Prospective Schedule Contractors – Are Schedules a Good Fit for Me?
The GSA Multiple Award Schedule Program, also referred to as the “Schedule,”, is the premier contract vehicle for the federal government. The Schedule Program is a long term government-wide contract between commercial suppliers and the federal government.
Suppliers give federal, and in some cases state and local buyers (including tribal governments and some educational institutions), access to millions of commercial products and services at negotiated ceiling prices. Schedule purchases represent approximately 21 percent of overall federal procurement spending–approximately $42 billion per year.
Holding a Schedule contract can open doors for businesses, but it requires effort and commitment on your part to succeed.
Are you thinking about pursuing a GSA Schedule contract?
Here is what you need to know.
Conduct market research and develop leads
- Research the federal procurement marketplace to identify what federal agencies and departments have historically purchased your product and/or service. This helps you develop a targeted approach. Agencies are required to report in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), all contract actions with estimated value in excess of the micropurchase threshold. FPDS is a valuable tool for you to research the federal procurement marketplace.
- Use FPDS to identify
- who is buying your product or service in the federal market,
- how much they are buying,
- who your key competitors are, and
- What contracts are set to expire that can become potential opportunities
- Use FPDS to identify
- Use your four-digit Product Service Code (PSC) to filter the tool for potential opportunities. PSCs describe products and services in a more granular fashion (i.e. event management services, cloud storage and services, etc.). The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code classifies the business segment, while your PSC outlines the specific products and services that federal agencies have purchased.
- Your PSC will help you filter FPDS data more directly.
- Your PSC is submitted when you register in the System for Award Management (SAM), so keep your PSC code handy.
- Prepare a marketing plan to do business with the federal government. Develop a marketing and sales strategy for how you will find opportunities and win federal business. Use the information that you find in your market research through FPDS to outline the federal agencies that you plan to target.
- Understand your competition. Use the Schedule Sales Query database, in conjunction with GSA eLibrary to understand your competition already on Schedule.
Prerequisites for getting a Schedule contract
- You must be able to show you are responsible and responsive
- To be eligible for a Schedule contract, you must have been in business for two years and provide two years of financial statements, unless you are eligible for the Springboard Program, applicable to specific Information Technology offerings. The Springboard site outlines the parameters.
You must also have measurable past performance. Experience related to three or more previous federal contracts, with ratings available in Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARs) is acceptable.
If you do not have previous federal experience, you may use federal and non-federal references from six or more previous customers, to obtain a past performance and evaluation Open Ratings report through Dun and Bradstreet.
The Open Ratings Report will rate you on the following:
- Business Relations
- Order Accuracy
- Personnel’s Professionalism
- Customer Support and Responsiveness
- How Much Time Does it Take?
- We review each Schedule application in the order we receive it. As a result, the application and award process may take up to 12 months.
- Be prepared, once you receive a Schedule, to compete against other Schedule contractors for orders.
Know what to expect when you are awarded a Schedule contract
- Compliance and Support – You must maintain compliance with all terms and conditions of your Schedule contract throughout the contract’s life. A GSA representative (known as an Industrial Operations Analyst “IOA”), assigned to you after award, will work with you during the contract term to help you remain compliant.
- Minimum Sales – You must generate $25,000 in sales within the first two years of your Schedule contract and then each individual year thereafter. Your marketing efforts generate your sales, as well as your proactive pursuit of opportunities in the federal market, using tools like FedBizOpps and eBuy.
- Sales Reporting – You are required to track and report your GSA Schedule sales, and remit the Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) for all sales made against your Schedule contract. The reporting and IFF remittance frequency will depend on how your Schedule contract is awarded.
- Pricing – You are required to share your full Schedule price list on GSA Advantage within 30 days of award and any applicable modification to your contract. Pricing on GSA Advantage is available for the public to view.
Other paths to selling to the government
Schedules can be a powerful tool for suppliers; however, you do not need a Schedule contract to do business with the government. To gain federal experience, you can pursue subcontracting opportunities and open market opportunities through FedBizOpps. If your company is new or does not have experience working with the federal government, consider gaining that experience first.