By Gloria Larkin on January 24, 2022
What has caused the dramatic turnaround in the use of General Services Administration (GSA) Schedules and a direct benefit to companies who have the GSA Schedule contract vehicle? The GSA has developed an incredibly smart service with the mysterious name of MRAS, offering it at no cost to any federal government entity, with the end result being the GSA Schedule usage exceeded $39 billion in 2021, a growth of 18% since it’s low point of $32.2 billion in 2018.
Companies that know how to take advantage of this new Market Research as a Service (MRAS) service are seeing speedy growth in sales and revenues through their GSA Schedule vehicle, which is a welcome change for in-the-know GSA Schedule holders.
Why is this a secret weapon to grow sales for contractors, and what was the motivation for GSA that spurred the change?
Motivation: Government defense, civilian, and executive agencies are mandated in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) to perform market research to identify the range of businesses, from small to large, who can perform the requirements, as well as to solicit improvements in both services and products. This mandated market research is labor-intensive and time consuming, massive problems complicated by the vast number of baby-boomers retiring out of federal service with few candidates to replace them. Bottom line, there is not enough government people to do the mandated market research.
Enter the GSA with their MRAS and robots to the rescue.
Early in the procurement cycle, GSA is using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to conduct market research on behalf of any federal customer through their MRAS. The MRAS defines and identifies suppliers and contracts, researches and identifies supplier capabilities, accesses hundreds of existing market reports, and provides a market plan including socio-economic status, appropriate contract vehicles, and other recommendations. This is an extraordinary time saver for government customers who are short-staffed (all of them) and satisfies the FAR-mandated market research.
Why is it a secret weapon? Because this GSA MRAS service is only considering those contractors with the appropriate GSA Schedule and reaching directly out to them, there is no public announcement of the Request For Information (RFI) or Sources Sought Notice. Therefore, only very limited contractors are being invited to participate in the market research.
Contractors can become proactive in their positioning for MRAS and other traditional market research by understanding all the databases the government uses to store and more importantly, search or data-scrape contractor information including but not limited to SAM.gov, the SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search, Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS), DSS, GSA Advantage, and individual agency-specific databases such as National Security Agency’s (NSA) Acquisition Resource Center (ARC) or Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) mysbcx.hhs.gov.
Even fine turning one’s own company website and social media presence to reflect the needs of targeted customers is critical in the new Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused environment. Identifying specific keywords and phrases exactly matching upcoming requirements and seeding such content in appropriate databases will increase the possibility of being found by the AI tools now in use by contracting personnel.
The GSA MRAS is not a service contractors sign up or pay for, it is only offered to the government customers in all of the Department of Defense (DoD), Intelligence Community (IC), Civilian, and Executive Agencies. This is a huge time-saver for those government customers because mandated market research must be documented to support the subsequent acquisition strategy decisions to go full and open or set aside or even sole source.
For contractors holding GSA Schedules, now is the perfect time to fine tune your offerings, update your services and products, and modify your current Schedule to fit all of your offerings. For those not yet on the GSA Schedule, this is a huge motivation to tackle that process.
To learn more about MRAS and how you can have GSA take notice, look out for Gloria’s upcoming appearance on our New Normal in Government Contracting series!
About Gloria Larkin
Gloria Larkin is the President, CEO, and Founder of TargetGov, a government procurement, business development, and marketing service offering the exclusive Federal Acceleration Strategies and Tactics (FAST™) Process, the KickStart Program™, Capability Statements, certification services, capture, and expert federal contracting services. In the past 7 years, Gloria and her team have helped clients win over $7 billion in federal contracts. Featured on MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, INC Magazine, and theStreet.com, Gloria is an American Express National Procurement Advisor and Author of The Basic Guide to Government Contracting: How to Build a Successful Government Contracting Business and The Veterans Business Guide, and of hundreds of federal contracting articles in print and online. Gloria represents millions of businesswomen nationwide as the Educational Foundation Board Chair Emeritus for Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP). Gloria may be reached at GloriaLarkinTG@Targetgov.com or 866-579-1346 x 325.