Getting on the GSA Schedule
Steps to Get a GSA Schedule Contract
Obtaining a GSA Schedule Contract can be referred to in multiple ways, including getting on the GSA list, getting a GSA number, or getting GSA approved. The terminology can sometimes lead to the misconception that it involves a quick registration or application form. Below is a high-level overview of the steps involved in obtaining a GSA Schedule Contract:
The first step to getting on the GSA Schedule is determining if your company/organization is eligible to receive a GSA Schedule Contract Award. Before you start the GSA Schedule proposal process, make sure your company has the following:
- Products/Services Fit Within the GSA Schedules Program
- Financial Stability
- At Least 2 Years in Business (Exception for GSA IT Schedule)
- Past Performance
- Products Compliant with the Trade Agreements Act (TAA). If you are offering products, the end product must be manufactured or substantially transformed within the U.S. or a TAA designated country. Click here for a list of designated countries.
Assess Market & Evaluate Resources
After determining eligibility, take the time to conduct market research and assess your company’s potential for success as a GSA Schedule Contract holder. Utilize online resources such as GSA eLibrary, GSA Schedule Sales Query (SSQ), and USASpending.gov to review existing contractors, contract sales, and agency spending.
A GSA Schedule Contract can be a valuable tool when selling to the federal government. However, if your company does not have previous government experience, a GSA Schedule may not be the best first step. Consider the following questions when you conduct your assessment:
- Do your competitors currently hold a GSA Schedule Contract or sell to government?
- Are government buyers using the GSA Schedule Contract to purchase what you offer?
- Does your sales team have experience selling to the federal government?
- Does your company currently do business with the U.S. government?
- Are your customers requesting that you obtain a GSA Schedule Contract?
Obtain Required Registrations
The first two items are required to do business with the federal government whether or not you plan on obtaining a GSA Schedule Contract. A digital certificate is required to submit your proposal to GSA. If you are awarded a GSA Schedule Contract, you will need to keep your digital certificate up-to-date throughout the life of your contract.
- Obtain a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) D-U-N-S Number
- Register on the System for Award Management (SAM)
- Obtain a Digital Certificate
Identify the Appropriate GSA Schedule
It is important to select the appropriate GSA Schedule based upon the products and services allowed under each GSA Schedule. If the correct Schedule is not identified before beginning the proposal process, you risk wasting months preparing a proposal that will be rejected do to scope.
Depending upon what you offer, the appropriate GSA Schedule can be immediately obvious or require research. There is some overlap across the GSA Schedules, so you may find that your product or service potentially falls under multiple Schedules. Review the list of available GSA Schedules on GSA eLibrary and click on the GSA Schedule Number to review subcategories or Special Item Numbers (SINs) under each GSA Schedule. You can also search for your product or service on eLibrary to see which GSA Schedule(s) it falls under.
Download the Corresponding Solicitation
There is a 100-300 page Request for Proposal (RFP) or Solicitation for each GSA Schedule. Once you have identified the appropriate GSA Schedule, download the corresponding Solicitation. Links to each GSA Schedule Solicitation can be accessed from GSA eLibrary:
- Go to GSA eLibrary
- Click on the appropriate GSA Schedule number
- Click on the box that says, “Vendors Click here to view the current solicitation on FedBizOpps”
- Once on FedBizOpps, read the synopsis and download all documents on the right side under “Solicitation 1”
Past Performance Evaluation Report
A Dun & Bradstreet Open Ratings Past Performance Evaluation report must be included with your GSA Schedule Proposal. The process can take 35 days, so we recommend ordering the report — which costs $185 — when you begin preparing your GSA Schedule proposal. Keep in mind though; the report is only valid for 12 months. Meaning, if your GSA Schedule proposal gets put to the side for too long, you will have to pay to have the report completed again. For more information and to order the report, click here.
Gather Required Documentation
The exact information required will vary from Schedule to Schedule. However, in general, each solicitation will require corporate and financial information, past performance, commercial sales practices, and a commercial price list.
Write Your Proposal
Each proposal will contain an Administrative, Technical, and Pricing section, but specific requirements will be dependent on the GSA Schedule. Pay particular attention to the pricing section, as this will serve as a foundation for your GSA Schedule Contract pricing moving forward.
As with any proposal response, be sure to:
- Read all documents under the appropriate Solicitation
- Pay close attention to Solicitation instructions, administrative details, and evaluation criteria
- Address all elements of the Solicitation
- Provide exactly what is requested – no more, no less
TIP: Be cognizant of a possible Solicitation Refresh. Many companies who decide to take the GSA acquisition project in-house can take anywhere from months to over a year to complete the proposal. In this time GSA can issue a Solicitation Refresh which is an amendment that can potentially change the entire scope of the Solicitation. Once a Refresh is issued, contractors are typically given a set amount of time to submit proposals under the old Solicitation. After this time, proposals submitted under the outdated guidelines will be rejected.
Submit Your Proposal
Your GSA Schedule Contract proposal must be submitted electronically through GSA’s eOffer system, which requires a digital certificate. Once submitted, your proposal will be placed in a queue and assigned to a GSA Contracting Officer.
GSA Review & Clarifications
The GSA proposal review time can vary significantly depending upon the GSA Schedule and the volume of current offers. The review period for the GSA IT Schedule is approximately 3 months, while the GSA Security Schedule can be 1-2 years. During the review, your GSA Contracting Officer will review your proposal to determine if it is complete and technically acceptable. Your Contracting Officer will also request clarification of information provided and additional information as needed.
GSA Contract Negotiation
The purpose of the GSA Schedules Program is to leverage the government’s buying power to negotiate discounted pricing. Once your Contracting Officer has completed a satisfactory review of your proposal, a conference call will be scheduled to negotiate pricing. It is important to plan a negotiation strategy in advance to ensure an agreed upon discount that is favorable to both potential government buyers and your company.
Final Proposal Revision
After negotiations are complete, GSA will request a Final Proposal Revision (FPR), which is a document that summarizes your finalized proposal and pricing, as negotiated with GSA.
GSA Contract Award!
After submitting a signed FPR, GSA will award your company a GSA Schedule Contract Number, which can be used to sell to any U.S. federal agency. Your GSA Schedule Contract will be valid for a 5-year period with three 5-year extension options.
Post-Award GSA Contract Management
Your GSA Schedule Contract is meant to mirror your commercial offerings and can be updated when changes are made to your pricing and offerings.
Need Help Getting on the GSA Schedule?
Federal Schedules, Inc. has been helping companies get their GSA/VA Schedule Contracts since 1986. We can help you through each step of the process – from identifying the appropriate GSA Schedule and developing pricing strategies, to preparing your proposal and fielding negotiations with GSA. To find out more information on our services or to request a quote, see GSA Schedule Proposal Help or Contact Us.