Tip #538: No Magic Pipeline to Federal Contracts- Part One
“I have no magic formula. The only way I know to win is through hard work.” Don Shula
How could I resist? It sounded so good: just get onto the Government Services Administration (GSA) schedule and federal agencies would directly contract with my company. There would be no need for me to respond to Requests for Proposals.
The GSA website proudly states that “The GSA Schedules program is the premier acquisition vehicle in government, with approximately $50 billion a year in spending or 10 percent of overall federal procurement spending. GSA Schedules are fast, easy, and effective contracting vehicles for both customers and vendors.”
The prospect was sweetened by the fact that there are specific set-asides for small businesses and for women-owned businesses.
On December 13, 2013, I received my Congressional Notification that Laurel and Associates, Ltd. would be on the Mission Oriented Business Integrated Services (MOBIS) register through 12/19/2018.
It was almost anticlimactic, because it had taken two years to complete many exhaustive, time consuming and frequently expensive steps to get there.
I signed on with a company that promised to get me onto the GSA Schedule. I had looked at the solicitation requirements and knew that I couldn’t complete the process without professional guidance. I bit the bullet and paid them $1,500 thousand dollars upfront.
After considerable discussion and research, we determined that my services best fit Schedule 874: Mission Oriented Business Integrated Services (MOBIS). There appeared to be four categories that were most relevant: Consulting Services, Facilitation Services, Training Services, Ancillary Supplies and/or Services.
I spent weeks writing up detailed descriptions of my company, my services, my corporate practices, my credentials and my finances. This included narratives of work to support my inclusion under these four service categories.
Each narrative required: the customer/client name; project name; point of contact’s phone number and email address; project performance period; dollar value of the entire project; copy of the statement of work; brief summary of the project as a whole; end results achieved; tools, methodology and/or processes utilized to the complete the project; compliance with any applicable laws, client requirements, professional standards, etc.; the project schedule with major milestones; tasks; deliverables; explanation of any delays; how the work was performed; if all of the tasks were completed as described; and specific experience and/or special qualifications that enabled me to complete the project.
After creating two narratives for each service category, my GSA marketing firm informed me that I could only use work completed in the past five years. I had to throw out half of what I had written.
I provided a list of my training programs and the GSA marketing company developed a proposed GSA price list. By the way, concerning that price list. The government wants significant discounts and volume discounts on top of that. The entire pricing system is amazingly one-sided in the government’s favor.
Then I was told that I had to show invoices that supported each program. If I didn’t have an invoice from the past 5 years, I could not propose the program. To Be Continued…
May your learning be sweet.