How to Bust Through Bureaucracy and Win Government Security Contracts
Government contracting requires preparation, skill and perseverance. As a security integrator after government business, the latter two factors are up to you. For the rest, you’ve come to the right place.
Learning the Listings
Always a topic for security contractors, particularly integrators, is choosing the GSA Schedule Program most appropriate for the products and services to offer. This can be confusing as there exists considerable overlap. This is a multiple award program so identical listings exist at different prices sometimes on different GSA Schedules.
A key question for an integrator to consider would be whether a particular supplier (brand) already has the identical items on a GSA Contract. Do the items or services reside on another integrator’s GSA Contract or on a supplier/manufacturer GSA Contract?
A supplier/manufacturer GSA Contract may be structured with GSA Authorized Resellers or as GSA references “Participating Dealers.” If a manufacturer does agree to allow a dealer/integrator to include the supplier’s products on the dealer/integrator GSA offering, a “Letter of Supply” is needed.
Also, companies will want to consider if the items qualify technically or for a listing on the government’s Approved Products List for Physical Access Control Systems (PACS). These items have some unique requirements per idmanagement.gov and must be tested prior to listing them.
Similarly, integrators wishing to install PACS must complete a training program and be certified under the program in order to be approved on the GSA Contract. There are listings available on both GSA Schedule 84 (Security and Law Enforcement) and GSA Schedule 70 (IT).
Refer to SIN 246 35 7 for GSA APL products and SIN 246 60 5 for services for PACS, and get more information on 84 at gsa.gov/firesecurity. A total solution is offered under this program for security, fire, building controls, guard services as well as installation, professional services and training.
For Schedule 70, PACS is listed under SIN 132-62 for products and installation services and 132-60 A-F for professional services for HSPD-12 and Information Technology. GSA has enhanced awareness and offered instruction on the use of the MAS Program through social media like GSA Interact (interact.gsa.gov).
GSA with guidance for the Security Hallway from DHS has built the Acquisition Gateway to provide resources to federal agencies on a new platform. The Acquisition Gateway has a portal (gsa.gov/portal/category/107699) for federal agencies to access best practices, new technical requirements and other helpful procurement info on the various government contracting vehicles available.
Recently, GSA opened that site for public access and there is direction for contractors to log in. If your agency customer needs more support, there is help through GSA’s business development team FAS Customer and Stakeholder Engagement (CASE) at gsa.gov/portal/category/21306. The GSA program (eoffer.gsa.gov) has many benefits.
Ironing Out Wrinkles
There are a couple of wrinkles in the processes but GSA appears to be working toward resolution of most issues. One issue of concern that continues to cause confusion is the false conclusion that GSA APL products and certified HSPD-12 service providers are only available from Schedule 70.
GSA Schedule 84 also offers both the PACS products listed on the GSA APL specifically under SIN 246 35 7 and SIN 246 60-5 for integrators with the CSEIP certification for services. There are concerns around possible changes under the new administration to policies regarding the source of products and restrictions for domestic purchase.
Manufacturers and integrators have also been troubled by pricing evaluation issues caused by Letters of Supply from unauthorized sources for identical items under the GSA contract. Identical items with noncompetitive prices are a cause for rejections when updating pricing or submitting new items to GSA.
Unauthorized Letters of Supply combined with out of date or conflicting price comparisons are troubling to manufacturers in particular. GSA is working on many processes and changes that should enhance opportunities and improve sales. The Schedule 84 program is proposing to improve the descriptions of the SINs in coordination with the security industry.
Recently, a survey of proposed changes for Schedule 84 was sent to the security industry for comment. PACS system offerings under Schedule 84 will be given consideration for expediting per the GSA Branch Chief. Schedule 70 is offering the new FASt Lane process for expedited requirements and also a new program called Springboard.
Springboard will provide an opportunity for contractors to submit a new offer without the two years in business requirement when contractors can prove expertise from their principals in prior business experience. The GSA 84 and 70 Branch Chiefs were both available for a very lively round table discussion with the security industry and government at June’s Security Industry Association (SIA) Government Summit in Washington, D.C.
The comments following the session were positive. Both GSA and the security industry wish for growth in government security sales. With the partnering attitude displayed the past year, it seems a win-win for all parties including the government agencies.
Lynn de Séve is Founder and President of GSA Schedules Inc. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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