If you are a small business and want to do business with the Government with limited competition, then getting on a GSA Schedule is a great option for you to consider. The GSA Schedule, also known as Federal Supply Schedule (FSS), and Multiple Award Schedule (MAS), is a long-term governmentwide contract for commercial companies that provides access to millions of commercial products and services at fair and reasonable prices to the government.
Available offerings under the consolidated Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) are organized by large category, subcategory, and Special Item Number (SIN). The twelve (12) large categories are: Office Management Category, Facilities Category, Furniture & Furnishing Category, Human Capital Category, Industrial Products & Services Category, Information Technology Category, Miscellaneous Category, Professional Services Category, Scientific Management and Solutions Category, Security & Protection Category, Transportation and Logistics Services Category, and Travel Category. In this blog, we have explained some of the major challenges that small businesses face in getting on a GSA Schedule, and how they can overcome them.
Benefits of Getting on a GSA Schedule
MAS makes government buying easy and efficient with the use of modern technology to connect government buyers and industry. The U.S. Government is one of the largest customers in the world and contracts for over $500 billion in products and services each year – with $100 billion of that going directly to small businesses. Federal buyers overwhelmingly prefer to buy from vendors who have pre-approved contracts. They are the most commonly used pre-approved contracts and are the only contracts continuously open to new vendors. Obtaining a GSA Schedule provides Federal, State, and Local agencies with a direct way of purchasing your products and/or services quickly with limited paperwork, red tape, and competition. Over the past five years, sales to small businesses under the GSA MAS Contract have increased by approximately 23%. In the fiscal year 2020, small businesses took in more than $13.5 billion in sales through the GSA Schedule. With just under 12,000 small business contractors on GSA Schedules, average sales per small business exceeded $1.1 million. If your small business has experience selling to the government, whether directly or indirectly as a subcontractor, a GSA Schedule may help expand your government sales.
Challenges faced by Small Businesses
Getting on a GSA Schedule can often seem overwhelming for small businesses due to the detailed and often complex submission process. Even when small businesses get on schedule, they often find it challenging to tackle difficulties related to contract administration, including contract compliance, reporting, modifications, negotiations, novations, renewals, and other aspects of remaining competitive and compliant. Small businesses can face many difficulties when applying for a GSA schedule. Many of the applications are rejected due to various non-compliances, some of which are: incorrect Special Item Numbers (SINs), non-competitive pricing, past performance, rejection history, missing documentation, low revenue, etc.
GSA Contract Acquisition: Small business offerors often need help writing, assembling, facilitating, and negotiating a winning GSA Schedule contract. If you choose to pursue a Schedule contract, preparing your offer involves understanding and compiling the information and requirements documents to send an offer, reviewing and understanding your product and service offerings, and unique category requirements. This process also includes completing required training, sending an offer through the eOffer/eMod system. After this process, a GSA contracting representative will be assigned to review and evaluate your offer. GSA requires that you complete a mandatory Readiness Assessment and other training, that include a Pathway to Success training, to assist in evaluating whether or not you can be successful in the GSA Schedule program. This training is mandatory for offerors. The Readiness Assessment requires substantial research to complete; but when completed, it provides valuable insight into your chances for success.
GSA Contract Management: Maintaining a Schedule involves getting the latest refreshes, making necessary modifications as required, marketing your schedule, and staying compliant with GSA’s requirements for schedule holders. As a small business, you may require assistance from the experts to avail an integrated, end-to-end contract management solution for eliminating compliance risks, reducing administrative burdens, and maximizing your return on investment. Support might be required in the following areas:
- Conducting periodic mock audits to uncover areas of potential non-compliance and report with clear-cut actions to help avoid the risks of non-compliance and unfavorable audit results.
- Proactively tracking changes to the contracting environment
- Keeping you apprised of changes that could create risk or impact your profitability.
- Reducing Administrative Burdens
- Proactively processing contract modifications to keep your Schedule current and competitive.
- Ensuring to keep your most current & approved GSA Schedule price list published to GSAAdvantage!™
- Processing temporary price reductions to keep your price competitive.
- Assisting with Contractor Teaming Arrangements, Teaming Agreements, and Joint Venture Agreements.
- Accessing to MYGSA Portal
GSA Schedule Modifications: Small businesses often find it challenging to understand the process of eMods and Mass Mods that are used to modify a GSA Schedule, which is essential to keep a contract up to date and to stay compliant. Through the modification process, you can delete obsolete products from your offerings or update the pricing of items you continue to offer through your GSA Schedule. Some modifications can be very simple and straightforward, and others may be very complex. All of them require a careful and strategic review of how the modification can impact your business. You might need assistance for the following processes associated with modifications:
- Add/ delete products and services on your price list.
- Add/ delete Special Item Numbers (SINs)
- Solicitation Refreshes
- Mass Modifications
- TAA Compliance
- Economic Price Adjustments (EPAs)
- Temporary or Permanent Price Reductions
- Administrative modification including updating point contact or change of address.
- Changing or transferring of business ownership including novations and mergers
- Exercising the option to extend (see Contract Renewal)
GSA Schedule Catalog Management: GSA Schedule eCatalogs are living price lists that need to be updated as the prices of your products and services change. Keeping your approved Price List current on GSAAdvantage is one of the terms and conditions of your GSA Contract. As a small business, you may need help uploading and updating vendor eCatalogs, complying with the terms of your contract and staying focused on selling. It can be a challenge to register, publish and manage your GSA-approved price list on multiple eCatalogs quickly and efficiently. It often involves Schedules Input Program (SIP).
Contract Novation: If you have a GSA Schedule and your company has been acquired and absorbed by another company, or another company has purchased the assets of your company, including your GSA Schedule, or you have purchased the assets of or acquired a company with a GSA Schedule and expect to use it to do business with the Government, then you must get the Government’s consent to transfer the GSA Schedule through the execution of a formal “Novation Agreement.” Small businesses often need assistance early in the due diligence process in tackling any problems encountered during the novation process or after the Schedule has been transferred.
GSA Schedule Renewals: Due to the administrative burdens involved, small businesses sometimes find it cumbersome to coordinate the renewal process for their GSA Schedule, prepare and submit their Option to Extend, work with the GSA contracting officer throughout the review process, and coordinate responses to GSA’s requests for clarification, negotiating changes to terms and finalizing the award documents.
TAA Compliances: GSA Schedule-holders are required to comply with the Federal Trade Agreement Act (TAA). In the past, TAA was inconsistently enforced, but that has changed. TAA compliance enforcement is now a priority. The consequences for businesses that fail to comply include suspension or complete exclusion from Federal contracting (debarment). Competitors can protest if an awardee is found to violate TAA compliance, which can invalidate a contract award. Determining TAA compliance isn’t always simple. There are complex issues that can affect whether a product is compliant.
GSA Schedule Marketing: There are a number of ways to market your GSA Schedule and small businesses are not able to utilize all of them effectively. Firstly, you can use USASpending.gov and Schedule Sales Query Plus tools to research potential customers who have bought products/services similar to those you offer on your Schedule contract. Secondly, using the GSA logo to identify your Schedule contract to the government community is another way to market it. Thirdly, GSA eLibrary, GSA’s online source for the latest contract award information is a very good place to showcase your contract. Last but not the least, Schedule prices, labor categories, worldwide, or CONUS status are all listed in the “Contractor T&Cs/Price List,” which is uploaded to both eLibrary and GSA Advantage! Buyers use published price lists on eLibrary for budgeting and market research. Agencies rely on the accuracy of this information to identify companies that may be a good fit for the upcoming RFQ. An agency is unlikely to engage a company that does not keep this file up-to-date. Keeping this information current can help you market the Schedule even further. Further guidance might as well be required to fully unlock the potential of your GSA Schedule.
How could you get on a GSA Schedule?
Despite the challenges, getting on a GSA Schedule can be immensely beneficial for small businesses. The good news is that there are a number of service providers out there who can help you along the way, and streamline the complex process for you.
Our experts are available to you throughout the entire process to help you write, assemble, facilitate and negotiate a winning GSA Schedule contract. Our team of seasoned professionals undertakes 97% of the work to get your GSA Schedule contract awarded. Contact us today for a free analysis to find out if a GSA Schedule can help you win more Government business. If yes, you may choose to avail of our full-service solution that includes everything required to successfully develop and negotiate the award of your GSA Schedule contract as well as post-award compliance actions.