Monday, May 04, 2009

GSA Schedules and Your Business

Honey, Was It Good For You?

A GSA Schedule contract may or may not be the right approach for your business in winning government work. The right answer can unlock millions of dollars of long-term business with US government, both federal and state…but sometimes, it's not the smart way to go.

The US General Services Administration (GSA) Schedules Program is the lingo of federal contract availability. "Are you on GSA?" or "Do you have a GSA number?" or "Are you on Schedule?" are common ways to ask: "Have you negotiated a contract, with the US General Services Administration, to sell your products and/or services, under specified terms and conditions, for a defined period of time plus options, to whomever is authorized to use that contract, in no quantities whatsoever?"

A GSA Schedule is:
  • A negotiated contract, not a registration or serial number. Some people prepare the long, detailed proposals themselves (and GSA will tell you it's simple)...but many people rely on consultants to save them time and prevent costly errors.

  • A hunting license, not a guarantee of business. After months of contracting, and even more effort of marketing, there is no promise that anyone will buy from you. Thousands of companies who get GSA Schedules win NOTHING AT ALL.

  • Only one of many ways to sell. (When a buyer says, "I can only buy off GSA Schedule", it might mean that you’ve arrived after the buyer has already chosen the Acquisition Strategy…this time.)
So why would anyone want a GSA schedule at all? Some good reasons:
  • It’s a popular way for government to buy on short notice. Federal buying surges as US fiscal year-end (30 September) approaches, and money must be spent or it disappears. It provides a year-round opportunity for teaming.

  • Some large technology contracts require prime contractors to select only team members that are already on GSA schedule.

  • Some state and local governments use the GSA Schedules for information technology, disaster response requirements, and security and law enforcement items.

  • It’s a sign that you’re serious. GSA warns that schedule contracts are not endorsements, but GSA schedule contracts do add credibility by showing buyers and partners your commitment to the government market.
So when does a GSA schedule not make good business sense? Two ways to find out:

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