By Richard Speights, PTAC Counselor at UNC-Charlotte
GSA (General Services Administration) provides centralized procurement for the federal government, offering billions of dollars’ worth of products, services, and facilities that federal agencies need to accomplish their mission of public service. GSA’s acquisition solutions supply federal agencies with cost-effective high-quality products and services from commercial vendors. GSA helps federal agencies build and acquire office space, products and other workspace services, and oversees the preservation of historic federal properties. Its policies covering travel, property and management practices promote efficient government operations.
As the federal government’s purchasing agent, GSA connects federal contracting professionals with the most cost-effective and high-quality commercial products and services. Through GSA Schedules, federal agencies are able to access more than 12 million commercial supplies and services, meet their small business goals and ensure compliance with environmental and socioeconomic laws and regulations.
GSA schedules are long-term government wide contracts with commercial firms to provide access to millions of commercial products and services at volume discount pricing. The goods and services can be ordered directly using GSA’s online ordering systems, eBuy or GSAAdvantage!®. When awarded the contracts are a hybrid contract type known as Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ). The contracts have a five-year base period with up to three five year option periods, making the potential contracting period twenty years.
A major advantage to suppliers when GSA Schedules are used is competition requirements are greatly reduced. The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) states that orders and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) placed against GSA Schedules are considered to meet full and open competition as long as proper ordering procedures are followed. An acquisition is considered to have been conducted under adequately competitive procedures when ordering activities follow the ordering procedures of FAR Subpart 8.4, Federal Supply Schedules. Thus, ordering activities:
- Shall not seek further competition outside the Schedules program
- Shall not synopsize the award in FBO (exception: orders or BPAs supported by a limited-source justification in accordance with FAR 8.405-6)
- Shall seek price reductions for orders exceeding the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT)
- With some exceptions, need not make a separate determination of fair and reasonable pricing
Companies interested in being awarded a GSA Schedule contract should visit GSA Schedule Vendor Support Center (https://vsc.gsa.gov/) to learn more about GSA Schedules and complete a “Readiness Assessment” to determine if getting on a
schedule is the right decision for their company. While the potential rewards are great, getting on a schedule is a monumental task and the time period from submitting an offer to receive a contract and the actual reward of the contract may be in excess of 6 months. Procurement Technical Counselors are available at the NC PTAC to assist your company with pursuing and performing on GSA contracts.