From the GSA Trenches: March 2022 GSA Digest: Turning Obstacles into Awards

March 24, 2022

Aronson’s seasoned team of GSA experts works with contractors to navigate the complexities of GSA Schedule contracting. We’re here to help contractors make better strategic decisions to maximize government sales in alignment with their short and long-term goals. Our GSA digest is filled with helpful tips based upon our GSA interactions, negotiations, and successes. Our goal for sharing these updates is to assist contractors in better understanding how to profitably utilize the GSA Schedule and avoid compliance pitfalls. If you are experiencing these or other GSA Schedule contract management challenges, contact Aronson to see how we can help you overcome them!

Looking to increase your GSA Schedule sales? Maximize your use of GSA eBuy

Did you know  over 40,000 requests for quotes (RFQs) closed in GSA’s eBuy acquisition tool during FY21? This resulted in over $14 billion of awards in eBuy during FY21. The Air Force, Navy, Army, Department of Veterans Affairs, and GSA (in order of use) are the agencies that most frequently utilize eBuy. With such a large volume of sales coming through eBuy, it may surprise you to learn that the average number of responses to an RFQ in eBuy is only 3 quotes.

If you’re looking to increase your GSA Schedule sales, routinely monitoring and responding to RFQs in eBuy can give you an advantage. Guide your customer through the GSA Schedule ordering process (eBuy Buyer Job Aid) to help limit possible competitors. Respond to RFQs in eBuy (“No Quote” if you aren’t bidding, so agencies keep you on the bidders list) and increase your chances of obtaining additional Schedule sales.

Contractors only see the RFQs released under the Special Item Numbers (SINs) awarded on their GSA Schedule contract. GSA is continually updating and adding new SINs to the MAS Solicitation. Don’t miss out on sales just because your company does not have a specific SIN. Review your current capabilities against the available SINs to determine if you need to pursue adding SINs.

Contact Aronson’s GSA Schedule experts if you need help modifying your contract to reflect your current capabilities to avoid missing out on future sales.

GSA Schedule Compliance is ultimately YOUR responsibility, not GSA’s

Most contractors understand how to use their GSA Schedules, but many do not know how they work, and therefore do not have the right systems set up for compliance. For the majority of GSA Schedule holders, their primary interaction with GSA on contract compliance matters is through an Industrial Operations Analyst (IOA). The IOA is responsible for conducting Contractor Assessments – annual check-ups “designed to verify the contractor is complying with their contractual terms and conditions (Reference MAS Contractor Assessment Reference Guide).”

Since the Assessment’s purpose is to verify compliance, you may think that IOA findings serve as a validation of a contractor’s practices. However, this is incorrect. Several years ago, GSA introduced a waiver which contractors are required to sign in advance of the Assessment. It states that “an IOA’s failure to identify any past or current contract compliance issue does not constitute a finding of full compliance with the contract.”

This is an important distinction because when a third party takes a deeper dive into your GSA contract, such as in an Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit or due diligence for a transaction, compliance failures are often found and will cost you. It doesn’t matter if you have an IOA Assessment report stating your practices are fine. You are legally responsible to know better than GSA. We have seen contractors pay significant penalties as a result of audits, and transactions fail due to non-compliance – because the contractor thought they could reasonably rely on what an IOA told them.

Don’t get caught in a compliance quandary – this is especially important if you have high GSA Schedule sales volume or are preparing an exit strategy. Based on our experience, most contractors are NOT in compliance, but can be with help. If you are uncertain of whether you are meeting your GSA Schedule contract terms and conditions, Aronson’s GSA Schedule experts can conduct an internal review.

If you found this digest helpful or have additional topics you’d like us to discuss, please contact one of our consultants: Vanessa Wilson, Julia Coon, or Jennifer Aubel