The government buys a lot of stuff. Take paper clips, for example. It takes a lot of paper clips to manage a country of this size. So rather than go through a competition of every retailer who provides paper clips, the government created the GSA (General Services Administration) to manage the acquisition of their resources.
This way, retailers (paper clip and otherwise) don’t have to re-compete every time. Instead, GSA issues contracts, called GSA Schedules, also known as Multiple Award Schedules or MAS, so that government agencies can have assured price competition for commodity items, for example, office supplies.
So instead of shopping out of the Staples or Office Depot catalog, or maybe a local company in their town, each government agency can order their supplies right off the GSA Schedule and feel confident that a maximum discount was already negotiated by GSA.
Of course it’s not just about office supplies. There is a GSA schedule for IT, one for engineering labor, another for management consulting, etc. What if you want a mug that says, “Department of Homeland Security”? Or you want to get your carpets cleaned? What about advertising, or training? There are GSA Schedules that deal with all of these, along with professional services like accountants and lawyers.
If a government contracting office is placing a large order (a specific amount that varies based on the product or service), every contractor who holds a GSA Schedule will be notified so they can send in a proposal.
The GSA Schedule is a vehicle that allows you to do business with the government in your chosen field. Once you find the appropriate GSA Schedule and define your pricing schedule, then whenever the government needs your service they’ll send out a request for proposal and you can respond.
You won’t be the only one, though. You can be sure that other companies are also responding. It doesn’t mean you can’t beat them and get the work, but keep in mind that you’ll have a much better chance when you already have an existing relationship with the customer.
GSA Schedules are ideal because you don’t need to compete to win the schedule; you simply pass through an application process (assuming you’ve already registered your business) and as long as you meet the requirements, you’re in! The GSA is not going to reject you because your prices are higher, or even because the quality of your work is lower. The GSA won’t reject you for those things, but prospective customers may!
Holding a GSA Schedule is the only way to get one contract that’s immediately applicable across the country. This could be a huge benefit to you in your business.