What You Should Know About GSA Contracts
So: you’re interested in government contracting, but you’re not exactly crazy about filling out a complicated bid every time you want to work with a federal agency. You’ve got better things to do than agonizing over a lot of red tapes with every project you try to work on, right?
Well, if you can work with the General Services Administration (GSA contracts), you’ve got other options. The GSA is mostly concerned with government real estate and infrastructure. For the most part, this means building, managing, and maintaining government buildings, but the GSA is also responsible for the government’s real estate needs.
(But if you’re not in construction or real estate, don’t let that turn you off GSA contract work. I’ll explain later, but with the GSA schedule you can work with any government agency.)
If you’re interested in a GSA contract, you’ll want to know about their Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts. I’ll tell you more in just a minute, but for now, you should know that MAS contracts add up to about $48 billion of government expenditures annually. That’s over 10 percent of all federal procurements!
Interested? Well, then come along with me and I’ll let you know all about MAS contracts and how your firm can get one.
What’s a Multiple Award Schedule Contract?
First off, you should know that there are many names for MAS contracts. You can get a full list here, but a few of the more common names you’ll hear are GSA Approved, GSA Schedule, and Federal Acquisition schedule. They’re all the same thing.
The GSA website defines the GSA schedule as “a government-wide, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts.”
It’s government-wide because once you qualify, you’re able to apply the contract to work with any federal agency. Let me repeat that: the GSA contract is issued by the GSA, but it can be used to get work with any federal agency whatsoever.
Indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity means the contract is open-ended. The GSA contracts last five years (with the possibility of renewal out to 20 years), and it allows you to work with any government agencies. When you get the contract, your rates for government work are fixed. This means it’s much easier to land government contracts once you’ve got the GSA schedule.
Multiple Award Schedule means it’s possible for many companies to have the contract. Approximately 19,000 firms are on the GSA schedule (80 percent of which are small businesses).
Alright, so now I’ve told you what it is, but why should you be interested in it? Well, I’ll tell you.
Why Should I Bother?
The biggest advantage of being on the GSA schedule is that it makes landing government work easier and faster for everyone involved. No matter what agencies you’re planning on working with, the GSA schedule streamlines the process for you. In some cases, it can even help you get work with state and local governments!
When you’re on the GSA schedule, there’s much less need to compete with other firms over GSA contracts. The pool of eligible firms is much smaller, so it’s a lot easier to win the contracts you’re interested in. In addition, since you fixed your rates when you got the contract, your sales process is much shorter and simpler than normal bidding with government agencies.
Working under a GSA contract also means you have the chance to work with the GSA Advantage program. GSA Advantage has a database where your goods and services are listed and made available to federal agencies. With your listing on the GSA Advantage site, you can win government contracts without the hassle of self-promotion.
With the possibility of landing more work faster, you should definitely consider a GSA schedule if your firm is planning on taking on more public sector projects. There’s no competition requirement for GSA contracts, so it’s a much easier process for you and the agency you serve.
How Can I Get a GSA Contracts?
All right, so I’ve talked you into giving it a shot. Now you want to know how you can get on board.
The bad news is, working with the government means working with the government—which means there’s a lot of red tapes involved. Applying for a GSA contract is a months-long process. The GSA provides a list of recommendations for firms that are planning on winning GSA schedules.
First off, they recommend two years of experience in federal contracting. That means if you’re not yet a government contractor, you’ll want to get your SAM registration and your DUNS number and get started that way. (If you’re looking for some tips on how to become a government contractor, we’ve got our own article right here.)
If you have been contracting with the government for a while, you should still realize that it can be a long and difficult process to get on the schedule. The GSA offers a set of tips on how to get on the schedule, and there are plenty of services available to guide you through the process.
I’ll admit it: getting onto the GSA schedule can seem like a daunting task, whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced government contractor. You’re going to have to make some important decisions about your firm’s direction before you jump on board. If you’re committed to getting your firm onto the schedule you can make it eventually. Just bear in mind that it’s a months-long process and many firms don’t get accepted with their first application.
The GSA Contracts Opportunities are Waiting for You
With $48 billion, or over 10 percent of annual federal procurements running through MAS contracts, it’s definitely worth your while to get one if you can. Add to that the fact that you can secure a MAS contract for five years—with the potential to renew out to 20 years—and it’s a wonder you’re not already applying!
But the best reason you need a MAS contract is that once you’re accepted, you’ll have a much easier time winning individual contracts for your firm. You’ll make for an easier bidding process and deal with much less competition over contracts. If you plan on building a long-term business relationship with the GSA, a MAS contract is really a no-brainer!
The application process can be demanding, true. But the high standards for MAS contracts mean that only the very best firms are allowed in. There are a number of services on the market to help firms like yours get access to this exclusive group. If your firm’s got a proven track record (especially a record including past work with government contracts) you’ve got a fighting chance at landing a potential twenty years of work.
And once you’ve landed that contract, be sure to stop by TendersPage to keep track of the latest procurements. With as many as 50,000 biz opportunities being added to our database every day, you’ll get a crack at government work before the competition does. Remember: you deserve a tender today!