Getting Your GSA Business on Schedule
Despite robust opportunity at the federal, state and local level, the government sector remains a highly procedural market requiring the utmost in professionalism. With the necessary skillsets and business acument, systems integrators can participate and profit as a direct provider or subcontractor.
Performance Expectations Are High
An experienced and well-trained team will be needed to perform installation services as well as the contract administration associated to support the GSA procurement activity. Hence, strong back-office procedures are essential to processing the work and most important, getting paid.
GSA will ask you to provide a company profile, detailed information on your staff and their experience, plus information on company benefits and capabilities. GSA also requires contractors to list specific examples of work completed with dates of performance, dollar value and points of contact for confirmation of work previously performed.
This work must have been completed in the past few years. If you wish to offer the security convergence SINs, the examples will need to consist of high-end systems. Offering high-end services under the GSA contract is not for the beginner as the contractor must justify consistent performance – not start-up experience.
Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD 12) requirements continue to be present in many government opportunities. Some companies have added to their qualification capabilities by being approved as an HSPD 12 integrator for installing the required qualified equipment.
Additionally, integrators may want to consider offering a listing of incidental items typically used to complete an installation. While this article does not elaborate on all of the specific procurement rules governing GSA contracts, note that any item offered in a solution not listed on the GSA contract can jeopardize the GSA buy.
Open market items (not on the GSA contract) valued less than the micro-purchase threshold of $3,000 are often acceptable as part of the order. However, above that amount requires additional justification by procurement personnel. They may or may not be willing to go to that effort. So, consider offering items such as conduit, connectors, wire, door strikes, etc., under SIN 246-60(4) for Schedule 84. Or, for example, Schedule 03FAC (Facilities, Maintenance and Management) can be utilized as another factor in your game plan.
In summary, despite the current economic challenges for installing security contractors, opportunities do exist with federal, state and local government agencies. Integrators with a qualified team and a strategic solution for melding their product and service capabilities with the government requirements will have the greatest success.
Staying in the game takes a serious commitment, but using the GSA program will allow integrators to grow their business by offering not only the latest technology but also providing a total solution under the guidelines of the GSA Schedule.
Lynn de Seve is president and founder of Annapolis, Md.-based GSA Schedules Inc., with more than 25 years of experience in GSA contract support services. She can be contacted at (301) 805-1300.
Surfing the Latest Online Contract Award Information
Qualified installing security contractors interested in pursuing work in the government sector will need to become familiar with GSA eLibrary, an online source that provides the latest GSA contract award information.
Here both government agencies and integrators can view all of the GSA contracts applicable for security products and related services. Also included are the specific categories for those products and services, which are referred to as Special Item Numbers (SINs). The SINs define the products and services available under the GSA contracts.
A search engine allows users to type in keywords, contract numbers, contractor names and SINs to locate who is listed under these programs or categories. Having proper coverage under the SINs allows the contractor to read the Request for Quotes (RFQs) posted on GSA eBuy, which government buyers use to request information, find sources and complete other tasks.
An agency seeking a security solution is able to select an integrator if they are listed under the category of products or services they are seeking. For example, if the agency is looking for video surveillance, they would typically search under SIN 246-42(1) and find a complete listing of contractors with all pertinent contact information.
GSA Advantage! lists all of the items and services that have been awarded under all GSA contracts. It is a mandatory requirement for contractors to list their items after award. You can link directly to GSA Advantage! and again choose keywords, contractor names and part numbers to check pricing and search for information.
Agencies use GSA eLibrary to see what companies offer under the GSA program. End-user customers can type the company name in the search engine and then link to the contractor’s page that posts their pertinent information. From there, agencies can pull up a contractor’s terms and conditions and link to their equipment parts in GSA Advantage. Agencies can actually place credit card orders for box sales through this Web site.
From the GSA eLibrary Web site, contractors can also review the various schedule contract types (click on “View schedule contracts”) relevant to the electronic security. Linking to Schedule 84, 70 and 03FAC will allow you to see a listing of all available SINs that apply to security integrators.
For example, Schedule 84 offers the total solution for security with SINs for intrusion, perimeter security, video surveillance, fire, access control, locking devices, alarm and signal systems. Included are all services to support the products, including the new security convergence services.
Schedule 70 offers IT and networking products and services. Schedule 03FAC is the Facilities Maintenance and Management contract. Schedule 84 and Schedule 70 have coverage with state and local agencies.
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