How to Gain Government Customers

The Homeland Security initiative has allocated more money that ever to fund government security installations. General Services Administration (GSA) schedule contracts can provide your business with a piece of the action, regardless of your company’s size.

As the spotlight across our nation continues to focus on Homeland Security, there is equal opportunity for local, regional and national security dealers and integrators to do business with the U.S. government under the new General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule Contract 539 Solutions and More (SAM).

A GSA schedule contract is the best vehicle to open the door to government business opportunities. Schedule 539 SAM offers government customers a “total solution for security.” Vendors awarded under Schedule 539 SAM are the preferred source of suppliers to government agencies for Homeland Security.

Let’s take a look at exactly what a GSA schedule contract is all about and how and why you should get involved.

Grab a Piece of the Giant Pie

The U.S. government is the largest purchaser of products and services in the world. The budget for Homeland Security is still being planned, and we would all like a piece of it.

The 539 SAM GSA schedule contract includes law enforcement and security products and services and is administrated by the GSA General Products Center in Ft. Worth, Texas. Under GSA Schedule 539, SAM vendors can offer security products as well as the services to design, install and maintain security systems. Professional services, such as project management, design, and engineering and risk management, are also offered.

What Is GSA?

The GSA is the federal government’s purchasing agent. One of three central management agencies for the entire federal government (along with the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Personnel Management), GSA provides workspace, security, furniture, equipment, supplies, tools, computers and telephones.

GSA reports are catalysts for nearly $66 billion in federal spending—more than one-fourth of the government’s total procurement dollars. The GSA influences the management of federal assets valued at nearly $500 billion.

Schedule Contracts Explained

A GSA schedule contract is a multiple-award contract for commercial, off-the-shelf products based on standard commercial discounts and policies. It was created to streamline the buying process for government agencies. A change to the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) allows agencies to use this method rather than the time-consuming and costly process of going out to bid.

Per FAR 8.404, agencies are required to review three GSA schedule contractor pricing and/or proposals and/or view GSA’s contractor data on GSA Advantage!—a Web site that lists all GSA schedule contract-holders.

The government agency can then make an award based on “best value.” There are numerous factors when considering “best value,” such as pricing, delivery, past performance, warranty, life of the product and compatibility, to name a few. There are also considerations for disadvantaged, small, woman-owned, Hub Zone and veteran-owned businesses under GSA’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Small Business Administration.

Competing With the Big Boys

How can local and regional dealers compete with the big government contractors? Schedule 539 SAM is the way to make this happen!

Do not be discouraged by tales of bureaucracy, confusing paperwork and rumors of not getting paid when doing business with the government. Recent changes to

Schedule 539 SAM has multiple listings of manufacturers, suppliers, integrators and “authorized GSA dealers.” The contracts are awarded for a period of five years, with three five-year options to renew. Many security manufacturers have already been awarded GSA schedule contracts.

Can a Dealer Hold a Contract?

YES! Awards are made direct to manufacturers, manufacturers with authorized dealers, or to integrators and dealers. Under GSA’s new “total solution for security” contract, services and leasing have been added to the contract. Now the government customer can fulfill all of their security requirements by using Schedule 539 SAM.

Ancillary services under the GSA schedule cover site surveys, consulting, design, monitoring, installation, maintenance, repair and training at a firm fixed price. Professional services offer project management, risk analysis and engineering at hourly rates. Guard services have also been added to this contract.

Holding Up Your End

What are some of the key requirements to be taken into consideration when contemplating a submission or participation on a GSA schedule contract?

Products must be delivered FOB destination in accordance with the specified delivery time. In addition, vendors must accept government credit cards; maintain the discount relationship established between the government and the contractor at the time of the award; pay a 1-percent “industrial funding fee” to GSA; and maintain a system for tracking orders and reporting sales to GSA quarterly. Also, records must be available for examination for three years after the contract has ended.

What Are the Benefits?

A new customer base that is reliable, pays quickly and provides repeat business. Again, GSA contract eliminates the red tape and is a streamlined procurement vehicle that avoids the costly formal bidding process.

A GSA schedule contract can allow your company to be a source of supply to government agencies for Homeland Security. Regardless of the size and status of your company, the new GSA rules level the playing field and the GSA “total security solution program” provides the vehicle and formula for success.

Lynn de Seve is president and founder of GSA Schedules Inc., a government contract consulting company located in Bowie, Md. She can be contacted at (301) 805-1300 or [email protected].

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