by Karen Krymski | Florida PTAC at USF | October 5, 2018
Many of the government contracting clients that we see at the Florida SBDC at USF anticipate that getting on the General Services Administration (GSA) schedule is the only option to gain contracting dollars from the federal government.
As in many cases, this question can only be answered by several other questions. When a client comes in, we do a bit of research first by asking:
- How is the product/service usually purchased in the federal system? Is the item another GWAC? Is it purchased by definitive contract? How much is purchased? I use the FPDS.gov tool to get a quick overview of the history of purchases, the agency(ies) who are buying, how the item/service is being procured and who is doing most of the selling (primes).
- But, before the GSA question can be answered, several questions about the business’ history must also be evaluated. First, has the company already sold the items in the enterprise market (you must have invoices to back this up for a GSA schedule—except for the IT 70). For the most part, the GSA likes to see a two-year history in business, but this is not always true. Another question that should be taken into consideration is whether or not the company sold to the federal government before getting the GSA.
So, let’s assume that the company has been in business for more than two years. They’ve been moderately successful with invoices to back up their sales but they have no federal sales and are looking at this as their “on-ramp.” At this point, I may suggest that they focus on two to three appropriate federal agencies that buy what they sell to gain federal contracting experience before they proceed with the GSA process. These sales will provide an introduction to the government and the opportunity to determine if they want to proceed with applying for a GSA schedule. And, a key point – once a GSA schedule is awarded, the business must obtain $25,000 worth of business against the contract within the first 24 months and an additional $25,000 each 12 months thereafter or the federal government has the right to cancel the contract.
The GSA provides very good information on their website and I suggest that the company review the links and watch the webinars that are provided for that purpose.
The website will tell you that the process of obtaining a GSA is complex. If the company does not have the human capital or needs coaching, a consultant could cost $4,000 or more to assist in the process. The company must understand that they will be responsible for pulling a great deal of the paperwork together, even if a consultant is hired.
So, what are some key points to consider if a GSA application is in your future?
- You must have two project history invoices for each of the Special Item Numbers (SIN’s) under the specific GSA that you’re looking to obtain. The invoices should show the price history. Keep in mind that the federal government will want the “best friend” price, and even your best price may still need to be negotiated for you to be competitive. I usually use the GSA e-library to check out competitors’ pricing and determine what the “best” price might be (or a range).
- The GSA application must include a named authorized negotiator for the company. It’s important that they understand their role. Even if you use a consultant to assist in the process, the company will still need to name an authorized negotiator.
- If you are a reseller, you will need a letter from the dealer(s) that you are representing.
If you are considering a GSA, the best option is to start with one GSA and one SIN and advance as appropriate. SIN numbers can be added to the GSA, so there’s no need to think you have to include everything now. just in case. When in doubt, enlist local professionals to help guide you through the process.
This Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency.