Should I apply for an MAS contract?
Getting on schedule can take significant time and effort to complete. It is recommended that potential bidders understand the government marketplace for their products and services, and consider whether the price and service level they can offer will be competitive. Additionally, the bidder should understand what will be required to make sales once the schedule is awarded, what will be required to maintain the contract, and whether they are prepared to expend resources reviewing opportunities and preparing bids.
Prior to being awarded a contract, a representative of your organization must complete the Pathway to Success and Vendor Toolbox training. Both of these webinars are intended to help bidders understand the MAS contract process before applying for a contract.
Understanding the MAS Marketplace
The Federal Government buys a wide variety of products and services. These are divided into broad categories called "Schedules." Contractors are awarded a contract under an individual schedule. Each schedule is subdivided into "Special Item Numbers" (SINs), which represent categories of product or service within each schedule. Contractors can hold multiple SINs under the same contract, as long as the SINs all fall under the same schedule. In other words, if you are awarded a contract under the IT schedule, you can request as many IT-related SINs as you would like; however, you cannot add furniture-related SINs, as those apply only to the furniture schedule. You can review the available schedules and SINs at GSA eLibrary
. Contractors are required to post a catalog of their products and services to GSA Advantage! which is then available for agencies to view and purchase from. Additionally, contractors are granted access to eBuy, an electronic Request for Quotes tool also used by customer agencies. Note: One contractor may also hold multiple MAS contracts as long as they fit the within the schedule definition.
What to Expect After Submitting a Proposal
GSA's offer review process usually takes at least 30 to 120 days; however, that time frame varies considerably based on several factors. The process will not take less than that time, but may take longer. A complete and accurate offer will help speed the process - a majority of offers are returned to the vendor for correction or clarification. The review is handled by a GSA Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO), who evaluates the offer based on several criteria. Once the PCO completes a review of the offer, if necessary, a meeting will be scheduled to discuss terms and negotiate pricing. If additional information is needed prior to awarding a contract, the PCO will explain what is needed. After negotiations, you must prepare a final version of your offer, including discounts or concessions agreed upon at the meeting. If the offer is accepted, you will receive a Schedules contract and will be eligible to start doing business with the government through the Schedules program.
There are a number of consultants offering their services to assist bidders apply for a contract. Whether or not you use a consultant is a business decision for each company to make. These consultants can offer expertise and experience, which may be beneficial. However, there is nothing a consultant can do that you can't; therefore, the decision to hire a consultant should be about resources and expertise. Regardless of whether or not you hire a consultant, managing the contract requires knowledge of the benefits and requirements of the MAS program, and the best way to learn about your new procurement vehicle is to be heavily involved in the application process. Please note that GSA does not endorse the use of any particular consultant.
Potential offerors should consider the costs involved in getting and maintaining a contract before making the final decision on whether or not to apply. The costs involved will be primarily related to administrative time and effort for your staff to read material, negotiate with Contracting Officers, create and revise documents, review potential opportunities, prepare quotes, submit sales reports, etc. There are many tasks involved that, while free, can occupy considerable time. Actual monetary costs are minimal depending on the contractor's situation; for example, if you do not already have a digital certificate, you will be required to purchase one to submit your offer. Some contractors opt to use consultants to prepare and submit offers on their behalf, which would result in additional fees to those private companies. Finally, your company will be required to apply for a DUNS number and must register on www.sam.gov
; however, it should be noted that both are free. Beware of scams that claim a fee for registering for either resource.
How to apply
The first step in applying for a MAS contract is to submit a Readiness Assessment. This process will help you ensure you are making a decision that is best for you and your company.
Potential vendors who are ready to submit a proposal for a MAS contract should take the Readiness Assessment through the Vendor Education Center. You will be redirected to a ".com" website and asked to register. (There is no cost for the Readiness Assessment)
Potential vendors who wish to browse without registering, can review the information in the Vendor Toolbox and Readiness Assessment here. This information is provided for reference and education, however to submit a proposal potential vendors should use the Readiness Assessment link in the previous paragraph.
Where to go for help
The Vendor Toolbox, linked above, will help answer many questions you might have about the process and the program. However, if you find that you need additional help in responding to your solicitation, you can access a community of GSA experts and peers through GSA Interact
, GSA's YouTube channel
or the Federally sponsored Procurement Technical Assistance Program