Since 2012, getting a GSA schedule is far more difficult than ever, and the process of obtaining a GSA contract is now quite complex and not as simple as completing a few GSA application forms and attaching some documents. The process actually entails:
- a comprehensive review of GSA Solicitation documents,
- determining a sound and comprehensive GSA pricing strategy,
- properly disclosing sales practices as required by law,
- preparing and submitting a GSA proposal (or GSA offer), and
- then going through GSA's due diligence and negotiation process.
Notice no mention about GSA Applications. Why? They don't exist. Obtaining a GSA contract is more akin to developing a comprehensive federal proposal process than, say, a bank or mortgage application.
The myth about GSA Applications
A firm does NOT apply for a GSA contract. There is no such thing as a GSA Schedule Application. This is a myth that makes some think that all they need to do is fill out some application form and GSA will consider giving you a contract.
The fact is, it getting a GSA contract requires that you respond to a comprehensive GSA solicitation that is appropriate to your business. The GSA contract officers use this information to make what they call "a responsibility determination." Only after GSA decides you are a responsible vendor to they move on to negotiating most favored customer pricing.
Develop and Submit a Comprehensive, Quality GSA Proposal
A proper GSA proposal, or GSA Offer, is a series of documents that typically includes a detailed technical proposal in which you describe your products and services, demonstrate that they fit within the scope of the schedule, provide certain operational information and proof of quality past performance and satisfied clients. Most challenging, however, is the price proposal, which requires careful and thorough disclosures of prior discounting practices.
Price Proposal and Discounting Disclosures
Negotiating the GSA price can be quite complex, especially if you have either complex discounting practices or very loose pricing practices. Without proper disclosures, your will either end up with an unprofitable contract, or risk severe penalties under GSA's price reduction clause. Each of our GSA consultants has successfully completed over one hundred GSA negotiations.
Work with an Experienced, Ethical GSA Consultant
You need to have an experienced, trusted, GSA consultant on your side, not a "GSA processor." GSA consultants should not merely focus on getting you through the process. Rather, you need to work with senior, experienced GSA consultants because the upside of a contract is great but the risk of negotiating a flawed contract is especially dangerous.
Are you ready for a GSA Schedule?
While some may think this is simply a matter of semantics, it is not. Properly preparing a winning GSA proposal requires a thorough knowledge of:
- GSA Schedule solicitation documents - which run about 200 pages or more.
- Knowledge of government contract regulations (also known as Federal Acquisition Regulations or FAR)
- Experience in properly disclosing commercial sales practices and discounting practices to avoid fines, claims and disbarment later.
- Extensive experience in GSA negotiations so that you don't end up giving away the store.
- Vast experience in federal marketing so that pricing and positioning is properly established in your contract.
The reason for needing this level of expertise is that a GSA contract is a major government contract, which will last five years, and to 20 years with options. GSA Schedules may be the most strategically important federal contract a firm ever obtains. This is not like applying for a mortgage. You need a professional team on your side and not "GSA application processors."