GSA

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

Sharpen Your Pencils – Q4 Proposal Prep is Here!

As Q4 approaches, government contractors should be readying themselves for the mad dash.

Over a third of government contracts are awarded during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. Government agencies are emptying their budgets and providing contractors a window of opportunity to seriously expand their client base.

Where do I start? Let the courtship begin!

Winning a government contract is very much a courtship. Government customers must know you, like you and have confidence in you. The courtship will take time and energy. Marketing and networking over the next few months are going to be crucial factors in the amount of new business you bring on board. Remember, these government customers are being wooed by every prince and every pauper. You must stand out in all the right ways. Be ready to discuss “what you are going to do for them”, not “what you have done in the past”. Your past merits will certainly come into play, but focus on your future together, as government contractor and government contractee.

In sickness and health, till contract expiration do us part.

With the threat of government shut downs no longer looming and a more stable government budget in place, spending should be ramped up in this fourth quarter.

Make sure your business get a filling piece of the pie!

Not sure where to start? Need help responding to proposals about to hit the market?

…let Arrowhead Solutions, LLC guide and assist.

Meet the team! Carrie Grigg – Contracts Specialist

New Team Member Spotlight: Carrie Grigg

ProfilePicGrigg

Carrie joins Arrowhead Solutions,LLC as a Government Contracts Specialist.  She brings ten years of experience in contract management and business development in diverse fields including IT, A/E/C, bioscience and energy.  While specializing in federal and state government contracts, Carrie collaborates with partners and clients to identify strategic contract opportunities, write proposals, improve business processes, and is passionate about creating a positive customer interaction.  In addition to assisting companies win government contracts, Carrie’s interests include writing, painting and exploring the use of social media to obtain customer feedback and build relationships.  Carrie holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Virginia.

Visit Arrowhead on the web to see what our government contract specialists can do for your small business.

Five Years; time to give back to our wonderful readers! Part 1 of 4:

As Arrowhead celebrates our 5th anniversary, we realize that we could not have done it without all the support from you – our readers and clients!

To give back, we’d like to share some government contracting tips and tricks so that you can be the best government contractor possible. Each week, throughout the month of March, we’re going to be posting 5 tips to celebrate 5 years. Cheers!

This week’s post: Government Contracting: Tips and Tricks Part 1 – DCAA and Government Accounting

#1: Ask “How would we fair during a DCAA audit?” Not sure? Try a mock audit with Arrowhead’s experts on the other side of the table before there is DCAA in the picture.

#2: Make sure you know what wrap rate means. Need a refresher?

#3: Be familiar with indirect and direct rates. Read On…

#4: Read RFQs carefully – response instructions must be followed exactly as stated.

#5: Make sure to time your GSA proposal right  (if you have one). Not sure? Just call Arrowhead and we’ll help you sort it out. Don’t know if you really need a GSA? You could be right. Not all companies can benefit from being on a GSA Schedule. Arrowhead will also help you sort this out.

Don’t forget to follow Arrowhead Solutions on Twitter (@arrowheadllc) for daily tips, too!

See you next week!

The End is Near – Government Fiscal Year 2013 Recap and Look Ahead

Capitol-Bldg_4thEvery year we say the same thing, “How is it already August”?  The summer seems to fly by so quickly; before we know it kids are going back to school, vacations are wrapping up and if you are a government contractor, end of year spending is hopefully coming your way.

However, this has been a year unlike many others.  had debt ceiling showdowns, government shutdown threats, continuing resolutions, furloughs and of course – sequestration.  I have heard from many clients that the past year has been sort of fits and spurts.  Money and customers were here and there, but nothing consistent; to include this Q4.   The year seemed to have more coming from agencies in the form sources sought, requests for information, and outreach to industry.   With budgets tight, conferences were cancelled and attendance of government personnel at others was lower than usual.  In 2013 companies were cutting back and playing it safe.  Even in this last quarter, it doesn’t seem to be any different than the other three quarters of the year.   With the looming threat of a government shutdown on October 1, the air of uncertainty will undoubtedly continue into the New Year.

Other news for the end of the year?  Not good unfortunately. Bloomberg Government reports that July Defense contract awards dropped 55% from June awards.  GSA finally issued its long awaited OASIS RFP; only for the small business version to be stopped in its tracks by two protests. It was recently reported that the Department of Energy miserably missed all small business goals.  I should probably stop there so we all don’t get too depressed by 2013.  All is not so gloomy. We can still cross our fingers for a nice spending buzz from here until September 30th.  I have seen more spending coming through and more urgency to get awards done and out the door to the contractor.

So what can you do to capitalize these last six weeks of the year? Get. Out. There. Really start watching FBO, eBuy, FedConnect, etc.  There may be some unexpected (i.e. untargeted) opportunities out there that you can scoop up. If you are a VOSB, SDVOSB, 8(a), WOSB, HUBZone, etc., then really push yourselves out there to grab those dollars that need to go to socio-economic goals.  Team up, network, and give it your business development all. Because if you don’t, you will be in a slow spot come October.

Let’s look forward to a hopeful 2014.  We do have to be realistic though; the budget squeeze will continue.  We will hope for a continuing resolution rather than government shutdown.  We hope that the initial jolt of sequestration will have settled in and agencies will be able to plan a little better.  We hope that DCAA will either leave you alone or their statute of limitations will run out (smile).  We can also hope all that market research that was performed by the government in 2013 will result into some well-built solicitations for small businesses early on in 2014.

In the New Year, we will provide some insight on what we think the hot topics will be.  We know new regulations are going to get more focus, we will have a better idea as to what the next budget battle will shape up to be, and we’ll discuss the benefits of planning for 2015 –  yes, start your 2015 government business development engines now.

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GSA Schedules – Opinions Change

For so long, the common belief among my government colleagues was that GSA is inappropriate and took “work” away  from contracting offices for the procurement of services.  Primarily, those services offered on Schedules like LOGWORLD, MOBIS, PES, and IT 70 were routinely purchased outside of GSA.  I remember when I worked for the Air Force that even the mention of using a GSA Schedule to procure engineering services was met with scorn and dirty looks.  The Industrial Funding Fee and the fact that GSA wasn’t in line with Air Force contracting principles were the two arguments most commonly heard.

Over time, some agencies have been more open to using GSA Schedules than others. These same agencies have also procured certain products and services using Schedules, more than other products and services.  As time moved on, companies arose (and we have blogged on this topic before) convincing every small business in site that they NEED a GSA Schedule in order to do business with the government.  The GSA Shops provided these companies with Schedules that these companies did not need and did not sell anything on and therefore the Schedules were taken away by GSA.

However, the legend continued (and does to this day) and so the influx of proposals to GSA kept growing, and then so did the review times of proposals by GSA.  Just within this year, Arrowhead had cautioned small businesses about going after a GSA Schedule.  Our concerns were based around these long review times and our findings regarding slow agency activity using GSA for certain professional services.

How quickly times and opinions change this day and age.  What we’re hearing through the grapevine and seeing in actual practice is an uptick in the government using GSA and GSA dedicating more resources to reviewing proposals to cut the lead time.  From what we are hearing, due to the ever increasing burdens on contracting officers in their normal course of procurement, GSA is looking like a beacon of hope to get requirements met.  But doesn’t that mean the government is commoditizing and limiting competition of highly specialized services?  Yes, it does. But, it gets the job done from what we have been told.

We say “commoditizing” because GSA is intended to allow the government to use the services out there in the commercial world for their own commercial-type needs.  However, “commercial” is being stretched and pulled to pretty much cover any service the government needs. We say “limiting competition” because a CO can just pull up a handful of companies at random from the GSA eLibrary list by SIN and choose a few to send a solicitation to.  No FBO listing, no GSA eBuy competition.

Using GSA, the government CO’s can cut their processing times, avoid rate negotiations, avoid Ts and Cs negotiations, avoid agency specific internal reviews, and the list goes on.  The more red tape wrapped around the CO’s, the more we hear them trying to use GSA for some of the most non-commercial things just so they can “get things done” and make their own customers happy.

Of course agencies do have their huge own MAS’s that function in pretty much the same way (DESP III for Air Force, SeaPort-e for Navy, etc.)  But if you miss the boat during the one proposal time of year or one proposal time every 5  or 10 years, then you’re out of luck.  GSA has rolling admissions, so the door is open to obtain this tool whenever a company is ready.

It still takes a long time (average 12 months for the most popular Schedules) to get into this game, but once you do, and once you find that customer who likes you, GSA Schedules are looking more and more like the tool that may help out both parties.  Still be cautioned on if GSA is right for you, but the potential that it is right for you may be more true than ever before.