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7 Days of #FedFrenzy

in Developing Your Federal Strategy by isiFederal Leave a comment

We’re already a week into our #FedFrenzy countdown to the end of the fiscal year 2015! This countdown is all about the actions you can take right now to help your business gain a competitive advantage during the spending frenzy that peaks in September. In case you missed any of the tweets, here’s 7 days’ worth of federal business advice. Feel free to retweet or favorite these for later reference.

1. Update your capability statement. 

2. Make sure your GSA Schedule numbers are profitable.

3. Find three people you were supposed to call last month–and call them!

4. Send an updated, dated capabilities statement even if you haven’t changed a thing.

5. Find and target the top fifty people who buy what you sell.

(And if you don’t know who they are, that would be a good point to start.)

6. Habit 7…Sharpen your saw. Take a hike!

7. Habit 7: Sharpen your saw. Think of your favorite place and go there for a while.

We’ll be sharing a new tip every day, so be sure to check #FedFrenzy for updates.

TAA Compliance and What it Means for Your Federal Business

in Bidding Basics, Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Federal FAQs, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules by isiFederal Web Admin Leave a comment

What is TAA?

TAA refers to the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, which impacts how the United States government does business with other countries–in effect, it actually implements provisions previously negotiated in the Trade Act of 1974.

What is the purpose of TAA?

Besides its most obvious purpose (implementation of the Trade Act) TAA is also intended to nurture free and open international trade, maintain a healthy balance of payments, ensure a substantial amount of US tax payers’ money goes back into the US economy thus providing the maximum benefit to US business owners, and stimulate economic development in underdeveloped countries, all while enforcing the standards that make it possible to do business with the federal government.

Which countries are TAA compliant?

Broadly, there are four types of countries on the TAA compliance list:

  • Countries with a free trade agreement with the United States (this includes Canada, Mexico, and Australia)
  • World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement (WTO GPA) participants, such as Japan
  • Least Developed Countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh
  • Countries in the Caribbean basin
On a map, here’s what it looks like:

TAA Global Map

TAA Global Map

As of 2014, there are 119 TAA compliant countries:

List of TAA Compliant Countries (2014)

TAA Compliance Country Chart (2014)

Why should I bother with TAA compliance?

A GSA schedule is the government’s preferred procurement vehicle, and being TAA compliant means you can focus on growing your business at home and abroad without worrying about losing that. It’s also a good way to ensure you still give back to country even as you explore new horizons!

Already TAA compliant? Get a GSA schedule!

List of GSA Schedules

in Federal Contracting, Federal FAQs by isiFederal Web Admin 1 Comment

What’s on the GSA menu?

As of August 2014, here’s a list of all the schedules offered by the General Services Administration.

Source

Description

BPAMAS Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs)

In order to support agencies with their strategic sourcing requirements, GSA is developing a number of MAS Blanket Purchase Agreements for selected commodities and services. These BPAs can be used by all agencies to fulfill requirements. MAS BPAs leverage the government's buying power and achieve significant cost savings through the aggregating of federal demand.
00CORPTHE CONSOLIDATED SCHEDULE

The Consolidated Schedule provides a streamlined approach to fulfilling requirements that fall within the scope of more than one schedule for acquiring a total solution. Contractors under this schedule hold a single contract that includes two or more combined services from schedules.
03FACFACILITIES MAINTENANCE AND MANAGEMENT

GSA offers a vast array of innovative, customer-focused facilities products and services. Facilities Maintenance and Management, Schedule number 03FAC, is a Multiple Award Schedule that provides federal agencies a streamlined procurement device to acquire all of the services necessary to maintain and manage a facility.
23 VAUTOMOTIVE SUPERSTORE

GSA purchases many types of new vehicles and vehicle related products for government agencies and DoD. Use AutoChoice to purchase: Alternative fuel vehicles; Ambulances; Buses; Light trucks; Light trucks - vocational; Medium and heavy trucks; Sedans; Wheelchair vans; Wreckers and carriers.

When using this schedule, you can access vendors directly to place an order for vehicles or accessories or you can contact GSA to place the order on your behalf! More information on these options is available through our CARS line at 703-605-CARS (2277). The following vehicles and accessories are available under GSA Schedule: Aerial Devices and Digger/Derricks; Construction Equipment, Road and Snow Maintenance; Fire Trucks; Low Speed Vehicles (Gas or Electric); Mobile Command Centers; Remanufactured Engines; Snow Maintenance Equipment; Tankers; Tires; Trailers; Trash Collectors and Recycling Vehicles; Truck Bodies; and Vehicle Accessories and Equipment.
36THE OFFICE, IMAGING AND DOCUMENT SOLUTION
48TRANSPORTATION, DELIVERY AND RELOCATION SOLUTIONS
51 VHARDWARE SUPERSTORE

Includes Household and Office Appliances; Commercial Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants and Lubricants; Hardware Store Catalog and Store Front; Lawn and Garden Equipment, Machinery and Implements; Rental and Leasing (as pertains to products offered under this schedule); Tools, Tool Kits, Tool Boxes; Woodworking and Metal Working Machinery; All Parts and Accessories Related to Products Offered Under This Schedule.
520FINANCIAL AND BUSINESS SOLUTIONS (FABS)

This Multiple Award Schedule provides Federal agencies with direct access to commercial experts that can thoroughly address the needs of the Federal financial community. FABS not only gives you access to a multitude of professional financial services, but also provides you with the ability to customize the services to meet your specific needs. The FABS schedule allows for choice, flexibility, ease-of-use and access to quality firms in the financial arena.
541ADVERTISING & INTEGRATED MARKETING SOLUTIONS (AIMS)
56BUILDINGS AND BUILDING MATERIALS/INDUSTRIAL SERVICES AND SUPPLIES

This Schedule provides a full range of commercial products and services covering such areas as buildings and building materials/industrial services and supplies. In addition, this program offers energy saving building supplies, alternative energy solutions, and related services.
58 IPROFESSIONAL AUDIO/VIDEO TELEMETRY/TRACKING, RECORDING/REPRODUCING AND SIGNAL DATA SOLUTIONS
599TRAVEL SERVICES SOLUTIONS
621 IPROFESSIONAL AND ALLIED HEALTHCARE STAFFING SERVICES
621 IIMEDICAL LABORATORY TESTING AND ANALYSIS SERVICES
65 I BPHARMACEUTICALS AND DRUGS

Includes Antiseptic Liquid Skin Cleansing Detergents and Soaps, Dispensers and Accessories.
65 II AMEDICAL EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
65 II CDENTAL EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES
65 II FPATIENT MOBILITY DEVICES

Includes Wheelchairs, scooters, walkers.
65 V AX-RAY EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES

Includes medical and dental x-ray film.
65 VIIINVITRO DIAGNOSTICS, REAGENTS, TEST KITS AND TEST SETS
66SCIENTIFIC EQUIPMENT AND SERVICES

Test and Measurement Equipment, Unmanned Scientific Vehicles; Laboratory Instruments, Furnishings and LIMS; Geophysical and Environmental Analysis Equipment; and Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical, and Geophysical Testing Services
66 IIICLINICAL ANALYZERS, LABORATORY, COST-PER-TEST
67PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT

Cameras, photographic printers and related supplies & services (digital and film-based)
70GENERAL PURPOSE COMMERCIAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EQUIPMENT, SOFTWARE, AND SERVICES

Pursuant to Section 211 of the e-Gov Act of 2002, Cooperative Purchasing provides authorized State and local government entities access to information technology items offered through GSA's Schedule 70 and the Corporate contracts for associated special item numbers. Contracts with the COOP PURC icon indicate that authorized state and local government entities may procure from that contract.
71FURNITURE
71 II KCOMPREHENSIVE FURNITURE MANAGEMENT SERVICES (CFMS)
72FURNISHING AND FLOOR COVERINGS
73FOOD SERVICE, HOSPITALITY, CLEANING EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES, CHEMICALS AND SERVICES

Offers a variety of cleaning equipment and accessories, and cleaning products for daily cleaning - products that keep facilities clean in an environmentally friendly manner. Housing Managers and Facility Managers will enjoy the full range of Hospitality Solutions under this Schedule. In addition, all food service needs from eating utensils to an entire custom designed food court kiosk concept that supports new branding initiatives are available.
736TEMPORARY ADMINISTRATIVE AND PROFESSIONAL STAFFING (TAPS)

Temporary Administrative and Professional Staffing Services
738 IILANGUAGE SERVICES

GSA's Language Services Schedule facilitates access to commercial providers of linguists who can supply an array of Language Services, including Translation Services, Interpretation Services, Sign Language and Title III work, and Training Services. For more on Language Services, click here.
738 XHUMAN RESOURCES & EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY SERVICES
75OFFICE PRODUCTS/SUPPLIES AND SERVICES AND NEW PRODUCTS/TECHNOLOGY

Includes Videotapes, Audiotapes, Tape Cartridges, Diskettes/Optical Disks, Disk Packs, Disk Cartridges, Anti-Glare Screens, Cleaning Equipment & Supplies, Ergonomic Devices, Next Day Desktop Delivery of Office Supplies, and Restroom Products such as Roll Toilet Tissue Dispensers, Toilet Tissue, Paper Towels, Toilet Seat Covers, Facial Tissues, and Soaps for Restroom Dispensers.
751LEASING OF AUTOMOBILES AND LIGHT TRUCKS
76PUBLICATION MEDIA
78SPORTS, PROMOTIONAL, OUTDOOR, RECREATION, TROPHIES AND SIGNS (SPORTS)

Sports equipment and supplies, fitness equipment, sounds of music, child's play, sports clothing and accessories, safety zone products, camping and hiking equipment, park and playground equipment, wheel and track vehicles, recreational watercraft, flags, awards, trophies, presentations, promotional products, briefcases and carrying cases, trade show displays and exhibit systems and all related products and service.
81 I BSHIPPING, PACKAGING AND PACKING SUPPLIES

Bags, Sacks, Cartons, Crates, Packaging And Packing Bulk Material
84TOTAL SOLUTIONS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT, SECURITY, FACILITIES MANAGEMENT, FIRE, RESCUE, CLOTHING, MARINE CRAFT AND EMERGENCY/DISASTER RESPONSE

The Local Preparedness Acquisition Act, signed June 26, 2008, authorizes state and local governments to purchase from GSA alarm and signal systems, facility management systems, firefighting and rescue equipment, law enforcement and security equipment, marine craft and related equipment, special purpose clothing, and related services.
871PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING SERVICES
874MISSION ORIENTED BUSINESS INTEGRATED SERVICES (MOBIS)

NOTE: Schedule 69, TRAINING AIDS & DEVICES INSTRUCTOR-LED TRAINING; COURSE DEVELOPMENT; TEST ADMINISTRATION has been incorporated in SINS 4,5,8&9
874 VLOGISTICS WORLDWIDE (LOGWORLD)
899ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
Source: GSA eLibrary

 

 

Top Ten Websites for GSA Schedule Holders

in Federal Contracting, Federal FAQs by isiFederal Leave a comment

Things can get a little crazy if you’ve got a GSA Schedule to maintain. Here’s our list of the top 10 sites you should bookmark to keep yourself organized and on top of things. We’ll keep it brief to save you time:

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How to Get Just About ANYONE to Refer You

in Federal Contracting, Federal FAQs, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe Leave a comment

Depending on the culture of an organization, some people will never give out any names. You probably already know this and you probably already know how difficult it can make things, especially when you’re just starting out.

Manufacturing referrals is a process you can use, no matter what your business is, to get to who you really need to reach. Now, this is not universal but I would like to suggest that you can get a referral from just about everyone if you keep a couple of things in mind:

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Federal Contractor Capabilities Statements that Get Results

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Federal FAQs, Reaching Your Buyers by Aisha H. Leave a comment


Most people don’t see how a capabilities statement–especially if written effectively and precisely–can work its magic through the federal food chain.

An important part of communicating with contracting officers or any one dealing with acquisitions in the federal government is to have information relevant to them up front. Nothing does the job better than a company’s Capabilities Statement.

Now, I’ve worked for almost half a decade contacting different agencies about vendors trying to get business from them and my first question is “Do you have our capabilities statement?” In return I’ve heard a lot of folks say “We do but it goes into our pool,” meaning they have a folder that contains all the capabilities sent to them. Although that might sound like a blow-off, most people don’t see how a capabilities statement–especially if written effectively and precisely–can work its magic through the federal food chain.

A client of ours, who’s been with us for over two years, regularly receives acknowledgments from contracting agents saying that not only do they know about them but they would love to hear more about them. Why the warm response? Because we consistently use a streamlined process of sending, updating and following up with federal contacts who have the company’s capabilities statement. But again: the emphasis is on “effective”. No amount of marketing and followups is going to help you if your material just doesn’t work.
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The Key to Effective Communication? Know Thyself–and Others

in Business, Federal Contracting, Heard It Through the Fedvine: Guest Posts, Reaching Your Buyers by isiFederal Guest 1 Comment
Two weeks ago, Inc. Magazine published an article by Dr.Geil Browning on how to boost productivity by understanding the way your mind works. We thought it was pretty interesting stuff, so we asked the folks at Emergenetics what they could tell us about communication: the art and science of sending the right message.

Mark Miller had this to say.

George Bernard Shaw, famous playwright and Nobel Prize for Literature winner, once said, “The greatest problem with communication is the assumption that it has taken place.”

How true. Communication is challenging because different people hear different things. You may think you are making yourself clear, but you run the risk of being misunderstood unless you make a conscious effort to speak in a way that appeals to the way the other person thinks.
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The CEO’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing–for Federal Business

in Books, Federal Contracting, Fedvine Freebies, Resources by isiFederal Leave a comment

"Going for Gold": Winning Business with the Federal GovernmentisiFederal CEO David Lowe‘s upcoming digital handbook “Going for Gold: Winning Business with the Government” is a brief guide to the ins and outs of federal business that condenses years’ worth of federal contracting knowledge into a short booklet–perfect to read between meetings, so you can get you up to speed on how things really work in the federal market while you plan your next business move.

The government wants companies who understand their internal processes and have experience in the way that their agency operates. So…you can’t win because you have no experience and you can’t get experience because you can’t win.
Welcome to the federal contracting world.
” –excerpt

Slated for release via the isiFederal website on March 14 2014 and written with the small- and medium-business owner in mind, the handbook begins by providing an overview of the federal procurement process. It busts commonly held myths–no, the government is not just looking for the lowest price in the market–and also doles out a dose of reality: as many as 90% of federal contractors (including 80% of GSA Schedule holders) fail because they make crucial business process mistakes that cost them heavily in the long-run.

This should be alarming news for any American, since a New York Times article revealed that 94% of large-scale federal IT projects in the past 10 years failed at the expense of taxpayers, but for a federal contractor it also means the difference between banking a million dollars–or filing for bankruptcy.

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What Healthcare Reform Means for Federal Business

in Federal Contracting, News, Policy Impact by isiFederal Leave a comment

Affordable-Care-Act_t607Pete Chesner and Jamey Zell join our CEO David Lowe to discuss ways GSA Schedule Holders can drive GSA sales, in the month of January 2014. Besides talking about GSA strategies and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on businesses in the federal space, Dave also picks up where we left off last time and reveals more about the next 6 steps to winning federal business.

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The Importance of Doing Things Badly

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers by isiFederal Leave a comment

Cartoonist Hugh MacLeod has a new print available on his website and it gives a powerful message, one that’s more easily echoed than accepted.

"Failure is a Prerequisite" by Hugh MacLeod

All too often in our rush for success, we forget that failure is one of the best ways to learn anything. You can’t know what can go right till you’ve experienced firsthand what can go wrong. It’s so simple, even a kid could understand it–and it seems like these days they’re the only people who do. The rest of us are so busy making sure we don’t take unnecessary risks that we end up trying to avoid making necessary mistakes.

There’s a difference between the two.

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GSA by the Numbers

in Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules by David Lowe 1 Comment

The 2013 GSA sales numbers were finally released in late December.  After hovering around the $38B, GSA sales have declined below the $35B mark.  The fact is, GSA sales have been declining for the past 3 years and are expected to continue declining due to several areas that affect the federal marketplace.

Certainly the federal budgeting and sequestration mess affects spending but more importantly to your federal market and GSA is the development and utilization of large IDIQ’s, BPA’s and other GWAC’s executed without GSA involvement.  While agencies have always had BPA’s (Blanket Purchase Agreements) and IDIQ’s (Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity) to facilitate repetitive purchases the real explosion goes back to NMCI, a multi-billion dollar contract for managing desktops in the Navy and Marines.

Another component to consider are GWAC’s (Government-Wide Acquisition Contract) like NASA SEWP that has grown to $2.5 Billion annually and is often utilized ahead of schedule 70 in many civilian agencies.  Other contract vehicles like NMCI (Navy Marine Corps Intranet) managing more than 363,000 computers and Army CHESS (Computer Hardware Enterprise Software and Solutions) which is mandated by the Army as first priority for all IT purchases and Seaport-e the Navy’s attempt at CHESS bite into GSA schedule 70 potential market and contribute to the decline in overall revenues.
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Why 80% of GSA Schedule Holders Fail

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe 1 Comment

I recently sent out an update from a Driving GSA Sales webinar session and I received a response from a gentleman that makes sense to share with everyone.  Here was my update and the ensuing response…

Hey Everyone,

Normally I don’t send out recaps for our Driving GSA Sales Series but since we maxed out the webinar yesterday, I wanted to make sure that everyone had access to the presentation and link to the video (see below). With FY2013 closing out, federal spending is red hot with opportunities really breaking loose at a record pace- but not for everyone…

Did you know that 80% of GSA schedule holders are in the process of failing right now? Yesterday we took a look at how to change that by getting in front of the right people and getting your message across with procurement briefings. Again, sorry if you were not able to log on, please make sure you are registered Driving GSA Sales 2013 and get there EARLY next month as we will be in the throws of the final spending madness. Also, if you have any topics that you would like to cover in 2014, please let me know so we can keep the series fresh…

Thanks!
-Dave

Dave,

I am curious, where do you get your information from ? Your statement, “ 80% of GSA Schedule Holders are in the process of failing” ….

That seems like an extremely high amount – how are they failing? Why are they failing?

-Patrick

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GSA OASIS Roundtable

in Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules by David Lowe Leave a comment

 

Friday March 29th 2013, GSA released the much anticipated OASIS (One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services) Draft RFP.  The files can be downloaded directly from FBO:

OASIS_RFI Full and Open w/50% Small Business Comittment

OASIS_SB_RFI 100% Small Business Set-Aside

Response Date:  Apr 29, 2013 11:59 pm Eastern

Thursday 4/11 at 1PM EST there will be a roundtable session to develop industry comments that are due by 4/29.  This contract will be segmented into “pools” responses graded on core disciplines (functional areas).  Some of these requirements are pretty challenging for small businesses but that doesn’t mean shy away, it means make sure you have your ducks in a row and you respond professionally and meet all the mandatory requirements. 

Join the panel of leading proposal development, capture management and federal sales experts as they:

1) Market potential by pool
2) Review the core requirements of each pool
3) Discuss qualifications necessary to compete for your pool
4) Identify key areas of concern
5) Develop your proactive proposal response strategy

Determine how you can best compete for this opportunity and how you can best position your company.

 

Register-Now.gif

 

Making sense of Federal Alphabet SEWP

in Agency Focus, Federal Contracting by David Lowe 1 Comment

When you start diving into selling to the federal government you are immediately confronted with funky acronyms- and they never stop!  It’s almost as if you have to develop an acronym to be considered a real program.

Some of them are pretty funny too like the irony of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration being NOAA (pronounced Noah).  Nasa’s SEWP (pronounced soup) stands for Solutions for Enterprise Wide Procurement and to enhance the funny punny, they added Business Operations and Workstation Laboratory (BOWL).  How about the IBOM aka Ionizing Brownout Mitigation System or the abbreviation for National Museum of American History – NMAH (pronounced enema).  One of my favorites is the RHQDAPU – Reporting Hospital Quality Data for Annual Payment Update pronounced rack-da-poo.

GSA has a list of most used procurement acronyms so you can familiarize yourself with them.  In the meantime here are a few of the most common procurement acronyms…

BPA- Blanket Purchase Agreement

IDIQ- Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity

POC-  Point of Contact

CO- Contracting Officer

BOA- Basis of Award

If you have a favorite, leave a comments with yours!

Not to be outdone or left behind, we here at isiFederal have a few of our own…

Isi- Integrated Solutions Initiative (sounds government-esk right?)

LIMRIC™- Leverage (relationships), Influence (the process), Monitor (for winnable opportunities), Respond, Improve, Capture

The acronym I know of and my very favorite is WIN. That stands for WIN.  Pronounced WIN, aka in your face, oh yeah baby, success and show me the money!  (Couldn’t resist) Seriously, agree that WIN is your favorite acronym and you want to get in or enhance your federal sales, call 888-9-GET-isi.

Identify Your REAL Position

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting by David Lowe Leave a comment

Have you read Strategic Selling by Miller Heiman?  This book and process helps you understand complex sales and how to gauge your position in an account. By using red flags for everything that you don’t know, you can gain insight on how to move your company into a better position in a given opportunity.  Whether you use Strategic Selling or some other method, make sure you are honest with yourself about your position. Here are a few questions to answer…

1) Have you identified all of the influencers?

2) What do each of the influencers think of your solution?

3) Which influencer favors your competition?

4) Have you provided information that is appearing in the scope?

Important– As you start to analyze your position, be honest about the holes, otherwise you will probably fall into one. Don’t ignore anything that is a potential negative. If you are honest with yourself, you will be much more capable of adjusting your approach or deciding whether you should even bid at all.

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