CategoriesGovernment Contracting 101

GSA Schedule – The Basics

U.S.-based businesses have many government contracting options to explore across various domains, including federal, state, local, and tribal. Of course, the Federal Government represents the largest of these domains, given that it’s the world’s largest procurer of goods and services. Furthermore, there are numerous agencies within the Federal Government to contract with, one of the largest being the General Services Administration, or GSA.

What is the GSA?

The GSA is a federal agency that facilitates government-wide contracting. Essentially, they centralize the contracting requirements and deliverables for many federal government agencies. GSA accomplishes this via the Public Building Service (PBS) and the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). The Public Building Service is often referred to as the landlord of the government. All federal real estate assets are managed through the PBS. On the other hand, the FAS facilitates the acquisition of goods and services.

What are GSA Schedules?

GSA Schedules are long-term contracts under the GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. A GSA Schedule contract is a time-bound agreement between the federal government and a contractor or an association of vendors. 

The objective of the GSA Schedule program is to simplify acquisition processes to ensure that each designated federal department or agency gets requisite goods and services delivered as per the preset terms. The program provides certainty for the federal government and all its departments that essential goods and services are always available. It’s also designed to ensure acquisitions are executed at fair and reasonable prices. 

List of GSA Schedules

GSA Schedules are not about one-time acquisitions. The deliverables, as decided and agreed upon at the outset, are sequenced over a period of time. Some GSA Schedules may span several years. Currently, there are more than thirty distinct Federal Supply Schedules. 

The most significant Federal Supply Schedules are:

  • financial services
  • professional engineering services
  • travel services
  • logistics
  • information technology, including equipment, software, and services
  • transportation, delivery, and relocation
  • hardware supply
  • office administration, including documents management and imaging
  • professional services
  • scientific equipment and services
  • human capital management
  • office supplies
  • furniture supply and management
  • law enforcement and disaster management, including emergency response
  • facilities management and maintenance
  • automobiles and automotive supplies
  • shipping and packaging, including supplies
  • temporary staffing
  • food services and hospitality
  • buildings, including the procurement of materials

There are many other Federal Supply Schedules. The GSA Schedules program complies with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). All federal government departments and every eligible contractor must adhere to the FAR to uphold competition requirements, labor laws, socioeconomic requirements, federal trade agreement prerequisites, and other compliance standards. 

GSA Schedule Contract Eligibility

Only eligible businesses can participate in GSA Schedules. The GSA has stipulated minimum requirements for eligibility. The general eligibility criteria for a GSA contract include a minimum of two years in business with financial statements for the same period, measurable and verifiable past performance, and compliance with the Trade Agreement Act, Service Contract Act, and Buy American Act. A business must also be able to abide by current wage rates, approved ordering processes, and required administrative and reporting procedures. 

GSA Schedule Contract Benefits

Relative to other kinds of government contracts, a GSA Schedule Contract can be more lucrative due to the following factors:

  • Federal Supply Schedules are rarely for a short period of time. A typical GSA contract spans months, often years. This provides medium to long-term orders for a business. Hence, a GSA Schedule contract can facilitate business viability and financial sustainability for the contractor. 
  • Only those part of a Federal Supply Schedule can bid for a GSA contract. This implies that you will be competing with businesses like yours, which are already schedule holders. This means that the chances of an unknown contractor outbidding everyone are considerably less. 
  • As a contractor participating in the GSA Schedules Program, you can access many opportunities relevant to your business. You can expand your portfolio as your eligibility permits. There is ample scope for expansion and growth for ambitious enterprises.
  • The GSA Schedules Program represents an additional avenue for expansion and growth for firms already faring well in government contracting or the private sector. 
  • GSA contract management is quite stringent. While GSA vendor support exists, the steep compliance and regulatory requirements can test a contractor’s mettle. As a result, most businesses witness a transformative enhancement in the efficiency and efficacy of their routine operations. 

GSA Schedule Contract Challenges

All business deals have their fair share of benefits and challenges. As such, the GSA Schedules Program, and more broadly, government contracting, is not always an ideal pursuit. Companies must weigh the benefits against the challenges likely to be encountered.

  • Eligibility is a significant hindrance. The number of years in business and financial statements are only a part of the process. Particular GSA contracts may require relevant certifications, which may be costly and time-consuming to obtain. These certifications are typically required for compliance to maintain an acceptable quality of goods or services. 
  • The GSA Schedules Program necessitates various administrative formalities. For instance, firms must prove their past performance. Most contractors do so using the Dun and Bradstreet Open Ratings system. A GSA contract also requires proof of cash flow. Financially unstable businesses, such as those deemed at risk of bankruptcy, are not eligible for the Federal Supply Schedules. 
  • GSA contract management is a considerable commitment. Contractors must deliver as per the terms of the contract and remain in compliance with universal standards for ordering, delivering, administration, and reporting. GSA contract management can be arduous for firms unprepared to deal with the additional administrative burden. 

GSA Schedule contracts are awarded to the best bidder. Every new opportunity must be won. 


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