In my entry last week I talked about how to get your business registered to work with the Federal government – what forms you need to fill out, registration numbers you need to get, I’s to dot, T’s to cross, etc.
Once those things are done, there are only two more things you’ll need to get to know to get your first government contract: GSA and FedBizOpps.
The GSA Schedule Program
The U.S. General Services Administration runs the GSA Schedule Program. This is a way to provide centralized procurement for the Federal government. Under the GSA Schedules (also referred to as Multiple Award Schedules and Federal Supply Schedules) Program, GSA establishes long-term contracts with commercial companies so it can then provide access to these commercial supplies and products to government agencies.
So, you establish a GSA contract, and GSA connects you with agencies that need your products and services. In theory, the program serves a vetting process – companies that want to do business with the government get their products and services onto the GSA Schedule, which then provides a place where government agencies can go to ensure they’re buying the best quality products and services at the best prices.
While this may or may not actually be the case, the bottom line is that getting onto the GSA Schedule is the lowest cost of entry into the Federal government for any business – particular small businesses.
“The GSA Schedule is designed in part to help small businesses compete head-to-head on a level playing field for government business,” says Bill Gormley, president of Washington Management Group. Mr. Gormley was formerly Assistant Commissioner at GSA, and helped design and build what is today’s GSA Schedule Program. Today, he helps businesses – like yours – get onto the GSA Schedule and better understand the ins and outs of doing business with the government.
Once you establish a GSA Schedule contract, you may find that it provides additional advantages outside the government market. A GSA Schedule Contract number demonstrates that you’re trustworthy to do business with. It’s like a seal of approval from the government; it says a lot.
Imagine entering a brand new market and starting out with a solid list of leads – of people actually looking for the products and services you offer. That is the beauty of Federal Business Opportunities, or FedBizOpps.
All Federal contract solicitations with a value of $25,000 or more are listed on FedBizOpps. Federal agencies publish their solicitations, and provide detailed information on how and when vendors should respond. You do not need to register or sign-up to use FedBizOpps – you can simply go and look around.
There is obviously a lot more information you can gather about doing business with the government. Business.gov, for example, provides information on:
- labor and employment laws as they apply to Federal contractors
- teaming and subcontracting opportunities
- Federal acquisitions regulations and standards
Companies that specialize in government contracting, such as the Washington Management Group, are excellent resources as well.
And, conveniently, this is an excellent time to start the process. With a new administration on the way, “transition teams” will be looking for a range of products and services to put in place for the new leadership.