As a business person pursuing government contracts, you may have heard about the benefits of having a GSA Schedule. But you may not know what a Schedule contract involves — or whether it’s worth your while to pursue one. This article presents you with the facts about a GSA Schedule, how to qualify, and the decisions you need to make.
Consider the Facts
Here are some facts to help make an informed decision.
First of all, “GSA” stands for the General Services Administration, a federal agency which awards, each year, about $50 billion in blanket contracts (known as “Schedules”) to hundreds of companies. Eighty percent (80%) of Schedule contractors are small businesses who are successful at winning 36% of those sales.
The process to win a GSA Schedule contract begins with your preparation of a proposal. This is a demanding task that can take several months to prepare. Many businesses choose to hire a consultant to prepare their proposal, even though proposal preparation is actually something that just about anyone can do — if you are willing and able to follow detailed proposal preparation instructions.
Qualifying for a Schedule
Not every business qualifies for a GSA Schedule, so before preparing a proposal, you first should determine your eligibility. Here are the major requirements:
- Your company must have at least two years’ experience in successful sale of the products and/or services you offer.
- Your company and its corporate officers must have a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics.
- You must make sure all your NAICS codes are accurate and reflect the type of services that you plan to offer on your GSA Schedule.
- Your registration in the System for Award Management (SAM) must be active and up-to-date.
- You must be willing to obtain a “digital certificate” (at a cost of about $119) so that GSA can authenticate your electronic signature and allow you to upload and access your proposal documents.
- Your company must have adequate financial resources to perform a federal contract, or you must have the ability to obtain them.
If you meet the requirements listed above, then it’s appropriate to chart a course of action. Here are some things to consider:
- If you decide to hire a consultant to help you navigate the proposal process, please proceed with caution. You should be aware of the fact that no consultant can do 100 percent of the work for you. In fact, it’s desirable that someone from your company actively participates in the GSA Schedule proposal process. Your company representative will need to compile a lot of information to be included in the proposal and also needs to carve-out enough time to learn the process, develop a relationship with GSA’s contracting officials, and make strategic decisions about how and to which government agencies the eventual contract will be marketed. A consultant can play a valuable role but, before hiring one, make sure you investigate their experience, ask about their track-record, and have a clear understanding of exactly what they will do for you and at what price.
- Attending a GSA training session can help you better understand the GSA Schedule process. The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) regularly offers a free webinar entitled “Understanding the GSA Schedule Process.” Visit GTPAC’s training calendar at http://gtpac.ecenterdirect.com/Conferences.action to register for the next session. GTPAC also has compiled a group of resources for companies seeking help with the Schedule process. You can find these resources at: http://gtpac.org/gsa-schedule-resources.
- GTPAC’s professional education partner — The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech — now offers a comprehensive, hands-on, two-day workshop where each participant receives personal help in completing their actual GSA Schedule proposal. In addition, four hours of professional consulting is included in this workshop’s fee. For details, please visit: http://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/2013/12/new-workshop-makes-gsa-schedule-proposal-possible-in-as-little-as-two-days. For questions about this workshop, you can contact a member of the Academy’s consulting team at 404-662-2331 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to discuss your GSA Schedule needs and options with any GTPAC Counselor. You can find our contact information at: http://gtpac.org/team-directory.