IT Schedule 70 is a streamlined, convenient, money-saving and time-saving tool for government to obtain the commercial goods and services needed to satisfy requirements. The Coalition for Government Procurement (CGP) represents more than 300 firms selling commercial services and products to the federal government and advocates for common sense in government acquisition. According to Roger Waldron, CGP’s President, “the true value of the $16 billion IT Schedule 70 program is its ability to streamline acquisitions, making it easier for federal agency buyers as well as industry partners to transact business.”
Waldron maintains the sheer size of IT Schedule 70, along with the many features and capabilities offered, creates a cost-effective contract channel for government contractors to market their products and services. “Typically, bid and proposal costs are expensive. IT Schedule 70, with its pre-negotiated terms and conditions, along with the ability to use eBuy to post RFQs, enhances competition, streamlines response times, and improves communications for agency buyers and contractors. The Schedule allows suppliers to focus on agency statements of work, to speed the process of acquisitions,” he said.
Mentor-Protégé Program Delivers Small Business Opportunities
GSA’s Mentor-Protégé Program is designed to encourage and motivate GSA prime contractors to assist small businesses and enhance their performance on GSA contracts. The program is intended to foster the establishment of long-term relationships between small businesses and GSA prime contractors and increase the overall number of small businesses that receive GSA schedule awards. Under the Mentor-Protégé Program, eligible small businesses can act as suppliers or provide services or subcontractors for any prime contractor with an approved subcontracting plan negotiated with GSA. Protégé firms are selected by mentors, which can open new markets for their businesses, said Anthony Eiland, Program Manager of GSA’s Mentor-Protégé Program and Program Manager of Veterans Affairs Outreach Initiatives.
For firms that have never done business with GSA, this special program teaches them how GSA works and how to interact with other agencies, Eiland said. “Small businesses use this program to gain acceptance and viability as a contractor serving the needs of large federal agencies such as USDA,” he said.
Seven Benefits of Holding a GSA Schedule
1. Builds brand recognition by providing a ‘preferred vendor’ status.
2. Provides a door-opener into the government market.
3. Differentiates suppliers from non-Schedule vendors with same services and products.
4. Offers a multi-purpose contracting device.
5. Reduces contract time from solicitation to award. GSA has reported a reduction from 268 days under standard agency RFPs to 30 days under an IT Schedule 70 RFQ.
6. Increases the speed for the government to buy from industry partners. Saves time during the acquistion process.
7. Offers fastest and least expensive entry into public sector market.
- Source: GSA ITS
For mentors, the biggest benefit of the program is a strong sense of giving back, said William Jaffe, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Technical and Project Engineering LLC (TAPE), based in Alexandria, Va. TAPE is a mentor with one protégé. The company serves as a mentor to help smaller companies learn the ropes of selling through the GSA schedule. “Mentors typically start out seeking partner suppliers to fill out their small business set-aside requirement,” Jaffe said.
Gregory Olson, Associate Vice President of Operations at Catapult Technology Ltd., an IT services and management consulting firm based in Bethesda, Md., is a mentor to three protégé firms. “As a recent graduate of the 8(a) program, we are always seeking partners to build strategic teams that can help us meet agency small business/8(a) requirements,” he explained.
Customers and Industry Have Their Say
Customers and industry partners alike benefit from all that IT schedule 70 has to offer. Julia Lopez, Purchasing Manager of Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas at Austin, chose to purchase from GSA’s IT Schedule 70 because the approvalprocess was faster than seeking formal bids. The lab purchased custom configured high-performance servers and other IT equipment using the schedule program. “The beauty of GSA is the speed at which procurements can be approved without additional bidding,” said Lopez.
Discounted pricing was another incentive for UT Austin, along with pre-approved terms and conditions, which helps streamline the decision process for utilizing the program, she added. “I can count on solid service from the GSA Schedule holder to assist with an upgrade or reconfiguration if needed. I know he’ll stand behind his products with good customer service and support.”
In 2010, Hewlett-Packard did $500 million in business on the IT Schedule 70 contract, said Kitty Klaus, Senior Program Manager of GSA Programs for HP Enterprise Services. Klaus especially appreciates BPA programs due to the opportunity for long-term commitments with customers. “This allows us to work closely with government customers to provide the best possible pricing,” she explained.
With IT Schedule 70’s pre-established terms and conditions and fair and reasonable pricing, “we can focus more attention on the agency’s requirements in each schedule award,” she continued, adding that GSA eBuy is another key advantage because “we are able to see the RFQs from agencies all in one place.”
Ultimately the IT Schedule 70 program brings more competition and greater transparency to government acquisitions. “It’s a good value for customers, while also serving the needs of taxpayers,” Klaus said.
“I’m a big fan of the SmartBUY program,” said Roy Stephan, Vice President of Technology Solutions for Intelligent Decisions Inc., a Data at Rest (DAR) and situational awareness and incident response (SAIR) SmartBUY contract holder based in Ashburn, Va. Stephan is looking forward to more SmartBUY programs to help address the many regulations federal agencies must take into account during acquisitions. “GSA raises the bar for all industry partners by setting government-wide technical requirements in the SmartBUY program. This will ensure customers can quickly buy products and services that comply with known federal laws and regulations, without costly and redundant
acquisition evaluations,” he said.
John Keese, President of Autonomic a GSA cloud computing provider was first awarded a DAR, then a SAIR contract, and is now offering Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud computing on his roster of available solutions offered via the SmartBuy BPA program under IT Schedule 70. “SmartBuy BPAs help customers in federal, state and local governments to address key areas of concern regarding cyber security, and now cloud computing, by allowing them to purchase products and services that are pre-certified to meet stringent federal security requirements,” he said.
Particularly at the state and local government level, Keese said the key advantage of this program is avoiding a painful vetting process. States can now purchase a pre-vetted solution that complies with the Federal Information Security Management Act has been aggressively discounted to address government-wide requirements. “On their own, the states simply can’t achieve the same level of volume discounts they can find via the SmartBUY program,” he added.
— This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group, originally published at http://gcn.com/microsites/2011/gsa-schedule/4-industry-benefits-it-schedule-70.aspx.