To the uninitiated, “getting on the GSA Schedule” sounds like being signed up for a meeting or an event. In actuality, it’s one of the best ways for a federal government contractor to capitalize on existing relationships with the government and earn business from federal agencies.
What is the GSA Schedule?
GSA, the U.S. General Services Administration, manages a set of contracts with companies that have been vetted and approved to provide services to federal agencies. A contractor with this type of contract with GSA is said to “hold a GSA Schedule contract,” or “be on the GSA Schedule.”
To understand the advantages of being on the GSA schedule, you first need to understand how the government handles purchasing.
- Agency employees who need work or supplies make a purchasing request to their contracting officers.
- Contracting officers must then submit a request for proposals (otherwise known as an RFP) allowing suppliers to submit a proposal to be considered for the job.
- Over a period of weeks or (more often) months, proposals are submitted by suppliers and evaluated by the contracting officer, who ultimately awards the contract to the chosen supplier.
In most cases, the RFP process is long and arduous for both government employees and government contractors. Designed to balance the needs of the government with the fairness required to ensure that tax dollars are well-spent, the purchasing process by its nature requires a lot of time and a lot of effort.
The GSA Schedule concept allows agencies to speed up and simplify the procurement process for commercial supplies and services, without sacrificing the requirements of transparency and safeguarding of taxpayer dollars. Contracting officers may pre-evaluate GSA Schedule contractors. They also have the option of posting an opportunity only to GSA Schedule contractors, making the RFP process much faster by removing some of the required vetting needed for suppliers that aren’t on the Schedule.
What are the Advantages of the GSA Schedule for Government Contractors?
Clearly, being on the GSA Schedule is a tremendous advantage for government contractors. Being on the GSA Schedule offers the following opportunities:
- Becoming a known entity makes it easier to sell your products or services to the federal government. Having a GSA Schedule contract demonstrates to your potential customers that you have been pre-vetted and approved for contracting with the federal government
- There is a much shorter time-to-close on GSA Schedule task and delivery orders than in a full and open procurement. GSA Schedule tasks are typically issued two to three weeks after the RFQ is published, while typical contracts can take nine months to a year from RFP issuance to selection and work beginning.
- Once you hold a a GSA Schedule contract, your are granted access to contracting opportunities that are exclusive to GSA Schedule holders through the GSA eBuy system, and you receive a listing in the GSA Advantage database. This listing significantly raises your visibility because procurement teams will often search this database for potential contractors in order to simplify the acquisition process.
What Do I Need to Know About Being on the GSA Schedule?
Getting on the GSA Schedule is a big advantage for businesses that want to serve the federal government, but it does require some special considerations for businesses.
In order to get on the GSA Schedule, a business must demonstrate certain eligibility criteria. Criteria includes:
- At least two years in business or information that indicates the organization’s capabilities
- At least $25,000 in revenue per year
- And the ability to offer the products and services the Federal Government buys, such as building services, infrastructure, supplies, IT services, and consulting.
Once you demonstrate eligibility and your proposal is accepted and you sign a GSA Schedule contract, you’ll need to make sure that your business is protected while working with the government.
For example, GSA Schedule contractors need to be careful about the prices they set. In order to get on the Schedule, contractors are required to offer the government the same or better prices than they would offer their “most favored customer” under similar terms. What does that mean? It means should you reduce your prices to your most favored customer or customers, you may be required to update your government pricing as well. If you aren’t careful, you may inadvertently end up dropping your price to the point that it’s no longer sustainable for your business. That’s just one reason why it’s so important to plan your GSA Schedule submissions carefully.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and get on a GSA Schedule, Randolph Law can help. Our legal consulting services can give you the tools you need to get listed and protect and grow your business in the process. Contact us today to learn more!