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The Information Technology goods requiring GSA Schedules include hardware, peripherals, and network devices. Software such as mainframe, personal computer (PC), utility programs, and applications are also subject to GSA requirements. Services impacted by GSA requirements include programming, system design, disaster recovery, Internet, web, and e-commerce services and solutions. Telecommunications products such as facsimile machines, telephones, and switches are also subject to GSA Schedule requirements, as are a wide range of office equipment, including copiers. Video equipment, public relations, media services, and video production are also available on GSA Schedule.

§ What is a GSA Schedule?


General information on GSA Schedules

Technically speaking, GSA Schedules are long-term Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contracts that are awarded to multiple contractors for various commercial products and services. Simply put however, GSA Schedules are catalogs from which federal and other authorized users can place orders. As far as authorized users are concerned, GSA Schedules are the Sharper Image, Patagonia, Lands End, and LL Bean of the federal world all rolled into one.

GSA negotiates and awards the contracts initially, but after the Schedule contract is awarded, all other authorized users can purchase from the Schedules by issuing task or delivery orders to the contractor of their choice. GSA covers its costs for negotiating, awarding, and administering the contracts by adding a small percentage (currently .75%) to the final cost of the products or services listed on the contract. This charge, or Industrial Funding Fee as it is better known, is paid to the Schedule contractors by the authorized user and then passed back to GSA by the Schedule contractors.

From the authorized users perspective, a Schedule provides a quick and relatively easy way to purchase its needs without the hassles and headaches associated with some of the more burdensome and complex procurement regulations. An authorized user buying off a Schedule does not have to advertise its needs, seek further competition, or make independent determinations of fair and reasonable pricing. Furthermore, authorized users can review Schedules on-line and buy on-line through the GSA Advantage! online shopping and ordering system.

From the contractor’s perspective, a Schedule is the entry ticket to the federal marketplace. It gives you an easy way to sell. If you don’t have a Schedule it’s harder for authorized users to buy from you. But a Schedule is just a hunting license, not a guarantee of doing business with the federal government.

A GSA Schedule is also beneficial from the contractor’s perspective because a GSA Schedule contract can remain in place for up to 20 years under the Evergreen clause found in most Schedule solicitations. Essentially, each GSA Schedule contract consists of a basic five-year contract period and three five-year options for a total of 20 years.

Products and Services on GSA Schedules

GSA Schedules cover goods ranging from paint, bathroom cleansers, and furniture to mainframes and telemetry systems. Covered services range from copying and mailing services to consulting, professional engineering, and even legal services.

The various goods and services are divided into different numbered Schedules. For example, Group 36 covers photocopiers related products and services; Group 58 is for audio and video products; Group 653 is for relocation services. There are over 60 different Schedule groups and there is some overlap between the different groups. GSA’s website at http://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/ElibHome contains an excellent search engine that will help you determine if your company’s products or services are sold on Schedule, and if so, which one is right for your company.

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§ Why do I need one?


It is the Single Most Efficient Way to Do Business with the Federal Government

Having a GSA Schedule is the most efficient way to do business with the federal government. A Schedule provides a quick and relatively easy way to purchase its needs without the hassles and headaches associated with some of the more burdensome and complex procurement regulations. An authorized user buying off a Schedule does not have to advertise or synopsize its needs, seek further competition, or make independent determinations of fair and reasonable pricing. Furthermore, authorized users can review Schedules on-line and buy on-line through the GSA Advantage! online shopping and ordering system.

Given the relative ease of GSA Schedules, most federal purchasing agents are loathe to issue a full blown Request for Proposals. This is increasingly true as the federal government continues to make cut backs in its purchasing departments and existing resources are stretched to their limits. As each year passes, not having a GSA Schedule makes less and less sense.

Opens the Doors To State and Local Procurements

Having a GSA Schedule also opens the door to doing business with certain states. To establish standing contract vehicles, states are increasingly trying to “piggyback” on GSA Schedule contracts. A leader in this area was California with its California Multiple Award Schedule (“CMAS”) contract, which takes a vendor’s GSA Schedule contract, adds a layer of California terms and conditions, and gives the contractor the opportunity to sell its commercial items to California state and local government agencies. This is no small market; if California were a free-standing, sovereign country, it would have the fifth largest Gross Domestic Product in the world. Other states going the piggyback Schedule route include Texas, Louisiana, and Ohio.

Some states, such as New York, do not have a true MAS contract program like California and Texas. New York instead often use prices found in other competitively negotiated contracts. This is done on a procurement-by-procurement basis, and apparently these contracts are not available for use by other New York agencies on a regular basis. As the example of New York suggests, it is common practice for state governments to ask if a vendor has a competitively priced contract for the items solicited, and the easiest, neatest example is a GSA Schedule contract. States are free to use the GSA Schedule contract as a comparison or ceiling price on the state procurement and often do so. Moreover, GSA rarely looks at an offeror’s pricing to state governments when negotiating a fair and reasonable GSA Schedule contract price, so it is not uncommon for a state to insist on a price equal to or lower than the benchmark GSA Schedule contract price.

Provides an Alternate Source of Income

After 9/11, many commercial vendors found that revenue from the commercial marketplace had trickled down significantly or even dried up altogether. The federal government, on the other hand, increased its spending to meet new safety and security mandates and those with Schedules in place were there to scoop up the profits. The old adage is true — don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

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§ How do I get one?


First you have to figure out where your products or services belong. The General Service Administration’s Schedule E-library website at http://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/ElibHome contains an excellent search engine that will help you determine if your products or services are sold on Schedule, and if so, which one.

Next you have to obtain a copy of the solicitation pertaining to the Schedule you want to get on. Copies of the relevant solicitation can be downloaded from the federal government point-of-entry for federal government procurement opportunities at www.fedbizopps.gov. GSA’s Schedule E-library website also provides links to the various Schedule solicitations.

You should read the solicitation very carefully as the terms and conditions set forth in the solicitation will become the terms and conditions of your Schedule contract. While the terms are not particularly egregious there are certain administrative burdens associated with doing business with the government and you need to be aware of these issues before entering into a contract with the federal government.

You need to be careful and make sure that all relevant sections of the solicitation are completed and pertinent information is submitted. Failure to complete all sections will not necessarily lead to rejection of the proposal but will significantly increase the speed at which the proposal process will move along. Currently, and depending on the group to which the proposal is submitted, it is taking GSA anywhere from three to nine months to review, negotiate, and award a GSA Schedule contract.

GSA Solicitations are open season solicitations and thus there is no due date for submitting a proposal.

How Can Cohen Mohr Help Me Get a GSA Schedule?

Cohen Mohr can give as little or as much help as you need with respect to preparing and negotiating a GSA Schedule. The extent of our involvement is up to you. Services we provide include:

  • Review of the products or services your company provides in order to identify the appropriate schedule;
  • preparation of an easy to follow “To Do” list that highlights and explains the areas of the lengthy solicitation document that need to be addressed;
  • conduct interviews to ensure full and accurate disclosure of your company’s Commercial Sales Practices – the heart and soul of the GSA proposal;
  • Apply GSA pricing requirements to your company’s Commercial Sales Practices;
  • prepare or review Letters of Supply with manufacturers or dealers as necessary;
  • prepare or review Reseller Agreements as necessary;
  • prepare a Small Business Subcontracting Plan as required for large businesses;
  • prepare a memorandum highlighting the legal ramifications and compliance issues associated with entering into a contract with the federal government;
  • prepare and review the terms and conditions of the Authorized GSA Schedule Price List;
  • assist with the Final Proposal Revision.

Why Should I Use Cohen Mohr and Not a GSA Schedule Shop?

A GSA Schedule is a contract with the federal government which raises many compliance issues that don’t occur in the private sector. Cohen Mohr is a law firm and understands the legal implications associated with contracting with the federal government and can adequately apprise you BEFORE you enter into the contract. GSA Schedules are not for everyone. We don’t simply have you check off boxes and fill out forms, we explain what the boxes and forms mean and how they can affect your commercial business. GSA Schedule Shops can’t do that. Cohen Mohr can also help you with any compliance issues that arise after performance such as audits and OFPP reviews. We can explain the law to you, and can represent you in the case of legal action. GSA Schedule Shops can’t do that.

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