The General Services Administration (GSA) is the bulk purchasing division of the federal government. What does this mean? It means that anyone in any location within the federal government can buy any “Commercial Off-the-Shelf” (COTS) product or service from your company by simply going online and ordering through a shopping cart.
Think “Amazon” for government buyers – any quantity that you allow, at pricing you set, without having to go through the normal contracting processes.
GSA Stands for General Services Administration. They are the entity of our government that oversee the GSA Schedule program and award the coveted 5-year Multiple Award Schedule (MAS Contract), aka “GSA contracts”. GSA Schedules are initially awarded for 5 years and then renewable for 3 consecutive 5 year terms.
What is a GSA/MAS contract?
Let’s put it this way; Imagine if the largest buyer in the world had a secret way for small to medium sized businesses to circumvent all of the red tape and do business DIRECT with the small business owner without the hordes of forms and paperwork. Now imagine if they loved this secret program because it was faster and far less risky and included guaranteed fast payment to vendors, who by the way, are averaging more than $2,000,000 per year in revenue! Got it? Well that is the plain definition of the GSA Schedule Contract. It shouldn’t be a secret; however, many small businesses do not realize it exists and typically, do not understand how all of this works.
The GSA Schedule program represents the fastest and most affordable way for businesses to win lucrative federal contracts. But you must “win” the contract by completing the GSA’s massive application and navigating through all of the different requirements to get this contract awarded. The process includes a negotiation of terms and conditions. Getting all of your registrations, certifications in place to name a few. The result has been compared to a “master services agreement”.
How is the GSA program possible?
The program’s concept is very simple. You must be in business at least 2 years, have grossed at least $150,000 in sales, have happy customers and be willing to offer the federal government your best unit price. Once you win your initial 5 year contract, you are now considered an elite vendor with some of your pricing preapproved, obviously it works differently for service providers. Your products and/or services are cataloged in the GSA E-Library for easy review by buyers and procurement officers. But don’t get too excited, yet. While the GSA does guarantee that they will utilize your contract, getting into the program is not easy. Many companies have thrown hundreds of thousands of dollars and several years into winning only to come up short. The GSA rejects some businesses at least once. Their requirements are difficult to interpret, and they change the language in their solicitation many times throughout the process. Amidst the process there are also refreshes. These are when they decide they are going to change something in the schedule if you miss this you will surely be rejected. We keep our finger on the pulse of Government, so we are in the know. While you are exchanging some of your commercial work for Government work. We at Government Services Exchange keep this process running expeditiously and proficiently.
How do I get on GSA Schedule?
For businesses that win their 5 year contract, they are now playing in the largest spending sandbox on Earth. Just last year the GSA spent more than $34 BILLION in this program with small businesses. They are projecting significant increases in spending over the next 10 years as more agencies move more of their budget into the GSA Schedule program. Last year we saw a 22% increase in spending on the GSA Schedules. Due to shutdowns and more money to be spent in a shorter period of time the GSA Schedules because it is a quick way to spend money becomes essential to buyers. That said, the fact is there are not enough vendors to handle that much spending. And for the business owner that desires to find target rich markets to sell more stuff into, that is music to the ears. More demand than supply. And that vacuum will be filled. The upside is too significant to ignore.
Getting the contract awarded is, of course, going to be harder than you think, cost more than you would like and be more frustrating than anything else you will ever do for your business. Just finding the starting line is going to be tough. Find and download the solicitation. It is different for every industry. There are more than 35 unique schedules including the medical schedules managed by the Veterans Administration. Start there. Review the categories and determine if and how much of your products and/or services are being bought. Are your competitors there? How many companies does the GSA already have under contract in your market? You need to do an assessment. This can take time, expertise and cost money. Then find the buyers as well to let them know who you are so they can spend money with your company once on schedule. Let us do the heavy lifting for you and help your company see if you qualify for the GSA Schedule today.