Last week, General Services Administrator Denise Turner Roth announced the launch of the agencies newest initiative, “Making It Easier.” In order to stay relevant, the GSA has updated its systems for businesses buying through IT Schedule 70, the government’s largest IT contract vehicle. The feature initiative of “MIE” is to provide a means of adding younger companies that have not met the two-year professional experience requirements.
In order to test if these services are in fact easier, Eastern Foundry recruited supreme intern Sam to gauge if one of these new tools has simplified the process. We also had Sam highlight the features of the rest of the tools so you can get a grasp on the program as a whole. Sam has never used any of these tools, so he will be providing a fresh outlook as if he were a young entrepreneur looking to win his first contract.
Sleek, new, and efficient, the GSA now provides a forecasting tool. The tool helps small businesses find contracting opportunities that work best for them. With detailed filters and comprehensive search results the tool offers a swift and efficient way for small contractors to find profitable contracts.
I’ve had minor experience with government run websites, and my overall impressions usually land on mediocre. I try to actively avoid them when I’m able. So when I was told to test-run a “GSA forecast program” you can imagine the glee in my heart. A government run website for government contracting already sounded intimidating, especially to someone like me, new to the entire contracting industry. Before diving into the program, I expected a run of the mill experience: boring off-white colors, small text, broken links, confusing navigation and the always aesthetically appealing 300x300 pixelated agency logo. So I reluctantly dropped the URL into the address bar and hit enter. As I prepped for the energy to be drained from my body with the embrace of a clunky government website, I landed on the homepage and did a double take. The website actually looked really nice. I could immediately tell that the GSA stepped up and broke the mold of government websites. There was a clean design with a minimal but vibrant color scheme of whites and blues. It also immediately displayed potential contracts on the right. Overall, the website actually looks really modern and organized, the important thing to note here is I was not mentally turned away.
I was not terrified in my venture to explore contract opportunities either. The tool itself feels similar to how a Google search does. When you start your search it can offer suggestions and updates the results in real time as you type. I was able to add in filters like women-owned or veteran-owned, I could get as specific as I liked. The socioeconomic filters seemed very comprehensive and I was able to compile those filters with others like minimum/maximum award, status of the contract, location and others. Despite not knowing what I was doing or looking for when coming in, the tool is very straightforward and helped guide me through each step of making a fast and efficient search. I could only imagine how intuitive it would feel if I had a specific goal in mind.
The new GSA’s forecasting tool ultimately shattered my expectations and provided an effective search experience. I think this program will be an awesome tool for any size contracting business and will help bring more opportunities to specialized small business owners in a simple and quick method.
This tool provides faster processing times for small business suppliers with emerging and innovative technologies. This helps the government find new untapped innovation and small businesses become suppliers. Features include:
-48-hour contract modifications
-As quick as 45 days for new offers
-quick review by GSA contracting officers
-businesses are expected to respond quickly to GSA contracting officers
The Startup Springboard
Major changes have been made to IT Schedule 70’s contractor requirements to allow innovative technology suppliers with less than two years of experience to sell to the government.
This initiative now allows these young companies to:
- Use the professional experience of their executives and key personnel as a substitute for having two years of corporate experience.
- Use the project experience of key personnel as a substitute for having relevant corporate past performance.
- Provide financial documentation that demonstrates the company's financial responsibility in lieu of submitting two years of financial statements.
The springboard opens up an over 15 billion dollar pool for federal, state and local level tech opportunities.
The Plain Language Roadmap
A simple guide that helps entrepreneurs submit an offer to IT Schedule 70. It outlines the steps clearly so that even a greenhorn business can get started in contracting. With a clear and concise timeline of events, split into three sections. Get Ready, Assemble Your Offer, and Finalize Your Offer. The roadmap allows entrepreneurs to set short-term goals which are often easier to complete rather than a long-term goal that is 18 months out.
MAS (multiple award schedule contractors) Welcome Package
Specifically for MAS contractors who want to expand their profile.
The welcome package provides a singular location which has consistent industry information about contracts, awards and news. Complete with checklists, time sensitive guidance, and training courses, the welcome package will help businesses achieve success right from the beginning.
The GSA MIE initiative has the potential to become a go-to resource of government contracting for small businesses. Providing for the first time a bundle of information and tools translated into simple terms for government contractors to propel their businesses forward. The push to make government procurement more desirable to small businesses is a push in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how these programs affect the rate of small businesses seeking contracts in the long-run. Hopefully, the success of MIE brings an increased awareness to the current issues resulting in more government agencies pursuing a simplified and open contracting process.
Dan is the Communications Associate at Eastern Foundry