The General Services Administration (GSA) uses federally awarded contracts, known as GSA schedules, to modernize and simplify the contracting process for small businesses and federal agencies. It is important for government contractors and vendors to understand what the GSA is and how being GSA approved and obtaining a GSA schedule contract can help with securing government issued contracts. This guide discusses what the GSA is and its role with the federal government, and provides an overview of GSA schedule contracts.
What Is The GSA?
The mission of GSA is to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to the government and the American people. GSA provides schedules, which allow federal agencies to purchase goods or services from GSA vendors in a streamlined process. According to GSA.gov, there are 11 regions that provide centralized procurement of products, services, and facilities for federal government offices around the world. There are also different contract types of GSA schedules, which are:
- Indefinite Delivery / Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) – IDIQ contracts are common contract types issued by the GSA, particularly when GSA cannot determine the exact quantity of the services or products needed above a specified minimum.
- Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) – A GSA schedule BPA is used when a government buyer needs ongoing (repetitive) goods or services from a government contractor. This streamlines the hiring process between government agencies and contractors.
- Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) – A GWAC is most commonly used when the federal government wants to acquire innovative internet technology (IT) solutions. This may include systems design, software engineering, information assurance, and enterprise architecture solutions.
GSA also separates available offerings into large categories, which contain subcategories and special item numbers (SIN). The 12 large multiple award schedule (MAS) categories are:
- Office Management Category
- Facilities Category
- Furniture & Furnishing Category
- Human Capital Category
- Industrial Products & Services Category
- Information Technology Category
- Miscellaneous Category
- Professional Services Category
- Scientific Management & Solutions Category
- Security & Protection Category
- Transportation & Logistics Services Category
- Travel Category
You can learn more about the GSA schedule offerings and each MAS category here. Within each large category for GSA schedules, there are subcategories and special item numbers based upon the services and productions that are requested by government agencies via GSA.
For aspiring government contractors, securing a GSA schedule (contract) can be a huge step toward working as a government vendor long-term. The GSA may approve a contractor for a GSA schedule if they have a proven track record of successful government contracts in the past (at least two years in business) and can provide products or services at fair rates for federal government agencies such as the Department of Defense (DOD).
What Does The GSA Do?
GSA is tasked with supplying products, ensuring transportation for federal employees, and other management tasks.
Supply Products And Communications for U.S. Governmental Offices
The GSA is responsible for providing the U.S. governmental offices with products and communication systems. This may include the construction or purchase of IT related products and systems. Government agencies often purchase the necessary products and services from private and nonprofit companies through GSA schedule contracts.
Provide Office Space And Transportation To Federal Employees
The GSA provides workspaces and means of transportation for federal employees across the nation. This is done through the purchasing of certain products and materials as well as through hiring contractors for construction and related services that are necessary to ensure the optimal real estate needed for federal entities and their employees.
Develop Government-Wide Cost-Minimizing Policies
Much like private businesses, the government also wants to minimize their expenditures while still hiring the highest quality of contractors and purchasing the best products available to them. The GSA is also tasked with developing government-wide policies that reduce and minimize costs for various government agencies, including themselves.
What Is A GSA Schedule Contract?
A GSA schedule contract is the process the GSA uses to hire contractors and purchase from GSA approved vendors. The GSA has special (and somewhat strict) requirements for a contractor or vendor to be accepted for a GSA schedule contract.
GSA schedule contracts are known as indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts. This means that the prices and services are pre-determined and there is no specific amount purchased for the ongoing contract. The purpose of GSA schedules is to streamline the hiring and purchasing process when the GSA has a need for certain goods and services.
What Do GSA Schedule Contracts Contain?
GSA schedule contracts outline how much the GSA will pay for the contractor’s goods and services when they are needed by government agencies. The GSA uses certain pricing mechanisms to ensure that contractors offer and receive fair and reasonable prices. As mentioned, GSA schedule contracts are not for any specific job, but they are instead indefinite contracts that are able to be purchased by government agencies when they are needed.
Who Needs A GSA Schedule Contract?
Government contractors are not required to obtain a GSA schedule contract. However, doing so can significantly improve the number of government-issued jobs you are able to receive. In fact, some government agencies only place orders with contractors and vendors that have obtained a GSA schedule contract. So, while a GSA schedule is not essential, it is a great idea to receive one if your organization is eligible. You can learn more about GSA contract award information on the GSA eLibrary.
GSA schedules, also called Multiple Award Schedules or MAS, can benefit government contractors by streamlining the process for government contract procurement.GSA contractors are required to comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM). This includes a proper accounting setup that is compliant with FAR Terms 8.4, part 13 and part 15.