When you decide to pursue government contracts, the first thing you may be asked is whether you have a GSA Schedule -- the most widely used contract for federal, state and local agencies to purchase goods and services.
A good place to start to learn more is the official GSA FAQ: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/122123
In general, government contractors need contract vehicles, and many will win a place on the GSA Schedule. Before you reach for your checkbook to hire a company to help you with your GSA Schedule, consider some cases in which you may want to wait:
- Yours is a new company. GSA uses past performance and pricing to validate you as a government supplier. For example, GSA Schedule 70 for information technology calls for two years in business.
- You haven't nailed down your commercial pricing. GSA looks for a track record of pricing, and commercial prices are often the basis for government pricing.
- You aren't prepared to handle the administrative burden. Government contracts don't manage themselves.
- You are in a hurry. If you have a hot prospect but no contract, you don't have time to win a GSA Schedule award. Ask your prospective customer what contract they would prefer to use, then contact contract holders.
- When using another company's contract is better. There are many companies, especially resellers and systems integrators, that are happy to bring you on as a subcontractor so you can use their contract to win business rather than your own. In the short run, this is usually less costly than the effort to chase your own GSA schedule.
In short, don't let the lack of a GSA schedule hold you back from winning government work, or waste your time by pursuing one before you are ready.