This is a “how to” squeezed down to the very essence of how a small or mid-sized business can obtain a GSA schedule.
All you need to know about GSA Schedule right now
What is GSA?
The GSA, (General Services Administration) is an independent agency of the United States government that helps managing and supporting the basic functioning of federal agencies. Simply put, it is GSA that provides office space for federal employments, fulfills their transportation and communication needs, and purchases everything federal and local agencies need, from hardware and equipment to furniture and office supplies.
What is GSA Schedule?
GSA Schedule is a long-term contract offered by the government to commercial companies. GSA uses Schedules to purchase high-quality products and services at fair and competitive prices. And for a business, becoming a GSA Schedule contractor is a huge success thanks to the direct access to the government contracting community with overall spending over $33 billion per year.
Here is why GSA Schedule is important for your business
If you’re wondering, whether you should apply for a Schedule, here are three major reasons why you should:
- The market is huge. As said above, overall spending within the Multiple Awards Schedule (MAS) is massive. It revolves around $33 billion since 2015 and shows no signs of weakening. This is more than the entire budget of the Department of Justice! Even a tiny part of this sum can be life-changing for your business.
- GSA needs (almost) everything.The complete list of GSA Schedules covers virtually every business sphere, almost every service and product a business could offer. This means, there’s a place for your company’s products and services.
- Most contracts are 5-years. If a GSA certified company wins a Schedule, it is allowed to provide its services to any federal, local and state government organizations for five years.
How to apply for a GSA contract?
Now, let’s get to the point. You know GSA Schedule is a great opportunity for you, but how do you obtain a GSA Schedule contract?
The process requires a lot of steps and each step should be done with maximum accuracy, as even a single typo or a form filled with a mistake results in rejection of your offer. Provided the review of each offer is lengthy, it is vital to do everything correctly from the beginning.
Register your business
Get DUNS here, register at SAM here, and get a NAICS code from here. Having all these, register your business at Central Contractor Registration system. This is required for all businesses that want to sell to the government agencies.
Determine the size of your business using your NAICS code and make a research on what Schedules and Special Item Numbers (SIN) match your type of business. The idea behind this research is that if you apply for a GSA contract, you must be 100% sure that you comply with its requirements.
Pass the required training
GSA requires potential contractors to complete obligatory training before submitting your documents for a GSA Schedule offer: Pathways to Success and Readiness Assessment. Actually, this does pay off because you’ll know common mistakes and pitfalls of the certification process, both pre- and post-award.
Preparing and submitting documents
Now, you are ready to provide offer documents to GSA. Here is a step-by-step:
Prepare all necessary documents
Depending on the exact Schedule, your offer may need a different set of documents you are required to provide. For example:
- Price proposal. Depending on the type of contract you have selected, you should fill the appropriate price proposal template. You may also provide any additional narrative commenting your price statements.
- Past 2-year financial statements. The government wants to hire services from financially stable businesses only. The bare minimum is a balance sheet and income statement.
- Technical proposal. Provide any technical information required by a specific SIN. May also include your past experiences and examples of your work.
- Legal documents. Commercial Service Agreements, End User License Agreement and so on.
- Letter of Supply. Required if you are not the manufacturer of the product(s) being proposed, but a vendor.
The exact list of paperwork you need to provide depends on the Schedule and specific SIN.
Past performance evaluation
Federal agencies want and are required to work with financially stable offerers that provide the best value for the factors mentioned in the GSA solicitation. One of such factors is past performance. Past Performance Evaluation (PPE) means providing at least 4 feedbacks from your past clients. The lack of such feedbacks or their low score will cause rejection of the offer.
Use eOffer to submit documents for review. The review process usually takes at least one month, but can easily take four times longer. Generally, the duration of the review process depends on many factors and especially on how accurate and complete the offer is.
The review is handled by a GSA Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO) assigned to you. Upon submission, the PCO examines your offer for any issues and inconsistencies. If any price or offer negotiation is required, the contracting officer may appoint a call or a meeting with the representative of the vendor.
Getting GSA Schedule approved
The GSA certification process is time and effort-consuming with a number of pitfalls that may ruin months of preparation to GSA Schedule.
Formal requirements to a business
In order to get an accreditation from GSA, the company must comply with the following requirements:
- At least 2 years in business. Most GSA contracts can only be taken by established businesses that operate several years on the market.
- Revenue of $100,000+/[Д1] per year. Your company must generate at least this amount in revenue in each of the last two consecutive years. Some Schedules may require higher amounts.
- The company is not in debt.
- TAA compliance. Products and Services the company offers should be produced in TAA compliant countries.
- Specific requirements. Some Schedules may require specific skills or experience from the contractor. Make sure to refer to the GSA solicitation for exact details.
GSA Schedule offer review duration
Typically, the process of obtaining a GSA contract takes about one year from the first steps to the award. This includes registering the company, preparing documents, submitting documents, negotiating details, waiting for the review process to complete, and award.
Typical reasons for rejection
- Missing or wrong format of Letters of Supply
- Uncompetitive prices. Basically, you should use the Most Favorable Customer pricing principle, that is offer the same prices to GSA as you do commercially.
- Products/Services that are out of the schedule scope. That is why you should examine SIN(s) thoroughly and select the one that best matches your products.
- Inaccurate price proposal spreadsheet.
- Missing documents
- Incomplete training courses
- Inactive SAM account
- and many others
Becoming a GSA Schedule Contractor means your company is now qualified to sell to government agencies and is listed in federal online shopping systems such as GSA Advantage. Put efforts into marketing, analyze spending at USASpending.gov, and boost product quality to get more government customers and sell more via GSA Schedule.