The key to success in the federal marketplace is high-quality research and business intelligence gathering. This is especially important in a market where Government Wide Acquisition Vehicles (GWACs) and other task-order/delivery-order type procurement vehicles are beginning to dominate. Companies wanting to work with the federal government need to research where (which agencies) they want to work, what (services/products) they can realistically provide, and how (which procurement vehicles) they will be able to provide their products or services. This requires understanding your customers. Many people believe that truly understanding your customers means knowing their issues/problems and being able to provide the best solutions. This is true, but equally important to this, is knowing how your customers like to procure particular products or services. There are numerous GWACs in the federal space that agencies can utilize, the most popular being the GSA Schedule Program. A good contractor will research not only which GWACs are the best for their services but also their respective client agencies. Knowing which GWACs needs to be utilized with their client agencies puts them one-step closer to success in the marketplace. With some GWACs, like the GSA Schedule Program, a company can seek to become a contract holder at any time, provided they have all the requirements necessary to be awarded a Schedule contract. Other GWAC vehicles are awarded to a set number of companies for a set period of time. And unfortunately, if you are not one of those companies, you will have to seek out one or more of the awarded companies for potential teaming/subcontracting opportunities. This requires solid networking skills in order to strategically develop relationships with companies that hold GWACs. Here again research comes into play as you will have to research which GWACs are important to your clients and which companies hold those GWACs. In addition, it is also important to know which GWAC holders have good past performance with the client(s) with whom you are seeking to work. I tell my clients that it is never too early to develop relationships with potential teaming partners. Do not wait until an opportunity is being released by the agency! If you do this, you will waste valuable time. Meet with potential teaming partners early, share information, do your due diligence on the teaming partner, talk about past performance, and get an informal agreement to work together when/if the right opportunity presents itself. If you have a good network of potential teaming partners established, it will be much easier to select the right teaming partner for the opportunity that you are seeking to win. When vetting potential teaming partners, you will want to keep the following things in mind:
- If you are unfamiliar with a company – do your due diligence.
- Look for companies that have complementary services.
- Look for companies where the partnership will balance out strengths and
- Look for companies with good past performance.
- Look for companies with GWACs that are useful to your business development plans.
- Look for companies where you feel you can establish a mutual trust.
- Look for companies that are willing to share information with you.
- Remember this is a potential partnership – so be willing to give as well as to take.
Good research – It’s your key to being more successful in the government market. GSA Schedules Open Further to State and Local Governments Until recently only the GSA Information Technology Schedule #70 has been open to cooperative purchasing. While this is still the only GSA Schedule that technically allows for purchases from state and local government entities, Section 833 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act gives these same entities the ability to purchase products and services to facilitate the recovery of a major disaster declared by the President such as those cause by terrorism, or nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack. In other words, state and local governments are allowed to use any one of the GSA Schedule contracts in order to purchase products or services in advance of a major disaster or
in its aftermath. It is up to the state and local government entity to ensure that the purchase is only being used to facilitate disaster recovery.
State and local entities are allowed to establish their own Blanket Purchase Agreements should they see a need for repetitive purchase. All of the GSA schedule sales to state and local government agencies are subject to the Industrial Funding Fee (IFF). When reporting sales, contractors are required to report sales under Recovery Purchasing separately from sales to all other authorized Schedule users. Participation in the disaster recovery program is not mandatory. Each contractor has the ability to choose whether or not their specific GSA Schedule contract will be used in support of the disaster recovery. Contractors that have elected to participate in the program are designated on the Schedules e-Library with the icon below to enable ordering entities to better search for solutions to their needs.