By Nick Economou, SBTDC-PTAC Counselor at UNC-Charlotte
You just met with a buyer at a federal agency and you convinced them that your product or service will solve the agencies problem. The buyer then asks for your GSA Contract Number. You’re puzzled by the question and ask, “What is that?” Or, you say to the buyer, “I don’t have one, but I will get one tomorrow.” To your dismay, you find out that it takes anywhere from 6 months to a year to obtain your GSA Contract Number.
The GSA Schedules Program is a program of the U.S. General Services Administration. The program awards approximately $40 billion worth of goods and services. For federal agencies and some states and local governments, the program is a fast, easy, effective contracting vehicle that provides access to millions of commercial products and services at volume discount pricing.
A key reason for the success of the program is that federal buyers do not have to post their requirements on fedbizops. Instead, they can choose from a variety of preapproved contracts of off GSA Advantage.
Here is some important information to consider that GSA provides to the public about the GSA Schedules Program:
- 80% of GSA Multiple Award Schedule contractors are small businesses who represent 36% of sales
- More than $40 Billion flows through this program every year
- GSA had over 19,000 contracts under the program; and
- Approximately 40 percent of the 19,000 GSA Schedule Contracts generate sales.
GSA has developed a vendor toolbox, which is a collection of resources that will help you decide whether getting a schedule is in your best interest. Go to this link: https://vsc.gsa.gov/
Major categories under the program include:
- Building & Industrial
- Cleaning & Chemicals
- IT Solutions
- Law Enforcement, Fire, Security
- Office Solutions
- Recreational & Apparel
- Professional Services
- Tools, Hardware, Machinery
- Vehicles and Watercraft
GSA eLibrary is the online source for the latest contract award information for the GSA Schedules Program. Go to this link: https://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/home.do
GSA eLibrary is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide up-to-date information on which suppliers have contracts and what items are available, by using various search options, such as:
- Contract Number;
- Contractor/Manufacturer Name;
- Schedule Name, Schedule Number, Category/Sub-Category Name, or Category Number/Special Item Number (SIN); or
- Technology Contract Name, Contract Number, or Category Name/Number.
Some of the requirements of the program include:
- Business has been in existence for two years and has transacted commercial sales totaling at $25,000 during the last 12 months.
- Must have at least 6 customers who can fill out a satisfactory survey report on your performance as a business.
- The business should have a website and accept credit cards
- If products are being offered, they must comply with the Trade Agreements Act (TAA). China, for example, is not a designated country under the TAA.
- The products or services must fit into the broad category descriptions identified by GSA.
- The business must have an adequate record keeping system in place to track prices offered to various classes of customers. The business must maintain the favorable pricing relationship with federal customers during the life of the contract.
How do you know if your labor rates for services are fair and reasonable?
GSA has developed a special evaluation tool that is available to the business community. The Contract Awarded Labor Category (CALC) tool, allows government contracting officers and business contract administrators to conduct research and price analysis for professional labor categories across a database of contract awarded prices for 48,000 labor categories from more than 5,000 recent GSA contracts.
CALC can assist businesses determine the competitiveness of their rates— at the highest level — for a specific labor category. For example, a search for “Senior Engineer” will return comparable labor categories and their rates, which can be further narrowed by filtering for associated criteria such as years of experience, education level, etc.
Go to the following link and begin your market research on the competitiveness of your rates: https://calc.gsa.gov/
Our PTAC counselors can help you understand the program and its requirements and help you get started in pursuing this opportunity. They will review your product or service offering and help you determine if there is a place on this program for them.
For your information, there is a two hour free class room seminar on the program in Charlotte on February 23rd. Please go to this link to register for the class: http://www.sbtdc.org/business-events/gsa-schedules-an-overview/