Category Archives: Business Development

GSA Schedule 70 HITSS II Acquisition for IT Contractors

HITSS IIIf you’re a GSA Schedule 70 Contract holder, the following HITSS II presolicitation notice on may be of interest to you. Request for Proposals (RFPs) will be issued in August 2014 with contract awards beginning in November 2014.

HITSS II Solicitation Number: SAQMMA14-HITSS-II

The acquisition strategy for Hybrid Information Technology Services for State (HITSS II) is to award multiple Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) to GSA Schedule 70 holders, who are small and disadvantaged businesses. The BPAs will have a one-year base term with four one-year options. The acquisition will have two tracks. In Track 1 (T1), one BPA will be awarded to an SBA 8(a) contractor and in Track Two (T2), multiple awards will be made to other small and disadvantaged contractors using the order of priority below.

The following priority sequence will be followed for the HITSS II acquisition (T2):

  1. HUBZone Small Businesses
  2. Service Disabled Small Businesses
  3. Woman-owned and Economically Disadvantaged Woman-owned Small Businesses
  4. Other Small Businesses

The phases of HITSS II acquisition are outlined as:

  • PRESOLICITATION PHASE: Present- May 31, 2014
  • INDUSTRY AWARENESS & DOWN-SELECT PHASE: June 1, 2014 – July 31, 2014
  • SOLICITATION & EVALUATION PHASE: August 1, 2014 – October 31, 2014
  • CONTRACT AWARD PHASE: November 1, 2014 – November 30, 2014

New GSA Disaster Response for FSS Program

disaster responseNew GSA disaster response rule was recently proposed that could ease the process for companies to get supplies and services during a disaster into the hands of those in need. Under the new rule, the General Services Administration would broaden the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) program to allow more non federal organizations to take advantage of volume pricing and simplified ordering of commercial products and services provided by GSA approved vendors.

According to an April 17th announcement, posted in the Federal Register, the American Red Cross, state and local governments, and other qualified organizations would receive greater access to schedule products and service if they’re being purchased for disaster preparedness or response. Previously, state and local governments and the American Red Cross were allowed to procure from Federal Supply Schedule contracts under specific guidelines, but other eligible organizations that provide disaster preparedness or response services were unable to. Disaster relief organizations should look further into the new announcement as their response services could become included in the expanded FSS program.

Note that companies that hold schedule contracts aren’t required to accept orders placed by state or local governments, the Red Cross, or other qualified organizations under the proposed rule, but now have the ability if they so choose.

This new rule could provide contractors across numerous schedules with much greater demand, especially in the wake of disasters.

Deeper DOD Pricing Analysis Now Necessary for GSA Orders

sales1GSA Schedule Contracts are a great acquisition vehicle for many reasons and its ability to speed acquisition is touted by many as its greatest feature. The Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program streamlines procurement for government agencies and private industries because the GSA has already determined pricing on supplies and services to be fair and reasonable. Agencies simply need to follow procurement procedures outlined under FAR 8.4 which simplify a best value award.

Agencies interested in identifying the best procedures outlined in FAR 8.4 should first consider reading the applicability and ordering procedures for Federal Supply Schedules. These two sections are crucial to the procurement process because they determine whether the agency fulfills the correct requirements for further business with their industry of choice.

Late last month, the DOD issued a new deviation to FAR 8.4 which requires DOD contracting officers to make a deeper DOD pricing analysis now through their own fair and reasonable price determination on any FSS order using the analysis techniques outlined under FAR 15.404-1. The change shouldn’t be a surprise given the current budgetary environment and cost cutting measures currently in place throughout the government.

DOD contractors utilizing the FSS program should make note of the change and consider how they are differentiating themselves when responding to DOD opportunities. If this new rule has affected you, please feel free to share it with the group.

To learn more about the change, please visit:

GSA eBuy – Underutilized RFQ Tool with Limited Competition

gsa-ebuyI’m sure this has been mentioned before, but can certainly be repeated: GSA eBuy only has on average 3.1 responses per opportunity, according to a webinar held by GSA last week. I encourage all GSA contractors to go in and view the RFPs/RFQs and RFIs posted under the SINs you are awarded under. The competition is limited and the Contracting Officer is required in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to review and evaluate each response submitted.

GSA eBuy is an excellent tool for GSA contractors attempting to take a significant leap into the marketplace because it allows agencies and GSA Schedule holders to conduct business through an online platform. Agencies use GSA eBuy as a resource to reach businesses that would otherwise be difficult to locate. Agencies would submit an RFP and GSA contractors can use the tool to submit their bids in attempt to win the contract. GSA eBuy has been known to save time and money from both sides, but also greatly increase the sales potential for the businesses that are involved in the program. The competition is also a lot smaller as it was recently reported by the GSA  that there is an average of 3.1 responses per opportunity.

Businesses should also that note that only GSA contractors who have uploaded their existing pricelist to GSA Advantage! will have access to eBuy.  This means awarded contractors should move quickly in getting their pricelist posted!


An Insight into the 2014 GSA Mentor–Protégé HUBZone Fair

hubzoneI represented several clients at the 2014 GSA Mentor – Protégé HUBZone Fair on February 24th and gained some valuable knowledge and insight during the experience that I believe can help HUBZone companies looking to expand in the GSA market. Before the meeting began, I was fortunate to have a word with Tony Eiland, the Program Coordinator for the Mentor-Protégé Program at GSA. I told him that I was representing several HUBZone companies, who are very unique and are looking to expand their presence in the GSA market. Tony was interested in HUBZones and mentioned that he would discuss a program that he believed could benefit them during his speech.

The program he was referring to was the GSA Mentor-Protégé Program, which is designed to encourage and motivate GSA prime contractors to help small businesses, and enhance their capability of performing well with their GSA contracts. The overall goal of this program is to increase the number of small businesses receiving GSA prime contract and subcontract awards, resulting from mentorship and refined business practices. This program also benefits the mentor, who from collaboration with small businesses can receive exposure to new business ideas and technology, but more importantly have a higher profile within the GSA community. A higher profile can lead to faster approval of modifications, acquisition of more GSA Schedules, and a leg up on other competition within the GSA. Tony expressed another goal which involved increasing the current 129 members in this program to 150 by the end of 2014. He also stated that out of these 129 members, only 11 are qualified for  the Mentor-Protégé program under HUBZone. He also noted that he is strictly preserving 10 spots for specifically Mentor-Protégé HUBZone members.

This push for additional HUBZone involvement in the GSA is because the GSA failed to achieve its schedule-wide HUBZone sales of 3% last year. 2.5% of GSA sales this past year was through HUBZone, and as stated by Dan Tangherlini, the Administrator of the GSA. “3.5 Billion dollars is allocated to the agency, and it is the GSA’s job to do better sales.” He stressed that HUBZone business is important to him and that the GSA is working to increase HUBZone Sales. All this news is very good to hear as a representative of HUBZone businesses myself, and for any small business looking to prosper in the GSA marketplace.

For more information, you can read more about the HUBZone program.

Good News for Small Business Subcontracting in 2014!

woman owned businessIn the coming year we can expect to see an emphasis on small business subcontracting in the federal sector. This is due to updates in the regulations on how large prime contractors meet their small business subcontracting goals, and the Small Business Administration’s completion of a multi-year process to revise standards for small businesses.

Changes to Come for Small Business Subcontracting

Some of the main changes for small business subcontracting were implemented through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The change comes from a small part of the 1608 section which reflects some of the benefits from the Small Business Act (SBA). The  new additions in 1608 are arranged to continue further participation from businesses in highly-underutilized business zones (HUBZones) as well as disadvantaged, veteran-owned, and women owned businesses.

The most encouraging factor from the new additions states that “companies winning a prime contract exceeding certain thresholds must submit to a contracting officer through small business subcontracting plans.” Small businesses from not only one tier, but all subs will be able to recognized as a result and become more attractive to prime contractors and potentially conduct more business.

Read more in the Washington Business Journal full article.

RFQ for Domestic Delivery Service Third Generation (DDS3)

DDS3 Domestic DeliveryThe General Services Administration (GSA) released an RFQ earlier this month for the third generation of its domestic delivery service program (DDS3), building on the success of the first and second generation of the program. The service is part of the agency’s Federal Strategic Sourcing plan to save federal agencies money, and has already saved the federal government $50 million in shipping costs in 2013.

DDS3 was designed as part of the latest Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) as continued efforts for GSA to save taxpayer dollars and provide the best services to the federal government. DDS3 will continue provide benefits as more savings are expected to continue during the span of the contract. Customers will feel more relieved as DDS3 will  provide a clearer path for improving business development endeavors. As customers involved in DDS2 can recall, the GSA attempted to provide more efficient services. The main focus  in DDS3 is “going green” as the GSA is attempting to work with delivery companies that partake in fuel efficient practices and environment friendly activities for their deliveries. This green initiative is being implemented as an aspiration for the agencies to reduce their “greenhouse gas footprints.” Shipping will be greatly improved as the shipping industry is continuously evolving and offering leading methods for deliveries.

Read more about DDS3 through this blog from the GSA.

President Obama Nominates Maria Contreras-Sweet to Lead the SBA

Maria Contreras-SweetMaria Contreras-Sweet, who President Obama announced this afternoon as his nominee to lead the Small Business Administration (SBA), knows first hand what it means to start a small business, and has a proven track record of helping other small businesses succeed. Contreras-Sweet has an impressive background as President Obama notes embodies one of the great pacts in America that is “if you work hard, if you take responsibility, then you can build something new.”  Contreras-Sweet is the founder of the first Latino-owned business bank in California in over 30 years, and has proven as a great resource to major job creation and infrastructure improvements.

Small businesses should celebrate this new addition to the SBA as Contreras-Sweet has stimulated California’s economy and managed over 42,000 employees with a $14 billion dollar budget. Additionally, Contreras-Sweet was the first Latina to hold a state cabinet position in California, and her time as Secretary of Business, Transportation and House Agency, has lead the agency in application of a $2.1 billion housing bond.   Her track record is impressive and will prove to be a great resource for small businesses involved in the GSA community as SBA is always looking for new methods to get small businesses involved in GSA related programs.

Read more here about the nomination and Maria-Contreras-Sweet’s accomplishment in this blog from the White House.

Expand Your Federal Sales with a Contractor Team Agreement (CTA)

HandshakeUnder a Contractor Team Agreement (CTA), two or more GSA Schedule contractors work together to meet ordering activities by providing a total solution that combines the supplies and/or services from each team members’ separate GSA Schedule contracts.

What are the benefits of a Contractor Team Agreement?

One major benefit that GSA Schedule holders under a CTA hold is the opportunity for vendors to compete for orders that they would not qualify for alone. These CTA partnerships provide quick and easy total solutions, which would otherwise be impossible under individual GSA Schedule contracts. For instance, large and small businesses can work together to achieve the contract requirements: large businesses can leverage past government experience, meet the demand of a large scoped project, and pull together resources quickly, while small businesses can qualify for small business set-aside opportunities, and often times serve an important niche that large business can’t fulfill. This can increase the vendor’s competitive edge, market shares and visibility while sharing the risk and rewards with others.

Is a Contractor Team Agreement the same as a Subcontractor Agreement?

A CTA is different from a subcontractor agreement as each team member must have a GSA Schedule Contract and each team member has certain privileges for their specific contract. In prime/sub-contractor arrangements, the relationship is very tightly defined and controlled by the prime contractor and only the prime contractor has the benefits of the contract; whereas under a CTA, each team member is also responsible for duties addressed in the CTA document and the ordering activity is invoiced at each team member’s unit prices or hourly rates as agreed.

Visiting the GSA eLibrary website is a great way to find GSA Schedule contractors who match the supply or service criteria of a Federal opportunity. A CTA cannot conflict with the underlying terms and conditions of each team member’s GSA Schedule Contract and GSA Schedule contractors are responsible for crafting the CTA document. Even though the government is not involved in this process, there are certain elements that should be included on the CTA. Prospective CTA contractors should consider particular areas of interest such as specific team activities, duration of agreement, terms of arrangement, open market items and liabilities.

You can find more information and guidelines on  the specific elements of a Contractor Team Agreement at

Find out how GSA’s Alliant GWAC Just Got Social

AlliantThis is another step the GSA is taking to increase collaboration between government and industry. They have launched a new social media community on for its Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), Alliant II and Alliant Small Business II. This is an excellent step forward as the new community will provide an advanced connection between the GSA and their customers, contractors, and aspiring Alliant customers.

In addition to the providing a strengthened connection, the GSA’s GWAC community will be collecting input and feedback from the community to provide improvements to their future versions of Alliant GWAC initiatives. These are exciting efforts after the success of the OASIS interact community proved that the feedback from the community was very beneficial toward the advancements in the OASIS program. Some interesting facts GSA Schedule holders can note is that the current Alliant GWACS for IT services is extremely successful as federal agencies have conducted more then 20 billion dollars worth of business since 2009.  This new social community also encourages President Obama’s Open Government Initiative (OGI) as the transparency additions from the GSA are opening doors between customers and government. These newer additions will also promote more relationships and potential business development with the Alliant users.

Read more about the new social media community for GWAC users in this news release.

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