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The Ultimate Guide to the GSA Schedule

Everything you need to know about acquiring, maintaining, and managing a GSA Schedule Contract.

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Introduction to the GSA Schedule

What is a GSA Schedule?

The General Services Administration (GSA) was created by President Harry Truman in 1949 to streamline the acquisition and administrative work of the federal government. GSA has grown tremendously since the late 1940s and is America's only source made solely to procure goods and services for the U.S. government. GSA provides centralized procurement for the federal government, lessening the administrative burden on other federal agencies.

GSA offers a wide array of products and services that federal agencies need to serve the general public. The GSA Schedules program provides shorter lead times and transparency to the government and for commercial vendors. The Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) delivers comprehensive products and services across government at the best value for the taxpayer dollar. The GSA Schedules program generates approximately $33 billion a year.

For companies that want a GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contract, a proposal must be submitted that complies with the applicable GSA solicitation, depending on the products or services the vendor wants to offer the government. GSA Schedules are open enrollment, so companies can apply at any time, allowing companies to dive into the federal market when they are willing and able.

One big difference between selling your products and services through a GSA contract as opposed to selling commercially, is that when you sell through a GSA contract, the terms and conditions are previously agreed upon through the GSA Schedule acquisition process. Having agreed upon terms and conditions simplifies the buying process for the different federal agencies in the government.

And for the vendor, a GSA contract opens a new realm of opportunities in the federal marketplace. By having a GSA contract, government agencies know that your prices and company are previously vetted, which gives them access to buy from you. The contract was created by the General Services Administration (GSA)-- an agency created with the sole purpose to help support federal agencies to buy products and services from vendors.

What are the pros and cons of being on a GSA Schedule?

The GSA Schedules program has a lot of great advantages for potential contractors, but it’s important to do a cost/benefit analysis before jumping into the federal marketplace.

  • PRO: The GSA MAS program is well-established and highly utilized as a contracting vehicle for federal government procurement. It’s a diverse platform for government purchasing — GSA offers products and services covering industries from Information Technology to Integrated Consulting to Furniture and more! There’s a wealth of opportunity in the MAS program for everyone.

  • CON: Where there are business opportunities, there must be effort. Potential contractors should consider that they will need to dedicate a considerable amount of time and resources to acquire a GSA Schedule, and to keep their contract current and compliant. A GSA MAS contract lives and grows with your company, and as such, it needs to be updated as pricing changes, as services/products are discontinued and added on, as contract administrators change, etc. All these updates need to be made through a modification process with your Contracting Officer, so they will take time to complete. A GSA Schedule is a contract with the government, so your company needs to have processes in place to be sure that they are completing all the terms and conditions, such as delivery times and pricing requirements.

  • PRO: Although working with the government can sometimes feel overwhelming, there are tools to help you learn more about the GSA world and stay current on any GSA updates. The Roadmap for New Schedule Offerors, Vendor Support Center, and Vendor Education Center are all great websites for educational resources to begin the process of getting on a GSA Schedule. The Pathways to Success training, along with the readiness assessment that the VEC offers, is incredibly helpful for new contractors and those who would like to brush up on their GSA knowledge. The Vendor Support Center can also direct you to the correct person depending on the problem at hand. While things at GSA are sometimes complicated, there is always someone to help!

  • CON: The GSA Schedule is a contracting vehicle, not a guaranteed source of revenue for contractors. There is no such thing as “passive income,” especially in the world of GSA! It’s important for GSA contractors to be proactive in networking with government agencies and publicizing their GSA contract in order to meet the minimum sales requirement of $25,000 a year for GSA. If sufficient effort is not put into the GSA contract and seeking opportunities, it’s possible the contract could be cancelled if the minimum sales requirement is not met.

Getting a GSA MAS contract isn’t right for every organization, so it’s crucial to do an in-depth evaluation before dedicating time and resources to the project. However, once your organization has determined that a GSA Schedule is a good fit, it can be an effective tool in building your government sales.



What are the Schedule policy and procedures?

The GSA MAS program is guided by two major governing regulatory documents: FAR & GSAM.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) contains the principal rules and regulations governing the federal acquisition process. It ensures that purchasing procedures remain standard and consistent across GSA contractors, so that there is a standard document to look to despite the differences in Large Categories. Many GSA contract provisions and clauses reference the Federal Acquisition Regulation, so it is important to at least familiarize yourself with the document in order to understand the GSA Schedule acquisition process.

Additionally, FAR 8.002 (Priorities for Use of Mandatory Sources) outlines an order of procurement that federal agencies need to follow when purchasing supplies or services. This is helpful for GSA Schedule holders because this section of the FAR mandates that if purchases can be completed through a Federal Supply Schedule, such as the GSA Multiple Award Schedule Program, they need to be done before agencies seek other Commercial Sources. The FAR can be used to your advantage if you know it!

This clause benefits GSA MAS contract holders because federal purchasing entities are required to look to sources for prioritization of acquisition -- GSA being near the top.

GSAM is the General Services Acquisition Manual. The GSAM provides background on the purpose of GSA, definitions of key words and terms frequently used in the GSA world, and gives an outline to competition and acquisition planning. While the FAR is used for all federal acquisition, the GSAM is specific to GSA, making it especially pertinent for potential GSA contractors. The GSAM will answer practically any question you may have about GSA—socioeconomic programs that contractors can utilize, contracting requirements, and contracting methods as well as types. It may not be light reading, but it is very helpful in the long run.

What do GSA Schedules offer?

Regulatory Compliance

One key perk of working within the GSA system is during the GSA acquisition process, GSA evaluates each offeror to ensure that they are responsible contractors, per FAR Subpart 9.1. This vetting process while obtaining a GSA MAS contract proves that contractors:

  • 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

Working to get a GSA contract takes a decent amount of time and effort to obtain, but the vetting process showcases that your company is capable of complying with Federal Acquisition rules and is eligible to work with the government.

Fair and Reasonable Pricing

Before awarding a GSA MAS contract, GSA Contracting Officers (COs) determine that the prices offered for goods and services are “fair and reasonable.” GSA compares the prices a company offers the government with the best prices or discounts that the company offers to its own commercial customers -- "most favored customer" pricing.

To determine “fair and reasonable” pricing, the GSA Contracting Officer considers many factors, including pricing on competitor contracts, historical pricing, and currently available pricing from other sources.

As part of the pricing review, the offeror must submit:

  • Complete Price Proposal Template
  • Pricing support 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.”)

View the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) solicitation for a complete list of evaluation factors and terms and conditions to see if your prices are “fair and reasonable”!

Fast Order Placement

Because GSA prices have already been determined to be “fair and reasonable,” ordering is much easier for government agencies. Ordering procedures through GSA allow agencies to purchase commercial products and services quicker than buying through the open market. This is a win-win situation for contractors and for the buying agencies! Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 8.4 outlines streamlined ordering procedures for Schedules so agencies can focus on the unique requirements of the purchase. These ordering procedures apply to all federal agencies. In addition to ordering guidelines, GSA offers additional information related to Schedules' unique features and flexibilities and electronic buying tools.

It's important to note that orders placed against a MAS contract:

  • Must follow the procedures set forth in FAR 8.4
  • May be set aside for small business at the ordering Contracting Officer’s discretion

Because pricing has already been vetted, orders can be placed much more quickly than they would be on the open market!

Full Product and Broad Service Offerings

GSA has a huge depth and breadth of offerings available to buyers. MAS contractors maintain continuous coverage and offer the latest innovative solutions and technologies. Schedules accomplish this through a continuously open solicitation, allowing GSA to continuously onboard new contractors. In addition, GSA is able to update offerings to include new and innovative solutions to make sure that the government has access to the best the industry has to offer. In general, the MAS Solicitation is open for new contractors to submit an offer at any time.

The Multiple Award Schedule gives contractors the opportunity to offer worldwide coverage. MAS contractors may offer any of the following three categories of geographic coverage:

  • Domestic - covers delivery to the 48 contiguous states, Washington, DC, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico; and the U.S. territories;
  • Worldwide - covers delivery domestically and overseas; and
  • Overseas Only - covers delivery to overseas destinations.

To facilitate the contract award and buying process, the MAS is organized into Large Categories of products and services offerings. Large Categories are further sorted into subcategories and Special Item Numbers (SINs), which are clearly outlined in GSA eLibrary. This means that a wide array of contractors are able to get on schedule, and the government has access to a great deal of goods and services.

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What types of GSA Contracts are there?

A GSA Schedule is a Multiple Award Schedule (or MAS) program whereby multiple vendors receive award on a single contracting vehicle. The GSA Schedule is also an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (or IDIQ) contracting vehicle, meaning the amount of products/services required are undetermined. 

The GSA Schedules program serves as an acquisition vehicle for the executive branch of the United States government to purchase commercially available products and services. In some cases, state and local governments can also purchase from the GSA Schedules program. This contracting vehicle offers more than 11 million products and services and accounted for roughly $32 billion in federal procurement spending during the 2018 federal fiscal year.

Here is a comprehensive list of the GSA MAS categories/subcategories available to federal buyers:

A – Office Management

  • A01 - Audio Visual Products
  • A02 - Audio Visual Services
  • A03 - Document Services
  • A04 - Mail Management
  • A05 - Office Management Maintenance and Repair
  • A06 - Media Products
  • A07 - Media Services
  • A08 - Office Services
  • A09 - Office Supplies
  • A10 - Printing and Photographic Equipment
  • A11 - Records Management

B - Facilities

  • B01 - Facilities Maintenance and Repair
  • B02 - Facilities Services
  • B03 - Facilities Solutions
  • B04 - Facilities Supplies
  • B05 - Food Service Equipment
  • B06 - Structures

C - Furniture & Furnishings

  • C01 - Flooring
  • C02 - Furniture Services
  • C03 - Healthcare Furniture
  • C04 - Household, Dormitory & Quarters Furniture
  • C05 - Miscellaneous Furniture
  • C06 - Office Furniture
  • C07 - Packaged Furniture
  • C08 - Signs
  • C09 - Fitness Solutions

D - Human Capital

  • D01 - Background Investigations
  • D02 - Compensation and Benefits
  • D03 - Human Resources
  • D04 - Social Services
  • D05 - Temporary Help Services

E - Industrial Products and Services

  • E01 - Cleaning Supplies
  • E02 - Fire/Rescue/Safety/Environmental Protection Equipment
  • E03 - Fuel Management
  • E04 - Hardware and Tools
  • E05 - Industrial Products
  • E06 - Machinery and Components
  • E07 - Industrial Products and Services Maintenance and Repair
  • E08 - Packaging
  • E09 - Test and Measurement Supplies

F - Information Technology

  • F01 - Electronic Commerce
  • F02 - IT Hardware
  • F03 - IT Services
  • F04 - IT Software
  • F05 - IT Solutions
  • F06 - IT Training
  • F07 - Telecommunications 

G - Miscellaneous

  • G01 - Awards
  • G02 - Flags
  • G03 - Musical Instruments
  • G04 - Personal Hair Care Items
  • G05 - Apparel
  • G06 - Complimentary Special Item Numbers (SINs)

H - Professional Services

  • H01 - Business Administrative Services
  • H02 - Environmental Services
  • H03 - Financial Services
  • H04 - Identity Protection Services
  • H05 - Language Services
  • H06 - Legal Services
  • H07 - Logistical Services
  • H08 - Marketing and Public Relations
  • H09 - Technical and Engineering Services (non-IT)
  • H10 - Training

I - Scientific Management and Solutions

  • I01 - Laboratory Animals
  • I02 - Laboratory Equipment
  • I03 - Medical Equipment
  • I04 - Scientific Services
  • I05 - Search and Navigation
  • I06 - Testing and Analysis

J - Security and Protection

  • J01 - Marine and Harbor
  • J02 - Protective Equipment
  • J03 - Security Animals and Related Services
  • J04 - Security Services
  • J05 - Security Systems
  • J06 - Testing Equipment

K - Transportation and Logistics Services

  • K01 - Automotive Body Maintenance and Repair
  • K02 - Motor Vehicles (non-Combat)
  • K03 - Package Delivery
  • K04 - Packaging Services
  • K05 - Transportation of Things

L - Travel

  • L01 - Employee Relocation
  • L02 - Lodging
  • L03 - Travel Agent and Misc Services

In addition to the MAS program, GSA also manages other types of multiple award contracts known as Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (or GWAC) and Multi-Agency Contracts (or MACs). GWACs are directed by the Office of Management and Budget (or OMB) and pursuant to section 5112(e) of the Clinger-Cohen Act. The Economy Act does not apply when placing orders under GWACs. MACs offer a variety of supplies and services and applicable to the Economy Act.

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What are the features of a GSA Schedule?

For Buyers

1. Negotiated contract ceiling prices

GSA Contracting Officers and Contract Specialists pre-review products and services awarded in GSA MAS contracts to ensure the price awarded to the contract which the customer pays is “fair and reasonable.” These pre-negotiated ceiling prices achieve the best value for customers buying from a GSA MAS contractor.

2. Opportunities for discounts at the order level

Competition for contractors to receive orders through the GSA Schedules program is high, meaning that buyers should expect multiple contractors to respond to their product and service needs. GSA understands that overall best value is highly important to buyers. However, the Schedules program also allows its contractors to offer additional discounts on their products and services at the task order level to ensure that our customers are receiving responses that include the best pricing available. The GSA’s online procurement tools GSA eBuy and GSA Advantage!® make it easy for buyers to request quotes and additional discounting for services and products available through GSA MAS contracts.


3. Single contracting vehicle to fulfill complex or ongoing needs and reduce overall contract awards and administration

Because a GSA Schedule contract is an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS), the nature of the GSA Schedules Program not only produces streamlined ordering procedures, but also includes key features such as Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), Contractor Teaming Arrangements (CTAs), and the ability to easily connect with small businesses. These features provide buyers with a single contracting vehicle to fulfill complex or ongoing needs and reduce overall contract awards and administration.

4. Less administrative time and contract documentation, since the master contract is managed by GSA

Contracts awarded as a GSA Schedule are managed by GSA’s Contract Specialists, Contracting Officers (COs), Administrative Contracting Officers (ACOs) and Industrial Operations Analysts (IOAs). The team of GSA specialists assigned to each master contract not only review and verify fair and reasonable pricing, but they also oversee the contractor’s compliance with the Federal Supply Schedules regulations and the respective GSA Schedule Solicitation for their MAS contract which enforce necessary FAR regulations. By managing each GSA MAS contract with a team of GSA officers, government buyers spend less time on the administrative and documentation requirements associated with the procurement process.

5. Socioeconomic credit for orders awarded to small business and other socioeconomic categories

Through the Schedules Program, GSA increases contracting opportunities for small businesses, and assists buyers in achieving or exceeding their socioeconomic goals. Small Business Administration (SBA) policy allows agencies to include in their procurement base and goals the dollar value of orders expected to be placed against GSA MAS contracts, and to report actual Schedule procurements as accomplishments against these goals.

MAS contractors are identified in GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage!® by socioeconomic indicators: Other Than Small (o), Small Business (s), SBA Certified Small Disadvantaged Business (d), Women-Owned Business (w), Veteran-Owned Small Business (v), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (dv), SBA Certified HUBZone Firm (h), and SBA Certified 8(a) Firm (h). Buyers awarding orders from these socioeconomic categories receive credit toward their business size purchasing goals when utilizing GSA Schedules.


For Sellers

1. Increased opportunities to reach federal buyers

Federal buyers seek out procurement through the GSA Schedule program because it offers negotiated contract ceiling prices, opportunities for discounts at the order level, a single contracting vehicle to fulfill complex or ongoing needs and reduce overall contract awards and administration, less administrative time and contract documentation, since the master contract is managed by GSA, and socioeconomic credit for orders awarded to small business and other socioeconomic categories.

For sellers on the GSA Schedule program, federal buyers know the awarded products and services offered by each contractor have endured a preliminary review by GSA to ensure that the contractor has experience providing the products and services offered, and that the items awarded onto each contract are offered at fair and reasonable pricing. Each seller’s awarded product and/or service offering is posted online on GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage!® websites, which federal customers use frequently to search for contractors who are selling products/services that meet the customer’s needs.

This allows the GSA seller more exposure to agency buyers during the most important time for agency procurement: preliminary research conducted far in advance of formal Requests for Information (RFIs), Requests for Proposal (RFPs), and Requests for Quote (RFQs) published to various procurement platforms.

Additionally, federal buyers often prefer to release opportunities through GSA eBuy – which is only viewable by GSA sellers – because this method still meets agency procurement requirements for fair competition without having to open up to all federal contractors and having to filter through a high number of responses which are usually experienced when posting an opportunity on


2. Increased opportunities for socioeconomic set-asides

GSA and the SBA strongly support the participation of small business concerns in the GSA Schedules Program. Orders placed against MAS contracts may be reported as agency accomplishments and credited toward ordering activities' small business goals. This incentive encourages all types of small business designations to become a GSA seller because the Schedules Program is where agencies are looking for contractors that may help them meet the agency’s small business goals. Because agencies have the ability to search for potential contractors in the GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage!®, they can also predict which agencies are capable of providing the product(s) and/or service(s) they seek.

At the discretion of the buying CO, if market research shows that two or more small businesses as identified in FAR 19.000(a)(3) are capable of providing the products and/or services required, then orders and BPAs may be set aside for small businesses. The eligible small business types include concerns, 8(a) participants, HUBZone small business concerns, SDVOSB concerns, and EDWOSB, WOSB concerns eligible under the WOSB Program.

After determining that at least two small business designations will respond to a procurement opportunity, the agency can then publish that opportunity as a socioeconomic set-aside for that specific small business category. This means that “Other Than Small” (Non-profits and Large Business) designations and all other socioeconomic categories besides those identified as set-aside in the opportunity are not eligible to win the order. The benefit of socioeconomic set-asides narrows the competition to allow more small businesses the opportunity to win.


3. Opportunity for a 20-year contract, if all options are exercised

Sellers awarded a GSA contract could have that contract for up to 20 years when including all option periods. Newly awarded GSA contractors receive their first term under a five-year Base Period, and as long as they are successful in selling off their GSA Schedule, sellers are eligible to exercise up to three additional Option Periods, each at five-year terms.

This explains why so much documentation, review, and evaluation take place during the GSA proposal process; it is because GSA wants to ensure that its contractors can fulfill orders for buyers in the long term. This process also communicates to GSA customers that the contractors which are awarded a GSA Schedule have been found stable and viable to sell authorized products and/or services to government customers for a minimum five-year period, which attracts government customers to the Schedules program for procurement.

Audit Issues & Compliance Risks


What do you have to know?

The GSA MAS Solicitation’s policy and procedures are guided by two major governing regulatory documents: Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 38 prescribes policies and procedures that GSA must follow in managing the Schedules program. FAR Subpart 8.4 prescribes ordering procedures for federal agencies when placing orders for supplies and services under Schedules; and General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM) covers GSA acquisition policies and practices.

GSA contractors are required to maintain and comply with these federal regulations throughout the contract’s life. At least once per five-year term, GSA contractors will undergo a Contract Assessment conducted by their IOA. Numerous records of incompliance with the MAS requirements could ultimately result in the cancellation of the seller’s contract. To maintain compliance and prevent risk of losing a MAS contract, sellers should be aware of:

Minimum Sales Requirement

All sellers with a GSA Schedule are required to sell a minimum of $25,000 annually through the Schedule in order to maintain their contract or to be eligible for upcoming Option Periods. New GSA contractors are given the first 24 months to generate $25,000 in GSA Sales, but once the first two years has passed, the requirement becomes an annual minimum of $25,000.

Administrative Compliance Requirements

In addition to making sure Registrations are renewed every 12 months and submitting the requires VETS 4212 report every September, GSA contractors are required to stay current with updates to the MAS Solicitation, which result in the form of Mass Modifications. Mass Modifications summarize the changes to the regulations and clauses in the MAS Solicitation and contractors are required to respond via the GSA’s Mass Mod portal. Currently, there is a multi-factor authentication security requirement for the Mass Mod portal in the form of the GSA FAS ID. Only authorized negotiators with signatory authority on the contract can sign Mass Modifications on behalf of the company. For this reason, it is also important that sellers keep their list of Authorized Agents on the contract current and accurate.

GSA sellers which perform stand-alone services are also required to complete E-Verify enrollment with USCIS 30 days after contract award for current service employees, and then all new employees within three business days of hiring. Sellers with 50 employees and $50,000 in government contracts will need to also complete EEO-1 Survey and have an Affirmative Action Program on file.

Other administrative requirements that should always be current and accurate are point of contact information, company address, and making sure that at least one person at your company holds an active digital certificate.

Pricing Compliance Requirements

One of the most critical GSA compliance areas is ensuring that the discount relationships for items awarded on the MAS contract are maintained at all times. For sellers who are awarded a MAS contract under the Transactional Data Rule (TDR), the discount which the GSA customer receives off the Commercial or Market List Price must be maintained.

For sellers that are awarded a non-TDR Schedule, the Price Reductions Clause applies, which states that the discount relationship between the seller’s Most Favored Customer (MFC) or Basis of Award (BOA) Customer pricing and the pricing offered to GSA must be maintained. If changes in the discount to the MFC/BOA occur, an equal change will need to be reflected in the GSA discount. If a change in the MFC/BOA does take place, this will trigger the Price Reductions Clause and sellers are required to notify their GSA CO within 15 days of this change. It is critical that sellers establish a system or process which can monitor this discount delta relationship throughout the lifetime of the contract.

During a Contract Assessment with the IOA, the analyst will evaluate the price at which the seller’s GSA products and/or services are being sold to both commercial and government customers. The purpose of this review is to ensure the sales practices incorporated into the contract are maintained. If changes are discovered, GSA may require a pricing modification to be incorporated. If serious errors with compliance are discovered by GSA, it could result in consequences ranging from penalties and fines, formal Office of Inspector General audits, contract cancellations, and finally corporate suspension and debarment.

Sales Reporting Requirements

Sellers are required to track and report GSA MAS sales, and remit the Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) for all sales made against their MAS contract. The reporting and IFF remittance frequency will depend on how the MAS contract is awarded. Contracts awarded under TDR will report sales monthly and have the option to remit IFF payments on a monthly basis or quarterly. Non-TDR contracts will report sales and pay the IFF on a quarterly basis. It is crucial for sellers to have an efficient system in place that allows for consistency with tracking and reporting sales to prevent any over-reporting or under-reporting of sales thus resulting in an over-payment or under-payment of IFF.

Small Business Subcontract Plan Reporting Requirements

Other Than Small Business sellers with a GSA contract are required to have a Small Business Subcontracting Plan incorporated into their GSA contract. Depending on the type of Small Business Subcontracting Plan chosen by the firm and approved by the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), the reporting requirements vary.

Goals determined for Individual SB Subcontracting Plans are valid for the life of the contract and Individual Subcontracting Reports (ISR) for these plans must be submitted bi-annually, while the Summary Subcontracting Report (SSR) for this plan must be submitted annually.

Goals determined for Commercial Small Business Subcontracting Plans are valid for 12 months at a time; new plans must be renewed and approved by OSBDU every year for the life of the GSA contract; and the Summary Subcontracting Report (SSR) for this plan must be submitted annually.

Often, subcontracting performance is tracked by GSA through Contractor Performance Assessment Reports which GSA contractors are required to review and respond. For now, sellers which do not meet their Small Business Subcontracting Plan goals are not issued fines or penalties, but GSA does monitor performance (or lack thereof) in each socioeconomic category and may require sellers to address how their performance will be improved; additionally, it could affect the seller’s ability to win competitive bids if SB subcontracting past performance is marginal or unsatisfactory.

Issuing formal penalties for not meeting SB Subcontracting goals has been a topic of conversation among the federal regulation industry for some years now, but currently the most severe compliance risks lie in the contractor’s failure to make a “good-faith effort” to comply with the regulations of its agreed subcontracting plan. Willful or intentional failure to perform in accordance with the requirements of the subcontracting plan, or willful or intentional action to frustrate the plan can result in the government holding the contractor in material breach of contract or the government could assess liquidated damages in an amount equal to the actual dollar amount which the contractor failed to achieve. In extreme situations where the government believes that a contractor actively engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the government through the performance of its subcontracting plan, the government may bring civil or criminal fraud and conspiracy charges against a contractor.

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How to Obtain a GSA Schedule

A GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contract is often the first step that a company looking to get into the federal marketplace will take to establish itself as a valued government partner and increase its footprint in the public sector. Contractors can sell just about anything through the GSA Schedules program, making it appealing to a variety of industries. Contractors may sell everything from building supplies, furniture, and medical tools to cloud services, cybersecurity and cutting-edge information technology (IT). Contractors may also sell their services including professional, technical, and consulting services. Having a GSA MAS contract awarded can be mutually beneficial for both a company’s growth and the government’s ability to acquire a high volume of high-quality, low-cost goods and services.

While the advantages are clear, it is important to understand the process of obtaining a GSA Schedule before determining if it is right for your business. GSA will only award contracts to companies they deem as suitable industry partners, and there are specific requirements for eligibility. In order to qualify to apply for a GSA MAS contract, companies are required to be in business for at least two (2) years and show revenue of at least $25,000 per year.

The reasoning behind this is that the two primary determinations that GSA will make when reviewing a company’s proposal are overall financial fitness and performance capability. GSA looks at companies’ past performance as well as their ability to perform tasks/fulfill orders that will be required once the contract is awarded. However, if you are an IT small business, you may be eligible for the IT Springboard Program. With the rapid emergence of new technologies, GSA wants to get the latest technology to federal agencies quicker. This program allows companies with less than two (2) years of experience to submit proposals for a GSA MAS contract.

The GSA MAS contract is designed to correspond directly with a company’s commercial sales practices. For this reason, potential contractors are required to prove that the products or services they propose to sell on the GSA MAS contract have been sold to their commercial customers. This helps GSA determine fair and reasonable pricing and ensures that companies are able to provide the proposed products and services. Invoices, pricing proposals or other forms of pricing support are required to submit with an offer to prove a company’s commercial prices.

Companies that sell products must also ensure that they are compliant with the Trade Agreement Act. Items sold through the GSA contract must either be manufactured in a TAA compliant country, or the final product must be substantially transformed in the United States or another TAA compliant country. Lastly, potential contractors are required to have a Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) Number and an active registration. While these preliminary requirements can be easily overlooked, they are immensely important to review before diving into the process of submitting a GSA proposal.

The next step in preparing a GSA Schedule proposal is determining where your company may fit in the scope of the entire program. IT services providers, law enforcement and security solutions firms, and many more types of businesses each have a place in the Schedules program. Once a company has determined the Large Category(ies) they will pursue, a further scope determination will need to be performed.

After a Large Category is selected, the next step is to determine the Special Item Numbers (SINs) that your products or services fit under. Each Large Category has a variety of SINs that further specify the product/ service offering. For example, Large Category F (Information Technology) includes SINs such as Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services (54151HACS), Health IT Services (54151HEAL) and IT Professional Services (54151S) among many others. Each Large Category has a set number of these designations that contractors will need to review and assign to their product/service offering.

Once a scope review is complete and a company has determined where their offering best fits within the Schedules program, the next step is the creation of the proposal. The proposal is separated out into three main sections – administrative, technical and pricing. Each of these sections has its own specific requirements based on the Large Category and SINs that the company will be offering. The requirements for each Large Category can be found on via the GSA eLibrary website. It is important to thoroughly review the MAS Solicitation documents before submitting a GSA proposal. These Large Category-specific documents will outline the necessary documentation for submission, guidelines for the technical review, and other specific review requirements as they pertain to the Schedule.

The total proposal that is to be submitted is very extensive and requires a large number of documents including examples of past performance of the type of work described in the solicitation, pricing justification, commercial sales practice disclosures, pricing support and more. The sheer size of the proposal can be intimidating, and many wonder how long it will take to complete from initiation to submission and from submission to award.

Unfortunately, there isn't an exact time frame that can be given for either. The time it takes to prepare an offer is dependent on the company’s knowledge of the process, time and resources available and accessibility to necessary documentation. Getting on a GSA MAS contract is a complex process that requires documenting, pulling, and preparing large amounts of information in a precise GSA-specific way. This includes prerequisite registrations (such as the System for Award Management registration), administrative company information, past performance references, customer reviews/ratings, and more. If attempting this process on your own, it is wise to budget about a year.

It also depends on what Large Category you are seeking to obtain. Some Large Categories, such as Large Category B (Facilities) or Large Category H (Professional Services) could take a year from submission to the actual award. On the other hand, Large Category F (IT) typically runs on a more expedited schedule, sometimes taking only three months from submission to award.

Once submitted, the proposal will undergo a preliminary review and could be chosen for a financial review, where GSA digs deeper into a companies’ financial stability. A contracting officer will be assigned to review the proposal and can either reject the proposal for insufficiencies or request further clarifications.

Once the Contracting Officer has received all clarifications, he or she will initiate negotiations to request GSA discounts such as a higher standard GSA discount, quantity/volume discounts or prompt payment discounts. Upon completion of negotiations, potential contractors are asked to draft a Final Proposal Revision (FPR) with all the agreed upon terms and conditions of the contract, sign and return to the contracting officer. Once this has been completed, the contracting officer will sign and award the contract.

Once a GSA MAS contract is awarded, the contractor will gain access to a variety of resources that will help grow the public sector portion of the business. In addition to being visible on websites such as GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage!®, approved contractors will have access to GSA-specific Requests for Proposal (RFPs) and Requests for Quotes (RFQs).

Due to the streamlined nature of the program and ease of use for government buyers, over $33 billion annually flows through GSA exclusive contracts with industry partners. In order to be eligible to receive any portion of those opportunities, a contract proposal will have to be submitted and reviewed by a GSA Contracting Officer before award. GSA Contracting Officers review every company’s proposal in extreme detail before awarding the contract to assure that all information provided is current, accurate, and complete. Preparing and submitting a finely polished proposal to GSA shows a company’s responsibility and fitness to enter into and perform work through the GSA Schedule.

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Ability to Sell to the Government

Unlocking the potential of public sector sales is a huge opportunity for any business. Entering into contracts with the government at any level can seem daunting and foreign, especially to those who have little to no experience in the field.  Although there are similarities between selling to commercial customers and selling to government agencies, it is important to know the processes of successfully utilizing a contract vehicle to its full potential.

The GSA MAS program was designed with contractors in mind. The concept behind this program is to create a mutually beneficial environment for both businesses and government buyers in order to facilitate high volume sales. Once awarded a GSA contract, the ease of use and streamlined nature in comparison to outside contract vehicles is significant.

Although you can certainly participate in government contracting bids without a GSA schedule, it may not be entirely beneficial to do so.

Many government agencies are required to make most government procurements using the GSA Schedule along with other Government-wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs). The GSA schedule program is the general starting point for government contractors who are looking to do business with the government. Government business procurement is regulated by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM). By utilizing a GSA schedule, the government can ensure that the procurement will be FAR/GSAM-compliant which will help minimize risks for all parties involved.

GSA contracts increase the productivity and capacity of scarce acquisition resources, which pushes government agencies to look at all available contract vehicles when looking to make a procurement of various sizes. With its wide variety of offerings, the GSA Multiple Award Schedule Program has become one of the government’s premiere contract vehicles. GSA Schedule contract spending in fiscal year 2018 was the highest annual total since 2015. In total, the GSA Schedules Program has averaged over $33 billion in sales (and growing).

Additionally, by holding a GSA contract, contractors reduce their competitors and compete only with other contractors that hold GSA MAS contracts. As points of differentiation are then decreased, some internal costs can decrease as well. By holding a GSA MAS contract, companies do not have to bid on as many publicly posted opportunities as they would have to otherwise. Using their GSA Schedule contract, their sales staff can close a deal in a more streamlined manner, rather than being subject to the government’s long procurement cycle.

The GSA Schedules program is often the first major federal government contract vehicle that a company entering the public sector will obtain, as many GWACs, as well as state and local contracting vehicles, require companies to use either a GSA Schedule or a GSA Schedule channel partner.

This helps reduce administrative costs and overall management for state and local governments. It also helps state and local governments do more with decreasing budgets. Some GSA Large Categories also have state and local government cooperative purchasing agreements, such as Information Technology (Large Category F) and Security and Protection (Large Category J) which allow GSA Schedule contractors to offer GSA Schedule pricing to state and local government.

The GSA Schedules program also has a “members only” government opportunity board. The opportunities posted are by government agencies specifically looking to make procurements from GSA Schedule contract holders. These opportunities are typically posted every three to seven days. Compared to the months it takes to make procurements on the open market, these GSA Schedule opportunities are very advantageous.

In addition to a GSA MAS contract, another route you can take if you do not have a GSA Schedule, is Cooperative Purchasing contracts. These contracts utilize competitively awarded pricing under a master agreement, which then gives the contractor the ability to use this pricing not only at a national level, but at a state and local level as well.

These contracts include National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) ValuePoint, The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN) and the National Cooperative Purchasing Alliance (NCPA). However, these contracts are awarded under competitive bids and do not enable you to sell directly to federal agencies. These focus on state and local agencies, higher education, and on school districts.




Yet another option to win government contracts without having your own GSA MAS contract is offering your products and/or services through a GSA channel partner, which gives you the ability to use an already awarded GSA MAS contractor’s contract vehicle. This allows you take part in the government marketplace and removes the management and compliance associated with having your own GSA MAS contract. If this route looks like a viable option, partnering with an established contractor who can provide the ability to grow and mentor your company on federal spending and procurement may be the proper route.

Although there are other contracting options out there, ultimately it is more beneficial to have a GSA Schedule to win government contracts. Not having a GSA MAS contract limits your ability to see what is in the government marketplace and immediately puts you at disadvantage when trying to capture government spend.

With a GSA MAS contract and all the opportunities that will come alongside its award, the ultimate goal now is to sell, sell, sell. After your contract is awarded, you’ll want to take steps toward putting your company name out there and marketing in a way that will capture as much public sector business as possible.

Upon award of a GSA MAS contract, you’ll receive access to platforms such as GSA eLibrary, GSA Advantage!®, GSA eBuy, and many others. The first step in putting your company at the forefront of the crop of GSA contractors is to upload your GSA pricelist to eLibrary with advertising language and design that will make you stand out in the crowd.  Each GSA contractor is required to upload their pricelist to eLibrary with terms and conditions, but that’s just the bare minimum. An eLibrary pricelist redesign can make a world of difference for a company in terms of winning bids in the federal marketplace. In addition to presenting the company as more professional, it helps buyers view your company as proactive and more invested in the success of your public sector business.

Additionally, marketing the GSA MAS contract on your company’s website can be a huge benefit. Each GSA contract is assigned a unique contract number that is your own. Winvale recommends promoting your contract number wherever possible to be as visible to government buyers as possible, whether it be on your website, in an email signature, or even on a business card.

Leveraging a GSA MAS contract can be a powerful tool for networking as well. GSA will only award contracts to companies that the organization views as responsible, suitable business partners. Having a contract awarded is an accomplishment in and of itself and should be highlighted as a unique aspect of your company’s ability to enter directly into contracts and Blanket Purchasing Agreements with government agencies.

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Additional Training & Support

Choosing a GSA Schedule Consultant

How do you know if you should start looking for a GSA consultant?

At first glance, the requirements for a GSA Multiple Awards Schedule (MAS) Program can seem long, tedious, and confusing. Interested parties need to spend a great deal of time and put in quite a bit of effort just to understand the necessities for a GSA proposal to be awarded. Even after the effort and hours are put into the proposal, it may be rejected for one reason or another.

Likewise, if your proposal is in fact awarded, GSA’s regulations for keeping a Schedule contract in compliance can be difficult to understand at times. Not understanding what is needed to keep your GSA MAS contract within compliance could lead to the contract being cancelled. This means all previous effort and time put into awarding the GSA proposal has been put to waste.

GSA Schedule consultant can be a valuable asset to invest in. Not only do they understand the nuances of the GSA MAS Program, but they also have a firm understanding of the trends within the government contracting sphere. Along with being experts on the GSA proposal process, a GSA Schedule consultant can also assist with the ever-changing requests from your reviewing GSA Contracting Officers. No two situations or companies are ever the same, so a GSA Schedule consultant has encountered a wide-array of both stressful situations and complex requests following the submission of GSA proposals. Your GSA Schedule consultant will assist you through any clarifications the GSA Contracting Officer may have, negotiations with the GSA, and the preparation of the award documents for your GSA proposal.

Following the award of your GSA Schedule contract, there’s still quite a bit of work to be done to guarantee your GSA experience is met with success. Ensuring and maintaining your contract so that it will remain in compliance with both the terms and conditions specific to your contract, and then the overarching housekeeping tasks of a GSA Schedule contract are vital. From dealing with Sales Reporting to the Schedules Input Program, the chances that a small business has the bandwidth to handle all of these housekeeping tasks in-house are fairly slim, so this is where a GSA Schedule consultant can step in to assist. As a GSA Schedule consultant, we’re there to help and assist you with all your GSA MAS contract needs so that both your contract and your business can grow.

There are a lot of companies that offer GSA consulting, training, etc. How do you know how to pick the right one?

When choosing a company that offers GSA consulting services, it can be a difficult process to sort through everyone in order to choose the right one for your company. To start off, there can be several red flags to note while looking at organizations that offer GSA consulting services:

  • Organizations that guarantee a turnaround of a few weeks or even guarantee government business
  • Organizations that promise work-arounds to a GSA proposal’s core requirements. Generally, these core requirements, such as Financial Statements, cannot be avoided in your GSA proposal.

To avoid these red flags, it may be beneficial to ask organizations some of the following questions: “What kind of financial information and corporate representations and certifications am I required to make?” and/or “How do you interpret typically commercial sales data (policies and practices) and corporate disclosures?” These types of questions will assist in showing you an organization’s experience and their expertise on some of the more difficult areas of a GSA proposal.

Looking for a GSA Schedule Consultant you can trust?

Winvale brings a wealth of real-world experience to GSA Schedule consulting that no other firm in the marketplace can provide. We're an organization comprised of government procurement and sales experts dedicated to our clients growth and compliance within the marketplace. We also hold our own GSA Schedules, and have vast experience facilitating Federal, State and Local government procurements.

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Vendor Resources & Support

What resources or support do you have access to?

There are several helpful resources that both prospective GSA vendors and current GSA vendors may consult and use to their advantage. Two great resources for both market research as well as competitor research are GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage!®.

GSA eLibrary is an online source that offers all the latest contract award information for GSA Schedule holders. Along with GSA Schedules, you’re also able to search Department of Veterans Affairs Schedules and Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts by using GSA eLibrary’s various search options. GSA eLibrary also offers its users the ability to search through all of the Special Items Numbers (SINS) or sub-categories to the various Large Categories. You may also research how many competitors or other vendors are awarded under each of the Special Item Numbers as well.

GSA Advantage!®, on the other hand, can best be described as the GSA’s Amazon. GSA Advantage!® is an online shopping and ordering system that provides access to thousands of vendors and millions of products and services. This type of website allows ordering agency employees the ability to search for the products or services that they’re interested in and to search for the very best prices. It also allows them to purchase through GSA Advantage!® by using a governmentwide commercial purchase card, a GSA Activity Address Code, and a Department of Defense Activity Address Code. It is also important to note that State and Local Governments are also now capable of purchasing through GSA Advantage!® under the Cooperative Purchasing Program, as well as the Disaster Recovery Purchasing Program, by using their government issued credit cards.

GSA Vendor Support Center

Another useful resource and source of great information is the Vendor Support Center or the VSC. The VSC’s website is an online source for vendors to research the federal market, report sales, and upload information into GSA Advantage!® The VSC can help you as you prepare to enter the federal marketplace. Additionally, the website contains a wide array of information for both potential and current contractors to maximize their success.

Online Forums & Websites

Likewise, GSA offers current vendors several websites that may assist in addressing any questions or concerns that they may have. A great resource to use for all of your government acquisition questions is Acquisition Gateway. Acquisition Gateway strives to help federal government buyers as well as acquisition professionals connect using resources, tools and a peer network to improve government acquisition as a whole. It’s important to keep in mind that Acquisition Gateway is more centered on all government acquisition and focuses heavily at the task order level more so than the contract level.

A similar website to Acquisition Gateway, but more GSA Schedule contract-centric, is GSA Interact. Anyone can create an account and receive daily, weekly, or monthly email notifications of any and all GSA updates. Likewise, you’re able to connect and engage with a wide array of either GSA vendors or GSA officials on a multitude of GSA topics. Overall, the goal of GSA interact is to increase the government’s effectiveness through better communication and collaboration.


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Acquiring a GSA MAS contract doesn’t guarantee government sales, but it can be a valuable contract vehicle for businesses to tap into the federal market and amplify their sales. Evaluating costs, benefits, and opportunities is a vital step in considering whether a GSA MAS contract is right for you.

GSA MAS contracts require significant upkeep and attention, both in keeping your contract current and in actively marketing your products or services to generate sales. Many companies find this process daunting, which is where a GSA Schedule consultant can alleviate some of the administrative burden of maintaining a contract. Winvale has been helping companies acquire and maintain GSA MAS contracts for more than 15 years and has worked on nearly every Large Category.

Our consultants can help you determine the market opportunity for your business, research your competitors’ sales, and guide you through the entire process. As a holder of a MAS contract itself, Winvale is a unique strategic partner for many firms in terms of contract optimization and maximization of profitability.

Receive Full-Circle GSA Schedule Assistance

Winvale provides a level of GSA Schedule assistance that no other GSA consultant can. As both a government contractor and consultant, we’ve got you covered! If you want to get on a GSA Schedule, or you’re already on one, we can help.