Your guide to federal contracts

During the Fourth Quarter of the Fiscal Year (Q4) federal agency contracting offices and the contracting officials who “make it happen” are working as diligently as they can to quickly but responsively contract for goods and/or services to meet the needs of their internal customers. The key here is to move the procurement process along as fast as possible without violating any acquisition regulations or other contracting regulatory guidance. One great solution for the busy contracting official is to use existing GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts (often referred to as “schedules”) to procure what they need. And you want to take advantage of this opportunity.

The agency contracting official benefits several ways from using a GSA schedule to contract for goods and services, especially during the Q4 buying season, and it is important that you understand these benefits to the government so that you can position your company to benefit also. Some of the benefits are:

  • Technical qualification of the contractor already established
  • Fully burdened rates and/or prices approved
  • Discounting, especially for products, may already be known
  • Solicitations can be done via the Request for Quotes (RFQ) process rather than the usually more complex and time consuming Request for Proposals (RFP) process
  • In some cases GSA contracting officials actually carry out the acquisition process for the agency

So, how do you take advantage of this opportunity? How do you make your company a known quantity to the government buyer? You want a GSA MAS contract. This will allow you to be a “player” in this particular aspect of the Q4 buying period. Bottom line: if you aren’t on schedule or able to team with a schedule holder you will be on the sidelines watching the Q4 game play out.

Now if you are on a GSA Schedule here are some of the strategic and tactical things you want to do to be prepared for this aspect of the Q4 buying season.

Start early marketing your schedule to both current, past and potential customers. Let them know (or remind them) that you have this existing contract vehicle available as a quick and easy way for them to acquire your services and/or products.
Be prepared to educate your customer about GSA MAS use in general and how it can benefit them (see above).
Make sure that all your business development, capture management, and contract management processes are finely tuned and ready to respond when the opportunity is presented. A quick response is often required in answering RFQs and being able to do this will definitely give you a competitive edge. For example:

  • Is your GSA Advantage! web page up-to-date and a good sell tool for you?
  • Are you prepared to track GSA eBuy postings?
  • Is your accounting system ready to both accept customer payments and track your IFF payments to GSA?
  • Does your proposal management process facilitate fast turn responses to RFQs?

The important take away is that a very critical way to take advantage of the Q4 buying season is to be prepared by being on one or more GSA schedules. This will allow you to match your company’s capabilities with the government’s desire to contract quickly and efficiently. You will be in the game and in position to win contracts by “helping” the acquisition process as part of the Q4 solution.

Doña Storey is the American Express OPEN Advisor on Procurementand through her experiences as an active woman-owned small business contractor, she lends her expertise to help small businesses navigate the procurement maze and find success.
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This entry was written by Caitlin Burke, posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. You can post a comment.

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