The vast majority of businesses on the Multiple Award Schedules, commonly known as Schedules, or MAS, are small businesses. Multiple Award Schedule submissions are accepted continuously, which allows you to enter the market when you feel you are prepared. That's the good news.
The challenging news? Getting on Schedule simply qualifies you to sell to the federal government. Period. It is not a contract. It is not a marketing plan. By being qualified to sell on Schedule, you receive exposure, through System for Award Management (SAM) and GSA Advantage!®, to federal acquisition professionals looking to buy. However it does not mean that your products and services will always be what they want to buy.
Assess Your Readiness
How do you know if Schedules are right for you? How much time will it take? What are the resources required?
Fortunately GSA has developed the Vendor Toolbox, which is a collection of resources that will ultimately help you decide if getting a GSA Schedule contract is in your best interest. It contains educational information that includes online training, links to vital acquisition websites, and tips for success in the federal market. You can access the Vendor Toolbox through our Vendor Support Center.
The Vendor Toolbox outlines important questions to answer before preparing a solicitation response:
- Fit: Do the products and/or services you offer fit with a Schedules solicitation? The GSA Schedules Solicitations page contains a complete listing of GSA Schedules. Clicking on the Schedule number will take you to GSA eLibrary, which facilitates searches for Special Item Numbers (SINs). SINs are groupings of similar products, services, and solutions. Note: Certain products and services such as construction and building supplies are not covered by Schedules.
- Price: Can you compete with current contractors on GSA Schedules? Review price lists in GSA Advantage! to complete a price comparison for similar products and/or services.
- Time: Do you have the time and resources to dedicate towards responding to a Schedules solicitation, administrating the contract and marketing the contract to ordering activities? Getting on Schedule is just the beginning – you must also have the staff and capability to manage and market your business with a Schedule contract.
Prospective vendors should conduct market research to determine what comparable products and/or services are provided to the government market. Sites such as FedBizOpps, Federal Procurement Data System, and Schedules Sales Query, allow you to answer the following:
- Which federal agencies have purchased my product or service?
- Where are those agencies located?
- What was the price of those sales?
- What are the buying trends and forecasted sales for my product or service?
First Steps: Find the Right Solicitation
After your company has decided to pursue a Schedules contract, you must first find the correct Schedules solicitation for your offerings. Review the information at the GSA Schedules Solicitations page. This provides a brief description of the acquisition centers and the specific GSA Schedules, including links to GSA eLibrary and to FedBizOpps.
GSA eLibrary is the online source for GSA and VA Federal Supply Schedule award information, and includes descriptions of each Schedules’ Special Item Numbers (SINs). At FedBizOpps you can search all active federal opportunities and download the solicitation files and instructions related to a particular contract.
Get Registered and Certified
After carefully considering whether or not you have the resources to pursue a Schedules contract, and the time to both market and compete for business once you have a contract, you must complete a number of registrations and certifications before responding to a solicitation. Complete these administrative steps now, so you will be prepared to complete the solicitation process later.
With the exception of the Past Performance Evaluation, the following registrations are free:
- DUNS – The nine-digit Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS), managed by Dun & Bradstreet, is a widely accepted, unique identifier for companies around the world. A DUNS number is a prerequisite for any other registrations.
- SAM – Vendors must update information annually to make sure it is complete and accurate, especially regarding business size status.
- Past Performance Evaluation – Open Ratings, a Dun & Bradstreet company, surveys past customers in order to assess a company’s work performance. Your company must register and provide the names and email addresses of six to twenty (20) of your customers. This service has a fee.
In addition, your company may be qualified to pursue special socioeconomic government programs designed to benefit businesses. Some programs require an additional certification from the Small Business Administration and /or from the Veterans’ Administration for Veteran-owned small businesses and service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses.
It may take significant time for these agencies to process these socioeconomic certifications. We urge you to begin the application process as soon as you decide to pursue government business, whether it is getting on Schedule, subcontracting, or another category. This can help you make yourself more attractive to certain customers.