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Expanding Your Business' Bottom Line through Government Contracts

Feb 10, 2008
Hundreds of U.S. companies sell the kinds of products or services that the U.S. Government is interested in buying or needs. Each year, the government purchases goods or services from private contractors that amount to 1 trillion dollars. How can your company benefit from this kind of business and where do you start? Private sector companies that want to do business with the government start with a Purchasing Agent first.

The General Services Administration (GSA) is the federal government's purchasing agent. The GSA is interested in not only doing business with bigger businesses such as IBM or Chrysler, the government loves to buy from and contract with small businesses. As government agencies are forced to scale back, they are on the lookout for competitive pricing and services. Lower prices and better service are just a few of the reasons small businesses should consider contracting with the U.S. government.

Once a business has identified they want to sell to the government, the business needs to become a GSA Registered Vendor. This automated government purchasing system is designed to help agency buyers select from the list of GSA Registered Vendors, so it is to a company's advantage to be included on that list. The GSA awards contracts to responsible companies offering commercial items at fair and reasonable prices. Contracting officers determine whether prices are fair by comparing prices/discounts that a company offers the government with the prices/discounts that the company offers to its commercial customers. In order to make this comparison, companies provide the GSA with commercial pricelists and disclose information regarding their pricing/discounting practices.

The GSA provides the online, self-paced training course, "How to Become a Contractor - GSA Schedules Program" which explains how to submit an offer, the process by which companies are evaluated and awarded a contract, how to successfully market supplies and services, and various features of the GSA Schedules Program.

Vendors are also encouraged to submit offers under the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Express Program, a specialized program created in order to simplify, streamline, and accelerate the process for vendors to obtain Schedule contracts. In order to participate, vendors must meet specific criteria for certain products and services. They must also successfully complete Pathways to Success, an educational seminar designed to assist prospective companies in making informed business decisions as to whether obtaining a GSA Schedule contract is in their best interests.

To begin, vendors should review the GSA Schedule Solicitations to determine which GSA Schedule is applicable to them and the corresponding solicitation number under which the supplies or services may be offered. Clicking on the appropriate Solicitation Number leads businesses to the solicitation files in FedBizOpps. A vendor should download the solicitation and follow the instructions.

Vendors are also advised to obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number to assist them in obtaining a GSA Schedule Contract. The DUNS number is a unique nine-character identification number provided by Dun and Bradstreet, which can be obtained on the DUNS website via telephone or internet.

Afterward, vendors can register in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database, which can only be accomplished with a DUNS Number. Vendors must be registered in the CCR prior to the award of a Schedules contract. Then, an Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) can be completed, which assists the government in reducing the administrative burden on vendors.

Some important factors to remember when considering becoming GSA-certified:
- Read the entire Schedule solicitation thoroughly and respond to all requirements.
- Make sure that all items offered are within the scope of the Schedule solicitation.
- Make sure the company is financially sound.
- Be ready to negotiate the company's best o
- Obtaining a GSA Schedule contract is not a guarantee of sales. Vendors will need to market their supplies and services to government customers.
- Vendors should ensure that all products offered are compliant with the Trade Agreements Act.
About the Author
Safecutters Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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