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Getting Started with GSA Schedules

Under the GSA Schedules program, GSA establishes long-term governmentwide contracts with commercial firms to provide access to millions of commercial supplies (products) and services at volume discount pricing. These can be ordered directly from GSA Schedule contractors or through the GSAAdvantage!® online shopping and ordering system. The MAS Value Proposition highlights the benefits ordering activities experience when using GSA Schedules. For more information, click here!

Getting Started with GSA Schedules:

The GSA Schedules program offers great opportunities for both large and small businesses. Becoming a Schedules contractor may take a significant investment of time and resources – which is why the first step for all interested businesses is to think it through.

Think It Through
You must carefully consider whether you have the resources to pursue a Schedules contract and the time to both market and compete for business once on contract. Submitting an offer involves many steps, and the process may take months to complete. However, submissions are accepted continuously, allowing you to decide when to pursue the solicitation process.

Ask yourself these important questions before preparing a solicitation response:

• Fit: Do the products and/or services we offer fit with a Schedules solicitation? The GSA Schedules Solicitations page lists Schedule contract numbers with their corresponding Special Item Numbers (SINs). Products or services with the same SIN are generically similar (but not identical) and are intended to serve the same general purpose or function.  Note that certain products and services such as construction and building supplies are not covered by Schedules.
• Price: Can we compete with current Schedules contractors? Review pricelists in GSA Advantage! to complete a price comparison for similar products and/or services.
• Time: Do we have the time and resources to dedicate towards responding to a Schedules solicitation , administrating the contract and  marketing the contract to ordering activities?

Write Up a Business Plan
Being on a GSA Schedule is no guarantee of government sales. Vendors should understand that once a contract has been awarded they are responsible for marketing both their company and their GSA contract. Also, vendors should be prepared to compete with other contractors on Schedule for request-for-quotes issued by ordering activities. Before committing to the Schedule contract process, experts recommend that firms create a business plan that includes items such as: an estimate of the expected Return on Investment, marketing plan, and determining if you have dedicated personnel for this new venture.

Learning more:
Prospective contractors (vendors) should conduct market research to determine what comparable products and/or services are provided to the government market.  
Sites such as FedBizOpps, Federal Procurement Data System, and Schedules Sales Query, allow you to determine:

• Which federal agencies have purchased my product or service?
• Where are those agencies located?
• What was the price of those sales?
• What are the buying trends and forecasted sales for my product or service?

Managing a Schedules Contract provides further information regarding market research resources.

First Steps: Find the Right Solicitation
After your company has decided to pursue a Schedules contract, you must first find the correct Schedules solicitation for your offerings. Review the information at the GSA Schedules Solicitations page. This provides a brief description of the acquisition centers and the specific GSA Schedules, including links to GSA eLibrary and to FedBizOpps.  GSA eLibary is the online source for GSA and VA Federal Supply Schedule award information, and includes descriptions of each Schedules’ Special Item Numbers (SINs).  At FedBizOpps you can search all active Federal opportunities and download the solicitation files and instructions related to a particular contract.

First Steps: Get Registered and Certified
You must complete a number of registrations and certifications before responding to a solicitation. Get these administrative steps completed now, so you will be prepared to complete the solicitation process later.

With the exception of the Past Performance Evaluation, the following registrations are free. A DUNS number is a prerequisite for any other registrations.

1. DUNS – The nine-digit Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS), managed by Dun & Bradstreet, is a widely accepted, unique identifier for companies around the world.

2. CCR – The Central Contractor Registration (CCR) collects, validates, stores, and disseminates data in support of agency acquisition missions.  Vendors should remember to update their registration annually.

3. ORCA – The Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) offers a consolidated certification process to be applied to all Schedules solicitations and federal contracts. You must update your information annually to make sure it is complete and accurate.

4. Past Performance Evaluation – Open Ratings, a Dun & Bradstreet company, surveys past customers in order to assess a company’s work performance. Your company must register and provide the names and email addresses of six to 20 of your customers. This service has a fee.

5. NAICS –Register with the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  This system is used by the federal government to compile key statistics about the American economy.

In addition, your company may be qualified to pursue special government programs designed to benefit socioeconomic businesses. Learn more at Small Business Goals and from GSA’s Office of Small Business Utilization. Some programs require an additional certification from the Small Business Administration.

Next Steps: Responding to a Solicitation
You’ve decided which GSA Schedule contract best suits your company and you’ve completed preliminary registrations. Now you may dedicate the required time and resources to respond to a GSA solicitation.
 

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