GSA CONTRACTING FAQ's

This GSA Frequently Asked Questions website is a free service provided by GSA Small Business Assistance located at  www.gsa-sba.com.  

Table of Contents

Section 1.  Common GSA Contract Terms

Section 2.  General Questions

Section 3.  GSA Contract Qualification Questions

Section 4.  Pre-GSA Contract Submittal Questions

Section 5.  Pre-GSA Contract Award Questions

Section 6.  Post-GSA Contract Award Questions

Section 7.  Important Web Links

 

Section 1.  Common GSA Contract Terms

GSA – General Services Administration (for the purpose of this website GSA is the contract manager for GSA Contracts or US Federal Government Contracts)

GSA Schedule – An umbrella group of similar GSA contracts, for example Schedule 70 includes all information technology contracts.

GSA Solicitation –a GSA solicitation means the same thing as a GSA schedule.  For each offered GSA schedule, there is a solicitation number.

GSA Advantage or a GSA Advantage upload-GSA Advantage works like an online shopping cart.  When a company is awarded a GSA contract is required to upload their products or services to GSA Advantage.

GSA Offer-when a company completes a required GSA solicitation and submits it to the GSA,  This is referred to as a GSA offer.

GSA eOffer-when a company completes a required GSA solicitation and submits it to the GSA in the GSA' s electronic submittal format. 

GSA eMod-when a company completes a modification to their GSA contract and submits it using the GSA' s electronic submittal format.

Open Ratings Report-a customer service survey required by the GSA to be included their GSA offer. An Open Ratings Report costs $195 to complete. An Open Ratings Report also requires 8 to 10 customer contacts including their: name, company name, e-mail address and phone number.

SAM Registration-stands for System for Award Management and replaces the CCR and ORCA registrations.  The SAM registration is required prior to the submittal of a GSA offer.  The  SAM registration requires a Duns number to register.  If you do not have a Duns number, one can be obtained free of charge by calling phone number 1-866-705-5711.

FAR – Federal Acquisition Regulations 

IFF - industrial funding fee (currently .75%).  This fee is added to your GSA contract sales and then paid back to the GSA on a quarterly basis.  (This fee works like a sales tax you collect from federal government customers and then pay back to the GSA)

FPR Letter – also referred to as a final proposal revision letter. The FPR is a document containing final terms and conditions used to award a GSA contract.

Section 2.  General Questions

Who is the GSA?  The GSA or General Services Administration manages federal contracts referred to as GSA contracts.

What is GSA Contracting?  GSA contracting pre-approves vendors to supply products and services to the US Federal Government.  A large percentage of the federal contract dollars are awarded through GSA contracts.  A portion of federal contract dollars to flow through other vehicles outside of GSA contracting, but it requires a competitive or sole source type contracting.

Why use GSA Contracting?  Once pre-approved with a GSA contract, it allows a vendor to sell directly to the federal government without competitive bidding.  A GSA contract is set up so that a purchasing agent can purchase products or services on the spot.

How much time does it take to get a GSA contract award?  There are two phases to a GSA contract award.  The first phase involves developing the draft and preparing the submittal.  The timing of the first phase varies, but for most small companies, it takes an average of three to four weeks.  The second phase is from submittal to GSA contract award.  This phase also varies, but for most small companies, this phase takes two to four months.

Can I complete a GSA contract on my own?  It is possible for someone to complete a GSA contract application without expert assistance.  Expect a large learning curve and time-consuming process.  The GSA contract award process is bureaucratic and cumbersome. For most small companies the task of completing a GSA contract without expert assistance is very difficult.  The question becomes, is it worth your time and effort to go through this complex process, and possibly not getting the GSA contract awarded.  In the end most companies decide to use an outside expert for the contract award process. 

What Important things do I need to consider when selecting someone to assist GSA contract preparation and GSA offer submittal to get a GSA contract award?  For most small companies price is an important factor, but it should not be the only factor.  Ask what the price includes:

Is it full service from start to award?

Does it include after award services?  If so, what services?

How much experience does the company have?

Does the cost include the open ratings report?

What kind of guarantee of the GSA contract award, does the company offer?

For more information about using the GSA services of the company that owns this website please contact us at:  www.gsa-sba.com

Section 3.  GSA Contract Qualification Questions

Do I qualify for a GSA contract award?  The GSA awards the contract to the company not an individual and in order to qualify for a GSA contract award you must have been in business as a company for more than a year. 

What are the financial requirements of obtaining a GSA award?  The GSA requires one to two years of financial data.  The GSA has a few of red flags when evaluating a companies financial strength.  One is having a high amount of liabilities, compared to sales for the company.  Other financial red flags include a company bankruptcy within the last five years or a lien against the company.

Section 4.  Pre-GSA Contract Submittal Questions

Generally, what are the requirements of a GSA submittal?  The submittal can be broken into four parts.  The first requires that you complete the SAM registration.  The second part is basic company information, including contact information mailing address, phone numbers, e-mail, and Web address.  The third part includes contacts for the open ratings report.  The fourth part includes pricing information for products or services offered. And if Services (hourly rate, rate per service) options are being offered the GSA requires: labor or service category descriptions; a corporate experience overview; and example projects showing experience in the area you are requesting approval.

Are there any GSA requirements specific to a product submittal to consider?  If you are offering products, you have to have experience selling those products. Also, if you are not a manufacturer of the product, you must obtain a letter of supply from the manufacturer.  A manufacturer must be TAA (trade agreement act) compliant, meaning you can't supply products manufactured in countries like China that the United States does not have a trade agreement with. 

Are there any GSA requirements specific to a services (hourly rate) submittal to consider? If you are selling services or labor rates, you have to have experience offering those specific labor rates.  GSA will last for verification through invoices or other similar methods.

Section 5.  GSA Contract Questions Before Award

How long does it take before the GSA contracting officer starts reviewing our submittal?  For most GSA submittals, it takes one to two months for the contract officer to begin review.

Can I expect questions from the GSA contract officer after the submittal and before the award?  It is normal for the GSA contract officer to have some questions during the review process.  Most of the questions will be asked in written form via a fax or an e-mail. A normal range is 5 to 10 questions in the first round, with additional some follow-up questions verbally or in writing.

What is meant by the term negotiations with the GSA contract officer?  A final negotiation call is a term GSA uses to ask for a best and final offer.  In most cases, the GSA will last for additional discounts during this final conversation.  They will also go through terms and conditions in the final offer.

What is the process in completing a Final Proposal Revision (FPR) letter?  A FPR letter is given in draft form, by the GSA contract officer and contains the final terms and conditions of a GSA contract award.  The FPR letter is then finalized on company letterhead and signed by a company representative.  Once the FPR is finalized and sent back to the GSA contract officer the GSA contract is awarded.

When do I receive my GSA Contract number?  After the GSA contract officer has signed off on the FPR through the eOffer system the contractor will notified by email, fax or mailed copy of the award.  Note: When the proposer signs the eOffer the GSA contract # is immediately assigned on the upper left-hand corner of the Form 1449.

How long is my GSA contract number good for?  The GSA contract is awarded for a five year period and can be renewed for 3 additional 5-year periods.

Section 6.  GSA Contract Questions After Award

When do am I required to upload information to GSA Advantage?   You have six months to upload your GSA award information to the GSA Advantage website.

Is uploading GSA contract information something I can do myself?   If you only offered services or a few products the GSA Advantage upload is straight forward.  If you have many hundreds or thousands of products it becomes very complex and difficult and you may want to hire someone to assist you.

What is the IFF and how is paid?  GSA vendors are required to track all GSA sales under their GSA contract.  Vendors are required to charge the IFF rate of 0.75% for all sales under their GSA contract.  For example:

Your company makes a GSA sale of $100,000 to the US Air Force.  The total invoice to the US Air Force for this sale would be $100,000 + the IFF of 0.75% ($750) or $100,750.   If this was the only sale for your company during the quarter, you would pay the $750 back to the GSA through your Form 72A report. If your sales are $0 for a quarter you are still required to report that sales were $0, but no IFF payment would be required.

If I need to modify my GSA contract is that something I can do myself?  For most modifications you can work directly with your GSA contract officer to complete a modification without consulting assistance.  You can either submit your GSA modification to your contract officer in writing or if available through a GSA eModification.

Am I required to have a minimum amount of sales under my GSA contract?  Vendors are required to have a minimum of $25,000 in sales under their GSA contract during the first two years of the GSA contract, and $25,000/year of GSA sales for each year after that.

Do government purchasing agents find me for GSA Sales or do I have to market my GSA Contract products and/or services to government purchasing agents?  A GSA contract is only the vehicle to easily execute federal government sales.  A vendor must market products or services to federal government buyers, just like is done in the commercial arena.  GSA will assign an area compliance and marketing representative that will give tips on how to best market your products/services, including uploading your product/services information to the federal governments online shopping cart at www.gsaadvantage.gov.

Section 7.  Important Web Links

GSA Contract Award Assistance www.gsa-sba.com

General Service Administration or GSA:  www.gsa.gov 

GSA Advantage:  www.gsaadvantage.gov

GSA Vendor Assistance Center:  http://vsc.gsa.gov

GSA Vendor Training: http://vsc.gsa.gov/vsc/index_wo_js.cfm?level=8

GSA Schedule E-Library: http://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/ElibHome

GSA eOffer Site:  http://eoffer.gsa.gov/

 SAM Registration:  https://www.sam.gov/  

Small Business Administration or SBA:  www.sba.gov

Federal Acquisition Regulations or FAR:  http://acquisition.gov/far/index.html 

 

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Additional Questions may be submitted via email to info@gsa-sba.com

 

 

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