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GSA Schedule Partnerships for Small Businesses Blog Feature
Nicholas Williamson

By: Nicholas Williamson on December 27th, 2021

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GSA Schedule Partnerships for Small Businesses

GSA Schedule | Government Business Development | 5 Min Read

Although the large corporations tend to take over the headlines for capturing government contracting opportunities, small businesses have plenty of opportunities to go after in the federal marketplace. Even if you see a Request for Quote (RFQ) that your company may not be able to handle on its own, you shouldn’t necessarily discredit it right away. There are several ways in which small businesses can partner with large or other small businesses to expand their offerings and increase their competitiveness. As a GSA Schedule contractor, there are 4 main ways you can team up with another business. They are: subcontracting, Joint Ventures, partnering with a reseller, and Contractor Team Arrangements (CTA). Let’s dive into each partnership and find out which one could work best for you.

Subcontracting

Small businesses can take advantage of subcontracting to ensure a larger offering to federal customers. Instead of having your own GSA Schedule, you would partner with a prime contractor and sell through their contract. So, you wouldn’t work directly with the government, but you would work with other contractors to provide the federal government with a total solution. Subcontracting is a great opportunity for small businesses who don’t want to hold their own prime GSA Schedule, but still want to sell to the government through a contract vehicle.

If you’re concerned about there not being any opportunities to partner with large businesses—it’s impossible in federal procurement. The federal government requires Other than Small Businesses (OTSB) or better known as large businesses, to create a “practicable opportunity” for small businesses to participate in the federal marketplace. Some large businesses, or OTSB, are required to submit a small business subcontracting plan which includes subcontracting goals and setting aside dollar amounts for small businesses. This means there are plenty of opportunities out there for small businesses to team up.

Where do you go to find businesses to subcontract with? The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a subcontracting network database for you to search for possible partners. You can also find a directory of on-going subcontracting agreements in the GSA Directory. If you want to learn more information about subcontracting and its regulations, you can check out SBA’s page on subcontracting, and the language in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

Joint Ventures

A Joint Venture is when two or more small businesses combine their resources to compete for a contract award. A Joint Venture can be thought of as a teaming arrangement between two or more companies. In this arrangement, a potential prime contractor agrees with one or more other companies to have them act as its subcontractors under a specified government contract or acquisition program.

One thing to keep in mind is that Joint Ventures that include multiple small businesses still qualify for small business set-aside contracts as long as their documentation still meets Small Business Administration (SBA) requirements.

Mentor-Protégé Relationships

Although similar to Joint Ventures, another aspect is the Mentor-Protégé relationships between businesses. The SBA Mentor-Protégé Program allows for small businesses to form a Joint Venture with a mentor (which can be an Other Than Small Business). The venture can compete together for government contracts reserved for small businesses. The Protégé usually gains many valuable business skills throughout the program, so it’s beneficial for all parties involved.

Partnering with a GSA Reseller

If your company doesn't meet all the requirements to get a GSA Schedule, you want to reduce the burden of maintaining your own GSA Schedule, or you want to get on a GSA Schedule faster, you can consider partnering with an authorized GSA reseller. If you partner with a reseller, you can offer your products and services through their prime GSA Schedule contract. They will be listed as the prime contractor, and you would be considered the manufacturer. It's important to note that you don't have to be a small business to partner with a reseller, but small businesses often choose to go down this path. 

As a partner, you do not have to disclose your Most Favored Customer, Commercial Sales Practices (CSP), discounting practices, or financial statements. You can also get on a GSA Schedule faster than applying for your own prime GSA Schedule contract. However, you do not have full control of the contract, meaning you do not have full privity of the contract and cannot make full pricing and modification decisions. As an authorized GSA reseller ourselves, we can help your company decide if this is the right choice for your company among the other partnership options. 

Contractor Teaming Arrangements (CTAs)

A GSA Schedule Contractor Teaming Arrangement (CTA) is an arrangement between two or more GSA Schedule contractors who work together to compete for and fulfill Schedule orders. GSA does not get in the middle of these arrangements, the terms are negotiated between the contractors.

A CTA is an agreement that is very distinct from other types of partnerships that you may participate in. Unlike Joint Ventures mentioned above, a CTA is not a separate legal entity, and unlike subcontracting, all members involved in a CTA need a preexisting GSA Schedule contract.

Contracting Teaming Arrangements would be a great opportunity for small businesses that are already GSA contractors but want to go after more opportunities outside of their current scope. In a CTA, every contractor is considered to be a “prime contractor” which means that every member in a CTA has privity to the contract and can interact directly with the government. Additionally, team members are not limited to selling services or projects under their individually awarded Special Item Numbers (SINs), but can sell under any SIN that is listed on any of the team members’ individual contracts.

Do You Want to Team Up to Sell to the Government?

GSA Schedule partnerships can be beneficial for every contractor involved, with a varying degree on the level of impact and usage that contractors can take advantage of. Figuring out if one of these GSA Schedule partnerships is right for your business can be a difficult process. If you want to learn more about potential GSA Schedule partnerships, or want to find out how to seize more opportunities in the federal marketplace, we would be happy to help you. If you want more information on small business opportunities, check out our recent blog on small businesses resources.

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About Nicholas Williamson

Nicholas Williamson is a Lead Consultant in Winvale’s Richmond office. Nicholas is a native of Roanoke, Virginia and a recent graduate from James Madison University with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Political Science.