be awarded. That is why it is particularly important to prepare all the documents without errors. Sometimes you are better off hiring an agency to help you do this.

What Do I Need to Do to Maintain My GSA Contract?

The race starts after your first GSA Schedule award. But success requires constant maintenance of your contract. In fact, keeping your contract information, pricelist up to date and compliant to Federal Acquisition Regulations is equally if not more important than getting a GSA contract.

Here are some key aspects you should keep an eye on.

  1. Compliance. One of the trickiest parts of GSA Schedule contract maintenance. During the entire period of validity of your GSA contract you must make sure it remains compliant to certain Acts, such as the Trade Agreements Act or the Service Contract Act. Staying compliant is crucial, because failing to do this may result in termination of your contract.
  2. Minimum annual sales. This is the reason why 80% of contractors fail. In order to sell in the government marketplace, you need to… sell on the government marketplace. Specifically, you must make at least $25,000 in sales in the initial 24 months and every year after that.
  3. Report sales. You are required to report sales made through the GSA Schedule contract. You must also remit the Industrial Funding Fee to the GSA. There are two ways to track and report sales: monthly or quarterly.
  4. Actual and competitive pricing. Your GSA Advantage price list must be up-to-date, and prices must be fair and competitive. Note that you typically cannot sell to the government if your commercial prices are lower than those listed in your GSA price list.
  5. Marketing. You need to make constant marketing efforts to promote your products or services to federal buyers. The principles of GSA marketing are the same as on the commercial market, but there are specifics.

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