Next Quarter Spending Spree Means
More Opportunities for GSA Vendors
by Denise Rodriguez-Lopez
The summer months are not just a time of increased temperatures, but also of increased procurement activity. Faced with a looming end of the fiscal year on September 30, federal agencies are motivated to use their unspent procurement dollars before it is taken away. This yearly exercise is exacerbated whenever there are continuing resolutions. Due to the late passage of the fiscal 2011 budget, the race to exhaust the remaining funds – estimated at $120 billion – is fiercer this quarter than last year's.
Government vendors with existing contracts are in a beneficial position. With the intensity that goes on during this period, this is not the time for the government to try to get to know someone new. Instead, the use of GSA Schedules for acquisitions becomes especially attractive to agencies given their presumption of competition, the thoroughness of vendor vetting, their ease of use and expedited processes. Vendors like GSA contracts for the same reasons that federal buyers do – no public bids, more cost-effective and reduction in time and paperwork.
Obtaining a GSA contract (or “getting on the schedule”) is a lengthy and involved process, but consider why. A GSA contract is for five years with three additional five-year renewal options – a potential 20-year contract! Essentially, it's repeat business without repeat efforts.
One of the most important considerations is to ensure that you are submitting a proposal for the correct GSA Schedule. The GSA eLibrary has a search engine feature that provides all possible schedule matches based on the key words describing your goods and services. Although there are over 30 schedules covering a multitude of goods and services, remember that not everything is covered.
Other essentials to note:
• Be flexible as you prepare your price list: GSA determines whether prices are fair by comparing the prices and discounts that you offer the government with the prices and discounts that you offer to commercial customers. It's possible to negotiate price increases at a later date based on relevant economic factors.
• Consider teaming with larger GSA Schedule vendors: Large businesses, identified as “O” in the GSA eLibrary, are required to submit a small business contracting plan with their GSA Schedule proposal.
• Highlight your GSA status on all marketing materials: Incorporate the GSA Schedule logo into all print materials and on your website. This sounds like a no-brainer but you will be surprised how often this does not happen.
• Participate in GSA Outreach Activities: The GSA Expo, where more than 9,000 federal, state and local government employees are present, can be a door opener to your targeted agencies.
Getting on the GSA Schedule is a multi-step process, but the opportunities in generating new sales opportunities can more than make up the effort for many businesses. But remember, having a GSA contract is no guarantee of sales unless you make the effort to market your goods and services to your targeted agencies.
Denise Rodriguez-Lopez, former OSDBU Director at the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the American Express OPEN Adviser on Teaming, and serves as president of The KMJ Company, a consulting firm based in Fairfax, VA that specializes in federal government procurement.