Every day, state and local government officials make difficult decisions that impact the lives of citizens across the country. From balancing budgets to ensuring public safety throughout their localities, these leaders are constantly tasked with meeting the needs of their communities.
The General Service Administration (GSA) Schedule contracts have played a significant role in helping federal agencies streamline purchases. As the primary contracting agency for the United States federal government, GSA is responsible for procuring goods and services on behalf of other government agencies, cutting down on tedious vetting and bidding processes.
While they are most commonly associated with the federal government, GSA Schedule contracts can also benefit state and local governments through its Cooperative Purchasing Program. In addition to giving GSA Schedule contractors a larger market, the Cooperative Purchasing Program gives state and local governments easy access to a wide range of products and services.
How Does the Cooperative Purchasing Program Benefit State and Local Government Entities?
State and local governments can procure essential goods and services through the GSA Cooperative Purchasing Program. These include IT and software related products and services for the public safety workforce. The Cooperative Purchasing Program provides an efficient, convenient way for state and local government entities to access the same high-quality goods and services available to federal agencies. In addition to the convenience of a single point of contact for procurement, state and local governments gain the following advantages when they manage procurement through the GSA:
Streamlined Procurement Processes
GSA's cooperative purchasing program enables state and local government entities to avoid the competitive bidding process by making use of the GSA's existing contracts with private suppliers. By working with a GSA Schedule contractor, state and local government officials can avoid the time-consuming process of soliciting bids and proposals. Furthermore, since GSA contracts have negotiated discounted pricing of products or services, participating state and local governments receive the pricing benefits.
This program features four blanket purchase agreements (BPAs). BPAs provide several benefits for government entities and vendors alike. This includes a streamlined procurement process for items and services that are expected to be used often. By eliminating the long contract award process, government entities can now make purchases more quickly, and suppliers can skip the tedious proposal drafting that is traditionally necessary.
Wide Range of Products and Services
The Cooperative Purchasing Program gives state and local governments access to a wide range of products and services. This can be especially beneficial for small government entities that may not have the resources to solicit bids from multiple vendors. For example, a small town might not have the staff or timespan needed to generate a request for proposal (RFP) for new technology. However, by working with a GSA Schedule contractor, the town can take advantage of GSA's existing contracts to get the products and services it needs.
Reduced Administrative Burden
The GSA Schedule contractor is responsible for managing the administrative aspects of the contract. This can help free up staff time for other tasks and reduce the administrative burden on government officials. In addition, the GSA Schedule contractor can provide training to state and local government officials on how to use the contract, helping them learn about the products and services offered, how to purchase them, and how to make the best use of the program and its tools.
The GSA Cooperative Purchasing Program is voluntary, and there is no charge to enroll. The initiative is open to state and local government organizations that register on GSA's website. Registered entities can access the GSA database of available contracts and place orders directly with suppliers.
What Is the Process to Order MAS Information Technology?
State and local government entities can make purchases with eBuy, GSA Advantage!, or through an RFI or an RFQ. that suppliers reply to with their specifications and bids. Ordering goods and services from the GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) is a standard procedure. State and local government must use their own procurement processes if relevant and adhere to their own organization's purchase policies.
To place an order, the company must first conduct a formative evaluation and then follow the steps listed below. The ordering process will be influenced by whether a statement of work (SOW) is necessary. For orders that don't require a SOW, all supply and fixed-price service work must follow processes outlined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). For orders that require an SOW, all processes for hourly-based services are outlined in the FAR as well.
- S&L organizations conduct research utilizing the following resources:
- GSA Advantage! is available to assist with the identification of technology goods and services.
- Industry partners’ catalogs or pricing lists might provide information on delivery areas, environmental features, and warranties.
- The GSA eLibrary can assist entities with proposal review, contract terms and clauses, socioeconomic factors, and EPLS status. Entities may also use it to track down a source in a certain area. When it comes to contract awards, the official GSA eLibrary is the best place to go.
- Agencies use the eBuy template to construct an RFI or RFQ and send it out to prospective vendors.
- Organization analyze the returned feedback. In the case of an RFI, the organization must ascertain whether suppliers are available before moving into an RFQ and considering quotes. State and local government agencies may use GSA eLibrary to find out more about a company's partners and their contracts.
- Finally, the agency awards the project using a paperless contracting system or other eBuy tools.
What Rules Govern State and Local Agency Access to the GSA MAS?
Federal law and regulations control access to the unified MAS schedule and legacy schedules. Regulations governing the purchase of goods and services are established by state and local governments, as well as the funding agency. For orders issued under the MAS, the GSA dictates ordering language but does not create procedures or limits (such as mandatory set-asides, geographic limitations, or competition levels) or regulate how state and local governments execute a purchase. Other federal agencies' criteria are not within the view of GSA. As a rule, the agency that delivers a grant (for example, FEMA or HHS) establishes procurement guidelines.
GSA Supports Local and State Government Agencies
The General Service Administration (GSA) Schedule contracts play an important role in ensuring that federal, state and local governments remain strong and successful in today's rapidly evolving digital world. Officials can save time and money by avoiding the laborious bidding process, which can often take years.
If your state or local government agency is looking for ways to streamline its procurement process, consider working with GSA Schedule contractors. The Cooperative Purchasing Program can provide you with access to a wide range of products and services while helping you avoid the time-consuming process of soliciting bids.
To learn more about Orion’s GSA contract, visit our GSA Schedule page.