compliance

Is a GSA Schedule Right for Your Company?

GSA Schedule Proposals


Arrowhead Solutions, LLC is the state of Colorado PTAC’s Subject Matter Expert for GSA.

What is a Schedule? – The General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule (also referred to as Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) and Federal Supply Schedules) establish long-term government contracts with commercial firms. GSA Schedules provide fast, flexible, cost-effective procurement solutions that allow customers to meet acquisition challenges, while achieving their missions. There are forty different Schedules that cover everything from environmental services, furniture, restaurant equipment and finance to business solutions.

Acting almost like a catalog of supplies and services for the US Government to procure from, GSA Schedules can be an easy way for customers to access your supplies/services quickly and easily, to an extent. It seems to be a common belief that a GSA Schedule is a necessity and if your company doesn’t have one, you’ll be left behind. Let’s look at some of the pros, cons and considerations you should make before jumping into GSA.

Pros

– Access to all government customers, not just one particular agency – the Schedule Program is government-wide
– Ability to receive orders quickly
– Pre-negotiated terms, conditions, and pricing (thus allowing for your quick orders)
– Diversification of your company’s contract tools – having more ways for your government customer to reach you is good
– Five year award, with options up to another fifteen years

Cons
– Requirement to sell twenty five thousand dollars under the Schedule within the first twenty four months and twenty five thousand dollars every year after
– Work involved with proposal preparation – piles of documents and time needed to navigate the submission rules/process
– Length of time to award – although advertised and quick (for eOffers), GSA is backlogged by eight months right now
– Lower profit margins – your company is required to offer to the government a discount on top of your lowest prices
– Administration – your company is required to pay back the Industrial Funding Fee and report sales


Your particular company’s industry, size, time in business and client base should be taken into consideration before making the leap.

Considerations
– Is your industry dominated by competitors with schedules? Do they receive most of their revenue from GSA Schedules?
– Is your product or service in high demand and do you have current government clients complaining they can’t reach you easily?
– Have you been in business for over two years and do you have stellar track records and solid sales?
– Do you have the extra funding available to pay for your time, or that of outside assistance, to build your proposal?
– Are you willing to wait nearly a year to get on Schedule, or is your time better spent chasing other opportunities?


So, do the benefits of having a Schedule outweigh the costs of building a proposal, offering discounted pricing and administering the schedule? If the answer is yes, we can help.

Contact Us

Meet the Team: Steve Griffin, Contracts Specialist

StephenGriffin200Arrowhead Solutions would like to introduce and welcome  a new team member, Steve Griffin. Steve, PhD, joined Arrowhead Solutions in February 2014 and brings with him over 32 years of experience in Federal Government contracting.

Mr. Griffin has worked a wide variety of contracts types involving acquisition of supplies, services, research, weapons development and testing, and managed healthcare.  In his career, Steve has worked for, worked as a contractor employee providing support to, or worked for firms contracting with the Federal Government.

Steve started his career in contracting in 1981 as a contracts intern with the U. S. Air Force at Luke Air Force.  In 1983 the Air Force moved him to Nellis AFB, and from there he moved to the China Lake facility of the Naval Air Warfare Center in 1985, where he worked until 1992.  In 1992, Steve moved to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, as a subcontract administrator.  From 1994 until 1996 he worked for a small disadvantaged business which held a number of contracts with the FAA for asbestos inspection and monitoring as the manager of contracts at its Denver area office.  From 1996 until 1998 Steve worked for an environmental engineering firm that held contracts with the EPA, Corps of Engineers, the U. S. Forest Service, and other Federal agencies.  In 1998 Steve moved on to a contract administrator position with a firm supporting the contracting operations of the DoD TRICARE program, and in 1999 he returned to the Government with TRICARE as a contract administrator working a number of contracts to acquire healthcare services for active duty military, their family members, and military retirees.  In 2000 Steve was appointed a contracting officer at TRICARE, and was responsible for the administration of five different regional healthcare services contracts over his time as a contracting officer at TRICARE.  In 2006 Steve left TRICARE and contracting to pursue a PhD.  During his time completing his degree program, Steve provided contracting advice and assistance to a firm that held healthcare administration contract with the DoD and the VA.  From February 2013 through January 2014 Steve worked as a contract specialist as an employee of the firm providing support to the GSA, Region 8 FAS office in Lakewood, Colorado working a number of service contracts and task orders.  With the end of his work at GSA, Steve joined Arrowhead Solutions.

Steve holds a BS in Natural Resource Management degree, a Master of Applied Communication degree, and a PhD in Communication Studies degree.   He received a DAWIA Level III certification while with TRICARE, and earned a graduate certificate in ADR from the University of Denver while completing his master’s degree.

How can Stephen and Arrowhead assist your business?

Press Release: Arrowhead Solutions, LLC Celebrates Five Years of Continued Growth

Boulder, CO (March 3, 2014) – Stephanie Mueller Amend, Founder of the boutique consulting firm, Arrowhead Solutions, LLC, announces the company’s five-year anniversary. With specialties in supporting small businesses with the processes and cycles relating to government proposals, GSA Schedules, contracts, accounting, compliance and marketing to the government, .  Arrowhead continues to experience significant revenue growth year over year. Focusing on quality and effectiveness differentiates Arrowhead as a top-rated, government contractor consulting firm. Positive reviews of Arrowhead from current clients are well documented, and continue to lead to the company’s growth supporting clients from coast to coast. Diversification into commercial support for clients and placing emphasis on strengthening client marketing efforts has allowed Arrowhead continued success; even as a recession, funding cuts, government shutdowns, and sequestration nearly paralyzed the industry of government contracting.

Marching with the rhythms of the government has been one key to Arrowhead’s continued success. Slow periods in government spending translate to “focus time” for Arrowhead clients’, as well all Arrowhead’s own, business development; hence the birth of the ArrowBD service and addition of the government marketing division of the business in 2013. Arrowhead’s next major advance, coming in 2014, will continue to propel Arrowhead and their clients forward for years to come.

About Arrowhead Solutions:

Arrowhead Solutions, LLC has been serving Boulder, Colorado area, the Denver Metro area, and clients across the nation since 2009. Stephanie Mueller Amend, founded Arrowhead after seeing a need for assistance in the small-business government contracting arena. Five years later, Arrowhead has fostered the ability to assist in every area of government contracting and grown to support a diverse roster of clients nationwide. For additional information about Arrowhead Solutions, LLC call 303-515-0527, email Lindsy Bentz, l.bentz@arrowheadsolutionsllc.com, or visit the website at: www.arrowheadsolutionsllc.com.

The Cost of Compliance

Have you ever heard of a potential customer being “wowed” by a company’s policies and procedures ?

NO of course not!

Customers are impressed by slick technology, impressive office space and well spoken business development directors.

Few small businesses ever want to spend their precious working capital on something as uniquely unglamorous as accounting and contracting policies and procedures.
So why bother investing the time and resources in developing them?
Because if your customer is the federal government, you not only have to “wow” them with your products and services but also with your adherence to the compliance requirements mandated in the FAR and other oversight regulations.
A message that we drive home with our clients and potential clients, is that the cost of compliance is significantly cheaper if compliance is addressed early in the company’s life cycle.
It is far (no pun intended of course) less expensive to develop and implement compliant policies and procedures while the company is young and has not become entrenched in business procedures that are not compliant and that have to be re-tooled completely.
This harkens back to the cost of quality adage that you can a spend a dollar today doing things right or a hundred dollars down the road to rework was what implemented poorly the first time.
Administrative “details” are the last thing that entrepreneurs want to focus on when building their products and delivering their services. This goes for everything from setting up well thought out accounting systems to implementing timekeeping systems or subcontracting policies.
Certainly the compliance requirements become increasingly more stringent the larger your contracts in value or diverse in contract vehicle, but assuming the goal of every young company is to grow, then the complexity and requirements will naturally follow.
If you understand the basics of compliance and have an idea of what the progression of requirements will be then you can manage the cost of implementation over time –
Spend the dollar today to prevent the necessity of spending the hundred when you realize after a visit from DCAA that you are out of compliance and that it will be a major fire drill to get your house in order or risk losing your contracts.

What really is “Compliance” after all?

So often, we read or hear about “compliance” as it relates to government contracting.  Web searches for “FAR Compliance”, “FAR 15 Compliance”, “DCAA Compliance”, and “Government Contract Compliance” may bring you to completely different results on the web, when each of these requests may be for the same exact need.

What are we really asking for in our search when wondering about being a compliant government contractor?

Let’s take a look at a handful of areas that require attention in a government contractor’s organization.  We have kept this list limited to the topics most troublesome for the majority of government contractors. We know there are more that can be added to this list, but for this example we’ve identified seven areas:

1) Finance/Accounting (Travel and CAS may be grouped here)

2) Timekeeping (this can be grouped with Accounting, but we like assessing it separately)

3) Contract Management

4) Subcontract/Purchasing Management

5) Standards of Business Ethics

6) Property Management

7) Human Resources related topics

If tested or evaluated on any of these seven areas above, would the government give your company a passing grade?The government assumes, and will check, to make sure that your organization is compliant in following the regulations.

Simply put, “Compliant” to the government means that: Your organization has implemented policies, procedures and processes that follow (comply) with government regulations and contract specifications.  Additionally, your organization must be practicing these policies, procedures and processes.  Your company may be compliant in some areas and not in others.  100% compliance in all areas is ultimately the goal to reduce risk and increase opportunity with the government customer.

One of the most talked about areas that gets the most press is of course in the Finance/Accounting area (the dreaded DCAA audits).  Accounting Systems Audits, Incurred Cost Audits, Financial Capability Audits, etc. are all examples of reviews the government will order to ensure compliance by a government contractor.

One area that is often overlooked or ignored, but is critical for attaining compliance, is in the area of Subcontracting/Purchasing.  These areas can be split in two, but in the end, the same function is being conducted; a government contractor is using taxpayer money to buy goods and/or services.  Therefore, is your organization procuring goods and services under your government contracts in a compliant manner (even if you are a sub at any tier)?

How do you know if you are compliant?  Read, understand and follow the FAR, read all its supplements, become familiar with often cited Acts and common special clauses.  Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to compliance.  There is no claiming lack of understanding or knowledge as a reason for not being a compliant government contractor.

One method many companies use is to take a stab at building a compliant organization, then looking for an outside review or third party mock audit of critical areas.  This can be extremely helpful in identifying gaps not only between your company’s policy, procedure and processes and the government requirements, but also in identifying gaps between your company’s day to day activities and what your policies actually say.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask the government liaisons for any advice or guidance they may be able to provide.  Some agencies, officers, and liaisons may be more forthcoming with assistance than others. Forming relationships and asking for help from those who are looking to make sure you are compliant can never hurt.