The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is a centralized cog that facilitates the contract process with government agencies. If your company has an interest in securing government contracts, the GSA offers a variety of services to help you with your task. They have streamlined the process through the use of electronic programs, such as the Information Technology Solutions Shop (ITSS).
Established in 1949, the GSA originated as a way for the federal government to consolidate the requirements of purchasing agencies in order to cut costs and avoid duplication. Originally, the GSA dealt with office space, supplies, and services; but they have since added office furnishings, travel and moving, motor pools, general supplies, telephones and computers, support services, and technical expertise to their business. To better serve the needs of the many different federal agencies, the GSA has been divided into two services: Public Buildings Services (PBS) and Federal Acquisitions Services (FAS).
The GSA’s central headquarters are located in Washington, D.C. In addition, the GSA operates 11 regional organizations throughout the country that provide direct support to the local offices of government agencies and military bases. The GSA Web site contains all of the contact information for each of the 11 regional organizations as well as an immense amount of useful information relating to the GSA and government contracts.
The GSA has set up an interface called the Information Technology Solutions Shop (ITSS) to facilitate the government contracting process. Businesses first register at the ITSS Web site. As requests for quotes come in to the GSA, the GSA Customer Service Representative (CSR) notifies all of the registered contractors and vendors who meet the criteria of the contract and asks for a Request for Quote (RFQ). For more information on Request for Quotes, see Responding to a Request for Proposal.
The ITSS system automatically notifies you via e-mail whenever a request comes up whose criteria meet the qualifications detailed in your company’s registration. All of the information that you need to make the quote is detailed in the e-mail, making your job that much easier.
The GSA’s ITSS system supports companies involved in the government contracting process. The areas of ITSS support include:
- Equipment Acquisitions
- Communication Systems
- Project Management
- Financial Management Systems
- Internet Development and Support
Part 2 of the Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) defines Government-wide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) as tasks or delivery order contracts intended for Information Technology (IT). Each GWAC operates under the power of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) pursuant to section 5112(e) of the Clinger-Cohen Act.
Individual government agencies set up GWACs for widespread use by other agencies. An agency receives the authority to use a GWAC by obtaining a delegation of authority from the GWAC Program Office. The agency can then purchase hardware, software, and services through the GWAC, using the GSA’s ITSS system that provides agencies with both Solutions-based GWACs and Specialty GWACs that can be tailored to meet the needs of each agency. An example of a GWAC is a HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone). For more information, read What Is the SBA Hubzone Program?
As a small business pursuing government contracts, the GSA and its Informational Technology Solutions Shop offer the ideal place to obtain information about agencies seeking goods and services. By registering and working with the GSA, you are notified regarding potential contracts that come under your type of business. You can also sign up for newsletters that give you updates and training sessions that walk you through the many aspects of government contracts. It becomes one more tool to help your business succeed.