At some point in your government contracting journey, you will wonder how to get on GSA schedule contracts. This siren song has attracted many a business, and while not every sailor who follows will crash on the rocks, those who don’t understand governmentwide contracts run a high risk of sinking their ships.
The truth is, GSA Schedule contracts can be hugely valuable and lucrative for your government contracting business. But the caveats are many, and if you don’t review each one you could find out that all the effort you spent in pursuit isn’t likely to provide much of a return in value.
That’s why we put this guide together. Not to tell you how to get on GSA Schedules per se, because that differs for every business. The purpose of this article is to help you decide whether getting a GSA schedule is right for you, because the answer may surprise you.
Let’s start with the basics!
What are GSA Schedules?
In simple terms, GSA Schedules are a catalog for government procurement, intended to reduce duplicative contracts across the federal government. These catalogs speed up the procurement process for commonly purchased goods and services like cleaning supplies and IT services. Companies that are awarded a spot on these catalogs have the opportunity to sell their listed products and services at pre-negotiated rates to federal agencies as well as some state agencies (on a schedule-by-schedule basis). Buying off of a schedule also allows the contracting professional to buy from your company without going through the tedious government solicitation process.
How Do Companies Get on GSA Schedule Contracts?
To get on a contract/schedule with the government, you do have to submit a proposal by following all the rules of GSA’s solicitation. But unlike other proposals where you have a deadline to submit, GSA schedule proposals have no due date, so you can submit any time!
Go to GSA’s multiple award schedule solicitation on beta.SAM.gov to review all the requirements and then determine which of the 12 service areas you want to pursue. If you have a lot of experience bidding on federal contracts, you should be able to navigate this solicitation package and create your own compliance matrix and proposal plan. You’ll need to include information about your past performances, quality assurances, and a general overview of your business while also ensuring that you read and comply with all the terms and conditions.
This can be a lengthy, time-consuming process. If you need some extra support, consider hiring a GSA Schedules expert to help you. Learn more by watching our recent webinar, How to Get on GSA Schedule Contracts, featuring industry expert Mary Ann Wangemann for a good primer on the process.
But before you start the process of responding to the solicitation, you need to know if the products and services you want to sell are even offered on the multiple award schedule program. How do you do that? Keep reading!
What Products and Services are Sold on GSA Contracts?
Last updated in FY2020, there are 12 categories of available product and service contracts. These include everything from Furniture to Transportation and Medical Products. Below is the full list of categories, with each expanding into subcategories as shown for product specifics. For example, the Office Management Category covers both mail management and Audiovisual products, which can all be further expanded. These 12 categories cover a lot of ground, so it will take some creativity to determine which fits your product or service sufficiently. Once you’ve found a category that works for you, you can be confident about investing time and effort into pursuing a place on the relevant GSA Schedule.
Should My Business Consider a GSA Schedule?
If you have a product or service that is already registered in GSA Schedules, it could be right for you. Once you are registered, the schedule can be used for its entire period of performance, presuming you meet the annual criteria for minimum revenue and maintain good standing on contractual performance.
Just keep in mind that, unlike standalone contracts, GSA schedules have multiple awardees, so you will still be competing with other firms offering the same or similar products and services that you offer. That’s why many in the government contracting industry refer to multiple award schedules as “hunting licenses.” Earning one is great, but it doesn’t guarantee you any revenue. You still need to identify target agencies, connect with buyers, and promote your business, and schedule offerings.
While you may get lucky from time to time as proactive government contracting professionals can directly reach out to schedule holders for contracts, that doesn’t happen often and is typically reserved for companies that are eligible for set-aside contracts.
If you are unable to find your products with GSA Schedules, you might find luck with the VA Federal Supply Schedule that focuses more on medical supplies. This is particularly true if you happen to be a veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned business, as VA has a rule of two constructs that requires them to award contracts to this particular community.
With the right tools and knowledge base, GSA Schedules can be an efficient method of contracting with the government and lucrative for your business. If you find a good product-market fit within any of the 12 service areas and are willing to put in the hard work and focus required to earn a place on the multiple award schedule, then we wish you the best of luck in your journey!