By Courtney Fairchild on May 1, 2023
This blog was originally featured on asbc.org’s site.
The General Services Administration (GSA) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contract can be an advantageous pursuit for government contractors that want to market to customers that use the Schedules. This twenty (20) year option period, Indefinite Delivery, Infinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract simplifies the procurement process with Federal, State, and (sometimes) Local agencies, and offers exclusive opportunities for vendors to find and respond to Requests for Information (RFIs) and Requests for Quotes (RFQs). But while the contract itself can be beneficial, the time and funding needed to secure and maintain a contract can be arduous for any business – especially small.
How do I, as a small business owner, know when I need expertise?
First, as a consultant, I advise all businesses to really consider if a MAS contract is the right fit for their business. If a business is not ready to submit, they risk wasting numerous funds to pursue a Schedule. And, if a business is not positioned to adequately use their Schedule, they’ll face cancellation due to lack of sales. How businesses pursue and maintain MAS can either unlock opportunities or cost precious time and money for zero Return on Investment (ROI).
The GSA MAS Program houses twelve (12) Large Categories, eighty-three (83) Subcategories, and 300+ North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)-based Special Item Numbers (SINs). For prospective vendors, understanding which GSA MAS Categories and SINs they qualify for and understanding the submission requirements can be difficult. Very often, businesses come to me after they’ve tried to obtain a Schedule on their own and have been rejected. Sometimes multiple times. If you’re having trouble compiling a proposal submission, reaching out to a MAS consultant will increase your chances of submitting a compliant and strategic proposal that will best reflect your services and/or products to government customers, as well as shorten the timeline to award.
If you’re already an awarded MAS contractor, compliance will be an ongoing task. Vendors who don’t understand the full scope of their responsibilities put their Schedule and resulting awarded Task Orders (TOs) in jeopardy. If you’re dealing with potential noncompliance issues (price reduction clause issues, sales reporting, price list uploads, GSA Advantage!, etc.), reaching out for assistance can save you from cancellation or potential payback of funds received.
If you’re a MAS contractor, are you doing quarterly analysis of your past performance to ensure that you are making all the modifications needed to obtain all the SINs and Labor Categories (LCATs) you can while you are in the two-year past performance window? If you’re looking to update or feature new products and/or services, MAS Modification requirements are a different beast. Often times, I’m approached by companies who need to add important services to their Schedule in order to compete for a time-sensitive bid. With most modifications taking three (3) months from submission to award, time is of the essence. If you have a bid deadline and you’re struggling to modify your Schedule contract accordingly, reaching out to a MAS consultant can unburden the process and increase your chances of success.
How do I know what expertise is needed?
Does history show that the MAS Schedule is hard to obtain or maintain for your business? Have your submissions been rejected? Has your contract been threatened cancellation? All of these scenarios are clear indicators that you’ll benefit from outsourcing. Whether you’re struggling to get on Schedule, negotiate your Schedule, maintain your Schedule, prepare for a Contractor Assessment Visit (CAV), or all of the above, a MAS consultant acts as a sounding board, Authorized Negotiator, and Contract Manager. A consultant thoroughly understands the MAS program and can strategize for best outcomes for clients. One significant bonus to outsourcing is that MAS consultants are familiar with GSA’s Contracting Officers (COs) and already have working relationships with them. They know each CO’s preference, process, and how to best collaborate to achieve the desired results.
It’s common that businesses will have internal employees oversee their Schedule contract, but do they have access to the resources they need to successfully manage AND stay compliant? Specialized consultants know how to empower your team with MAS knowledge, resources, and training. If you find that you are losing revenue or exceeding costs because your team needs less time tackling the Schedule and more time for primary job functions, enlisting an expert for full-scale Schedule management can save you time and money.
Am I able to afford the expertise as a small business?
Say after much consideration you’ve decided to pursue a GSA MAS Schedule. Now the question is: do you have the manpower and time to pursue MAS internally or should you outsource? As a Small Business (SB) owner myself, I understand a SB’s concern that outsourcing could bleed their budget. But, would pursuing MAS internally halt other important tasks? After considering time spent and inefficiencies, it may, in fact, actually cost more to conduct these activities in-house.
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and found it would be best for you to enlist a MAS expert, make sure to do strategic cost comparisons for all the consultants available. As you research, beware of scam artists and telemarketers that take funds upfront and promise the world without ever providing services. Once you find the team that fits your needs, make sure they’re not too taxing on your budget. You’ll be surprised to find that some consultants, such as Global Services, understand the unique challenges SBs face and will offer ample discounts.