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What's the Real Story on Getting On GSA Schedule?
September 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm #109876
I was talking to a friend yesterday that runs a successful start-up out of California that has had lots of interest/use from government.
He wrote me and asked "Do you have any tips on getting on GSA schedule?" They are hiring a consultant and seem confused. He was wondering if there were any specifically good books, articles, etc
Anyone have any advice for him?
I've never gone through the process but talking to people who have - my hypothesis is that it's not that difficult. Just fill out forms and wait. But maybe there's more to it.
Oh yeah...it bugs me when government processes are perceived as so difficult that everyone hires an outsider to help them navigate them. For example, my g/f wanted to hire an immigration lawyer for her work visa even though it is university-sponsored and she is a professor of sociology and immigration and I worked at DHS and did a whole 6 months in-depth analysis of immigration application process.
September 1, 2010 at 1:06 pm #109888
I would recommend you send him to the nearest Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). If you aren't familiar with them, the centers are under cooperative agreement with DLA to provide counseling, technical assistance, and training to small businesses that want to do Federal, State, and Local government contracting and subcontracing with major primes. Your friend can find out the closest PTAC to him by going to the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers website (http://www.aptac-us.org) and clicking on the map of the state he is located in. They can provide a lot of other services to his business as he seeks to expand his opportunities in the government marketplace. Most PTAC services are free of charge, or at very minimal cost when compared to consultants.
September 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm #109886
September 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm #109884
Peter G. TuttleParticipant
Hi Steve: Without being overly simplistic, a great place to start gathering the fundamental information about what's needed to get on the GSA Schedule might be on the GSA Website . They even have a self-pace training course. Admittedly, this is just a starting place, but building the plan from the ground up may be a good idea since GSA does ask for specific supporting documentation, etc. I'd recommend considering doing this initial due-diligence first before expending scarce resources on other stuff...just a thought. Cheers and good luck. Pete
September 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm #109882
Yes, GSA's website is a good place to start. (Full disclosure: I am a contractor who works on the web content.)
GSA also offers free orientation events such as this one:
How to Obtain a GSA Schedules Contract
Sponsored by SA Office of Small Business Utilization
This free workshop is designed to encourage and support small businesses interested in obtaining a GSA Schedules contract.....
This particular one is in California, but they are offered throughout the country, and are typically sponsored by GSA's Office of Small Business Utilization (OSBU). Look for GSA's Events calendar to locate where and when. That calendar is here:
There are also monthly webinars offered such as this one:
This free monthly webinar is designed to support small businesses interested in obtaining a GSA Multiple Award Schedules contract.
OSBU has a Twitter feed as well. http://www.gsa.gov/sbu They tweet lots of really great events, and announce presolicitations.
Hope this helped.
September 1, 2010 at 8:57 pm #109880
Based on eleven years consulting for over 65 contractors, I have seen that some PTACs can be useful as is the GSA web site. However, for many companies -- especially those newer to the procurement process -- preparing a schedule can still be very difficult and time consuming. Added to this are inconsistencies between some of the major schedule solicitation terminology and the actual e-offer instructions and pricing instructions. And, if not done correctly, it can take as long as six months to hear back from a contracts specialist.
So -- I think each case is different. If there is someone in the company who understands the basics, then an outside consultant or "Schedule" company is probably not necessary. Otherwise, the right one can really make a difference and allow the company to concentrate on its core government service or product.
Disclosure: As a business growth advisor, I do NOT do schedules for a living (although I have been roped into it on occasion!).
September 1, 2010 at 9:28 pm #109878
One of the fundamental rules of successful small businesses that I believe in is to stick to your strengths, and outsource the rest. I think this is also true for getting on the GSA schedule. Of course PTAC and the GSA website are good sources, and yes you can do it yourself, but the investment in outside expertise I think is well worth it. The application is not as straight forward as one would think, and that is where the expertise comes in.
If a good consultant is hired, he or she can have templates already prepared, help you collect the needed information quickly and effectively, and also help craft the language for past performance information that is vital to successfully check the boxes, qualify for the Schedule, and complete the application and proposal submission process. I have heard complaints from "do-it-yourselfers" of the inconsistencies and lack of service from GSA, again barriers the consultant will help overcome. I also know of some great firms that have personal relationships with GSA organizations that approve the applications, so that institutional knowledge is vital to ensure your application is complete and correct the first time around.
If I can be of help or answer any questions for your friend, let me know.
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