The General Services Administration (GSA) is the centralized procurement arm of the federal government. Its purpose is to establish long-term contracts between private businesses and agencies to provide billions of dollars of products, professional services, equipment, supplies telecommunications, and IT to federal agencies serving the public. Over 12,000,000 commercial items are made available each year through over 19,000 GSA Schedule contracts… totaling about $50 billion in annual spending.
The government also uses the GSA Schedules Program to reach their small business set-aside goals. Each fiscal year, government agencies are required to spend 23% of their dollars purchasing from small businesses. The GSA is a great way for agencies to reach their goals because it makes purchasing products and services easier than creating and putting out a solicitation on their own. A Schedule purchase can be completed in just a few steps, while a solicitation may take the better part of a year.
This all means that the GSA offers businesses the opportunity to sell billions of dollars worth of products and services directly to government agencies.
Through the Office of Small Business Utilization, the GSA promotes healthy and natural competition in the marketplace and strives to reach out and support small businesses with training, counseling, set-aside opportunities, roundtables and procurement conferences. In fact, nearly 80 percent of all GSA contractors are small businesses.
Getting started working with the GSA to make more money isn’t difficult. The GSA website offers a simple outline of the steps needed to benefit from this business opportunity for the private sector as follows:
- Find available opportunities with the government relevant to their business
- Make necessary preparations for bidding on a GSA contract
- Submit an offer
The GSA recommends you first visit the Federal Business Opportunities website and register your business to be notified of contract opportunities; you also need to register your business before submitting an offer for doing work with the GSA.
Next, start by doing a little bit of research at the GSA eLibrary, where you can search for your business’s products or services and get a feel for what schedules exist and which other businesses sell similar products to your own. You should also review the Getting on Schedule page in order to fully understand the process involved in obtaining a GSA Schedule contract.
Supplies and services are ordered directly from GSA Schedule contractors or through the GSA Advantage online shopping and ordering system. Customers who purchase from the GSA Schedules Program approved vendors benefit from savings, flexibility and choice, shorter lead times, lower administrative costs, and reduced inventories. Customers don’t have to jump through any hoops to make their purchases, as all orders are considered to be issued using full and open competition fees. It’s easy to see why becoming a GSA approved vendor is very appealing to the thousands of small businesses and agencies.
Still to succeed in government contracting you need to thoroughly research the opportunity and plan your bid strategies carefully. Some key steps to success with the GSA are:
- Define your expertise
- Determine those products and services that reflect your expertise
- Provide quality products and services. It’s good to remember that the government is searching to contract for the best value and not just the lowest price.
- Make sure your business can meet the requirements of the contract
- Make sure that your submission is complete and accurate
Remembering these steps will give you a leg up on the competition and improve your chances of successfully bidding for a contract from the GSA.
The Schedules Program is just one-way private business or agencies can make more money contracting with the GSA. Other opportunities include Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) awards, and Global Supply Program awards that the GSA uses to effectively manage procurement for its operations and its government customers. Finding the best contract opportunity for your unique product or service can determine just how successful you are in expanding and growing your business.