GSA contracts — also called GSA schedule contracts, GSA schedules, or federal supply schedules — are contracts awarded by the General Services Administration to businesses and institutions. Companies that have GSA contracts are able to conduct business with government customers.

What Is a GSA Schedule Contract?

The General Services Administration awards GSA schedule contracts to the following:

  • Businesses 
  • Educational institutions 
  • Non-profit organizations 

These organizations can then sell products and services to government clients.

These contracts were designed to assist federal employees in buying services and products. They have specified delivery terms, pre-negotiated pricing, warranties, and other terms and conditions to streamline the buying process. GSA contracts are primarily for use with federal agencies, but in some cases they're used to conduct business with local and state governments.

GSA contracts are long-term contracts. GSA contracts are usually the best option for federal buyers because they simplify the acquisition process and cut down on risk. An entity who holds a GSA contract is often viewed as more trustworthy to do business with because it's been “pre-approved” and validated.

GSA contracts aren't tied to any actual purchases. Instead, they're a channel for federal sales to flow through.

It's a five-year, unfunded contract. The initial term is five years, but the contract comes with three five-year extensions. Therefore, it's possible for a company to hold a contract for 20 years.

Benefits of GSA Schedule Contracts

Contractors who hold GSA contracts are often viewed as trusted sources by government buyers. There's an intense vetting process to obtain a GSA contract. Once you pass this process, it shows local, state, or federal buyers that your company is in good standing. It also demonstrates you have the capability to deliver the products and/or services you're trying to sell.

GSA contract holders have a major advantage in having access to several online GSA systems, such as the following: 

Contractors can easily be found by buyers who are looking for particular services or products. While contractors don't have to have a GSA contract to do business with the federal government, they should be aware that many agencies only order through GSA contracts. Therefore, companies that do a lot of business with government agencies find it necessary to get a GSA contract.

The benefits of holding these types of contracts include the following:

  • Smaller number of competitors 
  • Competitive advantage 
  • Access to over $45 billion in yearly sales 
  • Simplified, shorter sales process
  • Ability to sell to all federal agencies, and in some cases, to local and state governments

Still, getting a GSA contract might not be the best first step to take if you're just getting started in the government market. It's worth obtaining a contract to expand government sales if any of the following apply: 

  • Clients request you have a GSA schedule 
  • Competitors hold GSA schedules 
  • Market research supports GSA contract sales 
  • You have experience selling to government agencies

Contractors gain advantages of GSA contracts in the federal market, such as the following: 

  • Having access to exclusive opportunities in the GSA market 
  • Validation in the eyes of buyers 
  • Pre-negotiated pricing 
  • Simplified buying process

There's less paperwork for buyers because GSA contract holders have already completed many portions of a purchase order.

Although many companies experience fast growth through GSA contracts, they still have to work hard to connect with customers and maintain a competitive edge. Prices awarded on GSA contracts are considered fair and reasonable and to be in compliance with applicable laws. This reduces the time and complexity of the negotiation process.

One of the best reasons for having GSA contracts is having an easier time landing individual contracts for your company. Your bidding process will be simpler, and you'll have less competition. If you're planning on having a long-term relationship with government agencies, obtaining one of these contracts makes good business sense.

Not every business needs to acquire a GSA contract, but for certain organizations, it can be very beneficial. It's worth going through the arduous vetting process for many companies, since the result is increased sales. In addition, entities enjoy the enhanced validation and good reputation they have with their association with the GSA.

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