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4 Tips for Preparing a Successful GSA MAS Offer Blog Feature
Lucy Hoak

By: Lucy Hoak on January 10th, 2024

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4 Tips for Preparing a Successful GSA MAS Offer

GSA Schedule | 6 Min Read

If you’re considering selling to the government, entering the government marketplace through the GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) is a safe bet. Eligible companies who successfully become MAS contractors can benefit from streamlined acquisition processes and expanded access to government contracting opportunities.

Before you can enjoy the advantages of a MAS contract, however, you’ll have to put considerable effort and time into preparing an MAS offer. Strategically approaching your MAS offer preparation can boost your chances of successfully being awarded a GSA Schedule contract, while making the process less arduous. In this blog, we’ll share 4 of our tried and tested tips for creating a successful GSA MAS offer.

1. Understand the GSA Schedule’s Terms and Conditions and Offer Requirements

The process of preparing an MAS offer will be easier if you understand some basics about the terms and conditions of your future MAS contract. To understand the Schedule’s terms and conditions, prospective offerors should review GSA’s MAS Solicitation in its entirety. You may find it helpful to review key terminology used in the government contracting world before diving into the Solicitation.

The MAS Solicitation details everything you’ll need to know about your GSA Schedule contract. It’s made up of multiple documents laying out the terms and conditions applicable to Schedule contracts, along with offer preparation instructions and evaluation criteria for offerors. In the Solicitation, you can find: the required elements of an offer, the criteria used to evaluate an offer, and specific instructions for each offeror depending on their Special Item Number (SIN). Large Categories have their own solicitations with information on additional requirements for specific SINs. These special requirements can include writing additional technical narratives or participating in an oral examination, so it’s important to review your Large Category Solicitation in advance to have a full grasp of what your offer preparation will involve.

It’s also important to note that GSA periodically refreshes the Solicitation, as we saw with the most recent Solicitation Refresh #19, and in that case you’ll want to be diligent about reviewing all the updates. While the MAS Solicitation isn’t a quick read, thoroughly reviewing it upfront will make you more prepared to create a successful offer.

2. Research the GSA MAS Program and Your GSA Niche

In order to submit a successful MAS offer, you’ll need to understand the regulations, features, and policies that will guide your Schedule. For example, the Vendor Support Center is a helpful resource for researching the MAS program and keeping up with Schedule updates. 

As part of your research, you should spend time investigating potential SINs for your company, since your SINs will shape your offer requirements as well as the market you’ll compete in once you’re on the Schedule. Reviewing the MAS Solicitation, per our first tip, should help you recognize where your company fits into the available Large Categories, Subcategories, and Special Item Numbers. Make sure you also review the Available Offerings and Requirements released by GSA to help you determine where your offerings best fit into the GSA MAS program.

In addition to researching the MAS program itself, you should be conducting market research on your potential GSA competitors. Prior to a contract award being made, the GSA Contracting Officer assigned to your offer must determine that the prices you are proposing are “fair and reasonable.” Fair and reasonable pricing refers to pricing that is competitive within the commercial and federal market. Looking into your competitors’ GSA pricing well in advance of the contract review stage will highlight your readiness to GSA and show that you are willing to go the extra mile for your MAS offer.

While it’s beneficial to do your own research into the MAS program and any potential competitors in your proposed SIN(s), it’s also a requirement. GSA requires a company official to complete the Pathways to Success and the Readiness Assessment training on GSA’s MAS Roadmap site as part of your proposal to be a GSA Schedule contractor. These trainings help ensure that you’re ready to submit an offer under the GSA Large Category, Subcategory and SINs that best fit your particular offering. The Readiness Assessment also includes an interactive tool for conducting research on competitors within your SIN.

3. Set Realistic Expectations and Assemble Your Team

It takes time to fully understand all the components of an MAS offer and to put together the offer itself, so be sure to be realistic about your employees’ bandwidth to take on the task. Assembling, crafting, and finalizing all the documentation required for a successful offer can take several months. Once the MAS offer is submitted, GSA reviews each Schedule proposal in the order that it is received. As a result, the proposal and award process may take up to 12 months, depending on the Contracting Officer, their workload, how many offerings you have, and any requirements they may hold.

In addition to expending time and effort during the MAS offer process, your company should expect to devote resources to marketing and maintaining your Schedule after it’s awarded. Since having a GSA Schedule does not guarantee that you’ll receive orders, you’ll need to market your business in order to compete against other Schedule contractors. You’ll also need to make sure you are maintaining contract compliance.

As you set expectations for your entry and growth in the federal marketplace, you’ll want to put together a team that can keep you on target both before and after contract award. Since the documentation that goes into an MAS offer includes everything from technical narratives to company financials, it’s a good idea to assemble a team with individuals from your company who can most effectively prepare the required documents. You may also want to consider adding a public sector consultant to your team. Having expert guidance in the process can help you understand what Contracting Officers look for in a successful offer and can help you navigate contract modifications after award.

4. Take Your Time with Your GSA Schedule Offer

Crafting a successful offer starts with taking your time. Since GSA has high standards during the review process, it’s important to give yourself enough time to carefully review your offer elements several times to ensure compliance with the Solicitation. Multiple read-throughs of any documents you’re going to submit in the offer package can help avoid inconsistencies or compliance errors. Make sure to also check before submission that you’re using the most up-to-date templates of your documents, since GSA often updates offer templates when releasing refreshes of the MAS Solicitation.

In addition to reviewing your offer thoroughly before submission, we recommend setting yourself up for success by creating a checklist of the required elements for your offer using the MAS Solicitation and your Large Category Solicitation. Referring back to a checklist will help you spot missing documentation early, which is especially important for items requiring extra time, such as gathering invoicing support or waiting for your System for Award Management (SAM) registration to be processed. Taking the time to submit an offer that is competitive, complete, and compliant will pay off in the GSA review process.

Are You Ready to Prepare Your MAS Offer?

At this point, you’ve read the Solicitation to determine requirements for your offer, found your niche within the Schedule, set your expectations for your timeline and team, and prepared yourself for the long haul. With these strategies in your toolbox, you should be well-equipped to prepare a successful MAS offer and break into the federal marketplace.

However, it’s normal to find yourself facing a stumbling block even after employing these strategies. Often, additional research and guidance from experts can make your MAS offer preparation process go more smoothly. As a first step, we encourage you to read our comprehensive blog series on preparing a Schedule offer. And if you’re looking for more personalized advice on your MAS offer, we encourage you to reach out to a member of the Winvale team.

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About Lucy Hoak

Lucy Hoak is a Proposal Writer for Winvale. Lucy is originally from Falls Church, Virginia and graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in English.