The General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for creating contracts between private sector organizations and the government. The GSA enables these organizations to provide millions of commercial products and services at fair and reasonable prices to federal agencies.
With the help of the GSA, business owners can quickly and efficiently procure indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts that can position their organizations as reputable with the federal government, thus increasing their chances of future procurements.
The GSA Schedule Explained
A GSA Schedule is a long-term contract between a government customer and a commercial organization that generally does not have a set timeline or limit. While these customers are generally at the federal level, a contract can be acquired to serve state and local governments as well.
Qualifying organizations that can be awarded a GSA Schedule contract include privately held businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations. Each organization is given a GSA number when they are awarded a contract.
Types Of GSA Contracts
The GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) is a contract vehicle used by the GSA that features several types of contracts. The MAS was designed to expedite the procurement process, as evidenced by the hundreds of subcategories commercial organizations can apply under. There are many types of contracts businesses can be awarded through the MAS, but the twelve main categories include the following:
- 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 and Solutions Category
- Security & Protection Category
- Transportation and Logistics Services Category
- Travel Category
Who Needs A GSA Schedule Contract?
Any organization looking to provide ID/IQ products or services to any federal agency or their local or state government should acquire a GSA Schedule contract. To qualify for a GSA Schedule contract, organizations must prove they have been conducting business for a minimum of two years and that they are financially stable. They must also provide evidence of past performance and that their products are commercially available.
What Can Be Sold Through a GSA Schedule?
Over 11 million commercial products and services are currently available to be sold through GSA Schedules. Most contracts are awarded to organizations that provide commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products and services since they are market-ready.
Construction, architectural, and related services are currently not available on the GSA Schedule, but there have been recent conversations by the federal legislature about permitting them in the future. The sale of firearms and ammunition are not, and will likely never be, allowed on the GSA schedule.
What Do GSA Schedules Offer?
GSA Schedule contracts offer several benefits for commercial organizations over contracts on the open market. When an organization looks to procure a contract, they are able to view all posted opportunities and can easily submit a proposal or make a bid. In addition to easability of procurement and fairness in evaluations, the GSA schedule offers the following benefits to commercial organizations:
Fair And Reasonable Pricing
GSA contracting officers determine fair and reasonable prices for supplies, fixed-price services, and services with hourly rates before a contract is awarded. Often, the GSA will compare contracts that the awarded organization offers on the open market and provide the most favorable pricing for the product or service.
The GSA website provides a complete list of pricing evaluation factors for each contract type that determine the final rates. The offeror must submit the following to the GSA for pricing review:
- Complete Price Proposal Template
- Written justification for offered pricing
- Mechanism for future potential pricing adjustments
- Proof that the price is fair and reasonable (The GSA contracting officer will negotiate and make the final determination on fair and reasonable pricing)
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is a set of rules that establishes the processes and standards for accepting and maintaining government-issued contracts. The GSA evaluates each organization procuring a government contract under FAR Subpart 9.1 using three factors: corporate experience, past performance, and quality control. The evaluations help to ensure that federal contractors exhibit the following:
- Have adequate financial resources to perform the work anticipated by the schedule
- Can meet the delivery/performance requirements
- Have a satisfactory performance record
- Have a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics
- Have the corporate facilities, resources, equipment, skills. and controls to do the work
- Are otherwise qualified and eligible to receive a contract award under federal laws and regulations
Organizations that have procured a GSA Schedule contract or order are also subject to compliance under The Trade Agreements Act (TAA), described in FAR Subpart 25.4, which states that only U.S.-made or designated-country end products may be offered or sold under GSA Schedule contracts.
Broad Service Offerings
The MAS allows for new government contractors to continuously be onboarded at any point during the year. This enables organizations to sell a variety of service offerings to federal customers, with the list of offerings constantly updating.
In addition to the vast number of offerings the government will purchase, organizations also have the opportunity to offer worldwide coverage. Such coverage includes domestic (the 50 states and U.S. territories) and overseas to allow organizations to sell to U.S. consulates, embassies, stations, and intelligence agencies.
Quick Order Placement
All federal contract opportunities over $25,000, including those found on the GSA Schedule, are posted to the central clearinghouse known as FedBizOpps (FBO). This streamlines ordering procedures for organizations to purchase commercial supplies and services faster than on the open market.
When organizations use procedures outlined in FAR Subpart 8.4, they are Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) compliant, meaning they satisfy order placement requirements for contracts with multiple competing offerers. There are some exceptions to the rules, as some schedule orders and blanket purchase agreements do not require posting to the FBO.