What are the best GSA certifications for small and medium-sized business

GSA Schedule certification is the informal name for the process of fulfilling the requirements for becoming a government contractor and obtaining a GSA Schedule contract. In this article we explain what the best GSA certifications are if you own a small or medium-sized business.

Check if you Qualify to be a GSA Contractor

What is GSA Certification

General Services Administration is a federal agency that governs the majority of governmental contracts on the federal markets, and the GSA Schedule is a primary and recommended procurement vehicle for thousands of federal, state and municipal organizations.

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a GSA certificate (except for SBA 8a certification, see below). However, informally a GSA vendor that is certified by the GSA is granted the right to sell its products and services to the government. GSA certification is then a process that every GSA vendor must complete, in order to sell on the federal market. The process involves meeting certain requirements, preparing the obligatory package of documents and submitting them to the GSA for review, price, terms and conditions negotiation and, finally, an award. If successful, you can call yourself a GSA certified contractor.

Who qualifies for a small business status

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), a business is qualified as small if it has less than 500 employees, although for some industries the threshold is higher. Also, the annual receipts of your business must not exceed $7.5 million.

In addition to these general requirements, the SBA also qualifies some types of businesses as disadvantaged if they fall into some specific socioeconomic categories. The SBA runs a support program for such disadvantaged businesses: the SBA 8a Business Development Program. If a vendor is 8a certified, it receives certain specific benefits as a disadvantaged business, including set-aside contracts and sole-source contracts.

GSA Schedule Advantages | What are the advantages of being SBA 8a certified?

SBA 8a certifications benefit your business a lot. First of all, as an owner of a disadvantaged business you are entitled to an expedited application procedure. Also, the government sets aside at least 5% of all contracts to disadvantaged businesses as a part of the SBA 8a Program. 

Another advantage include exclusive training programs, marketing assistance, and a dedicated Business Opportunity Specialist that helps you to develop your business as well as to get the most from your GSA contract. You can pursue joint ventures with other businesses or exclusively communicate with experts when you need assistance with certain compliance or pricing issues. Needless to say, an 8a GSA certified vendor gets all of these for free.

How to get GSA certified

Getting a GSA- approved status requires you to meet certain obligatory requirements and then apply for the GSA certification process.

What does “GSA-approved” mean?

Basically, this is another informal term that means you are allowed to offer your products or services to the government institutions via the GSA Schedule procurement vehicle. GSA certification by the government implies that a vendor has successfully fulfilled all the requirements and regulations; the terms, conditions and prices are negotiated; and the necessary quality level of its products/services has been established and guaranteed within the GSA contract.

How to become GSA approved?

For small and medium sized businesses, the obligatory requirements are (we are talking about 8a certification here):

  • Your business must be small to get started (see above on what businesses qualify as small business)
  • You must be a first-time participant
  • Your small business must be disadvantaged. That is, at least 51% of your business must be owned and controlled by one or more disadvantaged categories, that is a women-owned small business, a veteran-owned small business, a HUBZone business and so on.
  • The owner of your business must have a clean criminal record
  • All standard requirements to qualify as a GSA contractor, including two years in business, not be in debt, have experience in the field, and so on.

When all the requirements are met, you can apply for GSA certification. You will need to register on the Small Business Administration web-portal, and then submit your application for certification. On average, a submission takes 3-4 months to review. However, the result is certainly worth the effort. If successful, you will be enjoying the SBA 8a certification for nine years in total, of which the first 4 years are considered a development stage.

If you need assistance with SBA 8a certification or GSA approval of your business, please visit the website of Price Reporter – a seasoned expert in the government contracting field. We will be glad to help you fulfill the requirements of GSA certification and help you win the most lucrative contracts as a small business.

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