If you want a GSA schedule contract, you must first prepare and submit a proposal in response to the specific schedule soliciation that GSA publishes on FedBizOpps. A GSA proposal is prepared when you are seeking to obtain a GSA Schedule contract and it is also referred to as a GSA offer.
GSA contracting officers review the proposal to ensure that it contains all required information, and then evaluate it to make sure your firm is a "Responsible Vendor." A responsible vendor is one who meets all the GSA Qualification requirements.
GSA Proposal Qualification Requirements
GSA proposals provide information that proves to the GSA Contract Officer that:
- Your products or services fit scope of GSA Schedule you apply for.
- You have good client references based on the Open Ratings report that is generated prior to submitting your GSA application.
- Your finances indicate that your firm is financially sound.
- Your firm is operationally sound
- Your firm is ethical, without prior legal or government contract issues.
- Your firm is willing to give the government your best discounts under most circumstances. This means your GSA discount is higher than for any other customer. In some cases, GSA may accept less of a discount, say, for manufacturers who sell through distributors, but that is a challenging negotiation for most firms.
GSA Proposal Outline
For most GSA proposals, the information required can be divided into three sections:
Section 1: Contract Data
Section 2: Technical Information
Section 3: Pricing
The following sections describe what documents satisfy the GSA Schedule proposal requirements and should be included in each section of the GSA proposal. However, this varies depending on which GSA schedule you apply for.
GSA Contract Data
Usually, the GSA contract data section includes the following information:
- Contract data and company information
- Pathways to Success Certificate
- Agent Authorization Letter
- Proof of ORCA and CCR Registration
- Financial Statements – Past 1 (products firms) or 2 Years (service firms)
GSA Proposal Technical Section
Depending on whether you are offering GSA products or services, the following information is put into this section of the GSa proposal to demonstrate your firm's technical ability:
- Past Performance Evaluation (Open Ratings does a reference check)
- Product Brochure
- Production Point
- Letters of Supply
- Corporate Experience
- Relevant Project Experience (2 or 3 projects per SIN)
- Quality Control
- Organization Chart
- Subcontract plan (for large businesses)
Depending on whether you are offering GSA products or services, the following information is generally required for the pricing section of you GSA proposal:
- Price list
- Discount disclosures
- Product Brochure
- Production Point Info
- Supporting Documentation (e.g., Invoices)
- Restocking Policy
Many of the more complex issues arise in preparing the GSA pricing section. Your GSA proposal must fully disclose your firm's discounting practices, but in doing so, it is important to classify these discounts properly. If you don't then one of two bad things can happen. You could get in trouble down the road under the false claims act or be subject to the price reduction clause, or you may find yourself with a highly unprofitable contract. In either event, the ramifications for your firm are severe.
GSA Proposal Writing is Challenging
While the above outline is comprehensive, all companies are unique and what goes into each proposal is will vary by company.
- GSA proposal templates cannot be bought that can convey the essence of your company or avoid being frowned upon by GSA Contract officers, and therefore, are a waste of money.
- Low cost GSA proposal application mills also do not provide the expertise that is required to develop an audit proof yet profitable GSA proposal and contract.
A higher level full service firm with experienced experts is often needed to achieve your goals. There are many subtleties that GSA's solicitation does not adequately address and outside expertise is often the best way to go.
Tips for Successful GSA Proposals
If you decide to go it alone and prepare the GSA proposal yourself, be sure to allow adequate time by a qualified staff member to devote to the effort. A typical small business, if there is such an entity, requires about 300 hours to go through the process according to GSA. Some small businesses report much more of an effort over a 1-2 year period.
Getting expert GSA assistance from a reputable consulting firm (like TurboGSA) is often the most cost effective method.
Here is what you should avoid:
- submitting a generic GSA proposal based on a purchased GSA proposal template
- avoid GSA proposal mills that use inexperienced clerks to fill out paperwork for you. Carefully search the firm's name and aliases to determine their credibility.
How to Submit a GSA Proposal
The actual process to submit the GSA proposal is not difficult compared to writing the proposal and making all the required disclosures. You need to obtain an appropriate digital certificate from an authorized vendor and then upload the completed forms and required documents into GSA's eOffer system.