Rejection of a GSA Schedule contract is common. About half of all offers submitted are rejected. Identifying and understanding the primary reasons for rejection equips offerors to prevent future rejection of offers. Below are the top five common areas for rejection to focus on to better prepare your company when pursuing a GSA Schedule Contract.
Choosing the correct Special Item Number (SIN) is a critical step in your application process. Various SINs have different or additional assets required to be submitted with your offer. Choosing the wrong SIN could waste your efforts dedicated to the application. Based on your products/services, it may be obvious which SIN you should apply under, or it may involve taking a deeper look into all SINs.
2. Financial Instability
There are sensitivities that come with discussing financials. It can be challenging to review your financials with an objective eye. However, this is a critical area because Contracting Officers only want to award Schedules to companies they are confident are stable, operate profitably, and have financial staying power.
Analyze your financials and ask two primary questions:
- Do you demonstrate profitability for the most recent two years?
- Do you have a positive net worth?
If your answer to the above questions is yes, you have an easier path. Be prepared to submit financials with your offer. While you might consider this information proprietary and confidential, the GSA will not consider your offer without them.
If your answer to one or both of the questions is no, you need to prepare additional information for your application.
3. Past Performance
GSA requires relevant, positive references to be submitted with your offer. These references must be relevant to the scope of your selected SIN(s), responsive to the surveys sent out by GSA, and speak positively of you or your company.
You must provide GSA with a list of three relevant customer references. Relevant customer references must be associated with three distinct orders and/or contracts and the work referenced must have been completed within three years of the date of offer submission. For each reference listed, the offeror needs to identify the following: Customer POC information, a brief description of work, the dollar value of the project, and the period of performance.
Take the time to read through all solicitation documentation, and read it slowly and more than once. There is a lot of information GSA covers in the solicitation. Create a checklist while you are reviewing the solicitation.
Be prepared for clarification questions from government and be responsive and open to their requests. There are times when more information is required by the government – in addition to the documents required in the solicitation. Companies experienced in GSA Schedule submissions are familiar with some of the underlying, non-communicated details behind each requirement. If you are not aware of them, have patience and professionalism with your GSA Contracting Officer.
The most important piece of your offer is your pricing template and coinciding Terms and Conditions (T&Cs). The Proposal Price Template you develop will establish two things which help to ensure prices offered to the government are fair and reasonable.
- The discount you will offer to GSA on all products/services placed on your contract for the entirety of your contract
- All prices offered to GSA will be lower than that of your Most Favored Customer (MFC)
At the heart of the Schedule is the Basis of Award, which is critical for compliance. Before the GSA Contracting Officer awards a contract, they and the applicant agree on the category of customers which will be the Basis of Award, and the government's price or discount relationship to that category of customer. The relationship established at the outset is maintained throughout the contract period.