GSA Contractor Priority Through the AbilityOne Program
The AbilityOne program is a Federal initiative to assist individuals with significant disabilities to find employment. AbilityOne has established a network of more than 600 nonprofit agencies that accommodate for individuals with disabilities such as blindness. These nonprofits are able to sell products and services to the government through GSA Schedule contracts. Vendors with GSA Schedule contracts that participate in the AbilityOne Program receive purchasing priority from government procurement officers over GSA Schedule holders with similar products that do not participate in the program. Furthermore, any GSA Schedule holders with similar items that are listed on www.AbilityOne.com and www.AbilityOne.gov receive purchasing priority from government officers over commercial competitors.
The General Services Administration (GSA) has been working with the AbilityOne Program to launch a series of free online education courses to enhance awareness and knowledge of the AbilityOne program for vendors and Multiple Award Schedule holders. Training will focus on the following three areas:
- The mission of the AbilityOne Program and becoming an authorized dealer
- Overall compliance program launched by the GSA and the AbilityOne Program
- Effective marketing and tools specific to recently launched AbilityOne products
The first session in this educational series will be released in December of 2013 in the GSA Steps newsletter. In addition, the 2013 National Industries for the Blind/National Association EPB National Conference and Expo will take place from October 9th-11th at the National Harbor in Maryland. This event will be a great opportunity for business partners, suppliers, and vendors to learn the mechanics of the industry.
Becoming an AbilityOne vendor provides many benefits to GSA Schedule contractors as their products have priority with government agencies. The AbilityOne Program enables a long term supplier relationship which significantly reduces further competition. GSA Schedule contractors considering their corporate social responsibility should also note that this program provides individuals with significant disabilities an opportunity to gain meaningful employment, lead more independent lives, and reduce their dependence on government assistance.