What is a GSA Contract or MSA GSA Contract?
A GSA Schedule is an unfunded contract that gives the government the ability to purchase goods or services from a vendor at a pre-specified price. Unfunded means there is not a guarantee the vendor will ever obtain a sale from the contact. However, a GSA Schedule Contract complies with Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR), allowing a government buyer to purchase goods from the schedule system forgoing other more arduous government purchasing processes.
A GSA Schedule Contract provides the federal procurement officer with a less complex buying process. This drives federal buyers to the MAS GSA Schedule System, creating a uique selling opportunity for GSA Schedule Holders. This makes the GSA Schedule system a favorite for most federal buyers.
How to Get a GSA Schedule
The first question many people ask when pursuing a GSA Schedule contract is “do I need to use a consultant?” The answer to this question comes in various forms but the reality is “it depends.” If the individual completing the application has competency in completing government proposals, is willing to put in some work in to understand what at times can be an ambiguous process, and follow these steps, it is possible to complete a GSA contract on your own.
Eligibility for a MAS program GSA schedule
Outline for How to Get a GSA Schedule:
The firm should also take steps to target federal contracting officers and inform them of their new position as a MAS GSA Schedule Holder. Federal sales build upon each other making the next sale that much easier. Hopefully obtaining a GSA Schedule will give your firm the ability to make headway into the lucrative federal marketplace.
Get a GSA Schedule
Many Small Business strive to gain an SBA Certification or VA Verification but miss out on the bigger opportunity of combining that certification with a GSA Schedule. Certification holders that are eligible should “get a GSA Schedule” and the following case will demonstrate why it is in the best interest of the firm.
Many industries can be found on the GSA Schedule System. IT and Professional Services are the largest two service industry categories. Although facilities maintenance, logistics, travel, security, and janitorial also have a strong presence.
In addition to services, millions of products are listed on the MAS Schedule system. This varies from building materials, office equipment/furniture, personal protective equipment, hardware, computers, boats, groceries, and just about any other item you can imagine.
Limitations: Architecture firms are not found on GSA Schedules by federal act, and General Contractors for buildings are also not found on the schedule system.
A firm wanting a contract submits a proposal to the General Services Administration (GSA) using a specific format. This is generally considered an arduous process is taking several months to complete. The GSA will assess if the firm has the ability to successfully complete a federal contract. To do this, they will assess:
Once the GSA is ready to approve the application they will enter a final price negotiation with the firm whereby the GSA will work to ensure that pricing in the contract is fair and reasonable.
Once the applicant is approved, their price catalog is uploaded onto GSA elibrary and the government e-commerce site GSA Advantage. GSA elibrary gives a federal contracting officer the ability to see all of the offerings of an individual company. GSA Advantage is set up as an e-commerce platform where government buyers can compare products, click and buy. The GSA Contract holder also gains access to GSA ebuy where special bidding opportunities are placed, whereby only GSA Contract holders are permitted to bid.
Federal buyers are generally required to review/document at least three vendors offering before making a best-value decision. GSA elibrary, GSA Advantage. GSA ebuy provides an easy way for a federal buyer to comply with this FAR requirement during their purchasing process.
A GSA Schedule Contract is for a five-year period and can be renewed for up to 20 years. Modification to the contract can occur throughout the life of the GSA Contract.
There are 19,000-20,000 businesses holding GSA Schedule Contracts with over 7 million products/services listed on the GSA Schedule System. Approximately ¾ of all companies on the schedule system are small.
The GSA Schedule System accounts for approximately 15% of federal discretionary spending. Small businesses average around $1 million per year in federal sales. Large business concerns can have over $100 million per year in contract sales.
Many small businesses utilize their GSA Schedule to obtain their first contract within an agency. Once they have proven themselves it make winning future contracts less challenging.
Benefits of Obtaining a GSA MAS Schedule Contract
A GSA Schedule is a contracting vehicle or a bridge that helps sellers connect with federal buyers in an easy yet regulation compliant manner. Therefore the true benefit of obtaining a GSA MAS Schedule is that it can increase a firms sales by either helping a firm break into the federal contracting market or by providing a firm with a new method in which to sell.
Firms with GSA Schedules on average are more successful at selling to the federal government than their peers. A small business with a GSA schedule has average sales of over $1 million dollars per year from the Schedule alone.
Qualifying for a GSA MAS Contract
There are several criteria that a firm must be able to meet in order to have their proposal accepted by the GSA.
Criteria 1 – Product or Service must fit on an existing Schedule
Your products or services must fit on an existing GSA Schedule. The reason for this is that the federal government uses the schedule system for routine and repetitive purchases. Maintaining a schedule costs the federal government over a thousand dollars per year in costs and therefore they don’t want items on the GSA MAS System that will never be purchased by federal buyers. The good news is that there are over 8 million products and thousands of services listed on GSA Schedules so in all likelihood your item will have a place. However certain novel products or services do not find a place on schedule system and certain large categories such as architecture and general contracting are not found on the schedule system due to federal acquisition regulations.
Criteria 2 – The firm must be financially stable.
The purpose of the GSA Schedule system is to provide a high quality and reliable system for government employees to purchase form. As a result the GSA does not want unreliable vendors on the schedule system to diminish its’ value. Therefore your firm must be able to prove that it has financial stability to the GSA. The GSA will place higher scrutiny on firms that have any of the following issues.
Causes of Higher Scrutiny by GSA
Criteria 3 – Goods must be for sale in the commercial market place
The GSA has this requirement for several reasons. One is that the GSA will review the firms past invoices to insure you are selling to the GSA at the price you are offering the same product or service in the commercial marketplace. This would not be possible for a new product or service. The GSA generally likes to see that the firm has at least four customers and sold at least $25,000 in the past 2 years in order to be eligible. For IT firms this duration of time is cut to 1 year and past work performance in some cases can be used.
Criteria 4 – Your Products Pricing Must be Consistent
A firm must be able to provide the government with consistent year round pricing. This can be difficult for suppliers of good such as coffee where the price of the commodity varies dramatically from week-to-week or month-to-month.
Criteria 5 – Your firm must be of High Moral Character
The company and its principle owners/managers must not have been disbarred from doing business with the Federal government within the last three years. Additionally, your company and its principles must not have a civil or criminal conviction as a result of performance on a federal, state, or local contract.
Small Business GSA Sales Numbers
GSA Schedules are often used by small businesses to boost their federal sales. Small businesses that go through this process are rewarded with an average of $1MM in annual sales through their GSA Contract.
Small businesses that have a special designation generally achieve even better results than the small business average. The numbers show that getting a GSA Schedule and combing it with an SBA designation increases the effectiveness of a GSA Schedule. (See table below)
|Business Type/Size||Amount of GSA Revenue||# of GSA Schedule Holders||Average GSA Revenue 2020|
If we breaking these groups into Industries we can see where the GSA + Certification/Verification provides the most benefits to firms.
8(a) Certification Highlights
|Industry||8(a) Certification Sales||# Vendors||Average Sales|
|Clothing, Textiles & Subsistence S&E||7,121,576||11||647,416|
|Electronic & Communication Equipment||19,340||2||9,670|
|Equipment Related Services||9,955||1||9,955|
|Facilities & Construction||100,158,108||115||870,940|
|Industrial Products & Services||93,841,976||64||1,466,281|
|Security and Protection||108,750,479||29||3,750,017|
|Transportation and Logistics Services||23,607,685||43||549,016|
|Travel & Lodging||87,983||2||43,992|
|Industry||HUBZone Sales||# Vendors||Average Sales|
|Clothing, Textiles & Subsistence S&E||18,068,913||16||1,129,307|
|Electronic & Communication Equipment||97,696||1||97,696|
|Equipment Related Services||7,501,299||4||1,875,325|
|Facilities & Construction||24,796,851||63||393,601|
|Industrial Products & Services||106,426,877||59||1,803,845|
|Security and Protection||9,237,605||13||710,585|
|Transportation and Logistics Services||42,231,301||20||2,111,565|
|Travel & Lodging||668,382||5||133,676|
SDVOSB Verification Highlights
|Industry||SDVOSB Sales||# Vendors||Average Sales|
|Clothing, Textiles & Subsistence S&E||27,746,813||25||1,109,873|
|Electronic & Communication Equipment||10,996,966||7||1,570,995|
|Equipment Related Services||6,820,581||2||3,410,291|
|Facilities & Construction||55,501,198||89||623,609|
|Industrial Products & Services||185,691,604||100||1,856,916|
|Security and Protection||51,905,312||31||1,674,365|
|Transportation and Logistics Services||80,163,343||63||1,272,434|
|Travel & Lodging||10,859,168||11||987,197|
|Industry||WOSB Sales||# Vendors||Average Sales|
|Clothing, Textiles & Subsistence S&E||38,461,326||91||422,652|
|Electronic & Communication Equipment||893,412||13||68|
|Equipment Related Services||1,218,837||12||101,570|
|Facilities & Construction||99,209,735||265||374,376|
|Industrial Products & Services||253,245,892||221||1,145,909|
|Security and Protection||74,527,967||49||1,520,979|
|Transportation and Logistics Services||74,664,599||107||697,800|
|Travel & Lodging||5,338,898||22||242,677|
There appears to be a strong synergistic value in combining a GSA Schedule with a Certification/Verification. Therefore firms that have a certification/verification should combine them to increase their federal sales.
GSA Schedule – FAQ
A GSA Schedule Contract is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract that falls under the GSA’s Multiple Award System (MAS). The purpose of GSA Schedule Contract is to eliminate paperwork and bureaucracy therapy assisting federal employees in purchasing products and services at pre-negotiated prices and terms.
Approximately 14,400 firms have a GSA Schedule Contract. There are approximately 12,000 small businesses and 2,400 large businesses with GSA Schedule Contracts.
Approximately 11 million different goods and services.
Generally an GSA Schedule remains in place for a five year period. It can be renewed three times for twenty years total in contract life.
There are several factors that determine the amount of time it takes to obtain a GSA Schedule Contract. Once you have submitted all of your document for approval to the GSA. Then the GSA schedule goes through a multi-step approval process. Review times range from three to five months. There is an expedited process if the GSA Schedule is initiated through a federal agency request is approximately four weeks.
Yes – Firms with an 8(a) Certification, HUBZone, WOSB, EDWOSB, SDVOSB, or Veteran Owned certification have this listed on their GSA Advantage and GSA elibrary listings.
Generally a firm applying for a GSA Schedule must have had at least 25,000 in sales over the prior two years in the industry in which they are seeking the GSA Contract.
There is no set industry that is best for doing well within the GSA Schedule System. The largest two industries are IT, with approximately 35% of 8(a) firms; in Information Technology with approximately 30% of 8(a) firms. Both of these industries tend to do well within the federal 8(a) space, however many niche industries out-preform these more mainstream industries.
A GSA Schedule can greatly aid an 8(a) firm in the marketing of its goods and services. This is because GSA Schedules are the predominant method of purchasing most federal procurement officers go, in order to do market research. Past studies have shown that 8(a) certified firms do 3-times the amount of business of that a non-8(a) firm showing the advantage of the combination.
eBuy is an online procurement tool only for GSA Schedule holders that is used by procurement officers to facilitate the request for quotes on proposals for products and services by federal buyers. The average eBuy procurement is sent to seven GSA Schedule holders of which between three and four responds.
State and local governments have the use of GSA Schedules through two platforms: The Cooperative Purchasing and Disaster Recovery Purchasing Programs. State and local government use of GSA Schedules has been a high growth area for the GSA in recent years.
83% of firms with GSA Schedules are small business and 37% of GSA revenue is with small business.
A GSA CTA (Contractor Teaming Arrangement) is an agreement combining the goods and services of two or more GSA Schedule Holders into one offering. The agreement sets the outline of the roles of each of the firms in the agreement.