The Open Ratings Report is a summary of a survey of the company’s customers conducted by Dunn and Bradstreet. The Open Ratings Report is part of the application process for a GSA schedule. GSA requires this survey from a minium of 4 to maxium of 20 customer references. The results of the Open Ratings survey indicate where the company’s overall performance falls in comparison to related industry groups. The report provides a breakdown of survey responses rated on a 0-10 scale for each question. A customer reference is  a person or company that has purchased products or services from the company. Vendor references are excluded from the survey. Dunn and Bradstreet sends a questionaire to the company referencesasking them to rate the company’s past performance. The survey covers overall performance, reliabilirt, cost, order accuracy, delivery/timeless, quality, business relations, personnel, customer support and responsiveness. GSA will only select the companies with a score of 9.0 and above.

The Open Rating Report should be part of the company’s marketing tool box. Depending on the score, the company should let all customer prospects see the report. Federal contracting officers are very interested in a company’s past performance and the the Open Ratings Report provides a snap shot. Companies interested in doing business with government should consider using this Dunn and Bradshreet tool regardless of applying for the GSA schedule.

Click here to download a sample Open Ratings report.

Step 7 involves considering obtaining an interagency contract vehicles. The most popular contract vehicle is the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS). The major benefit for getting an FSS schedule or any other contract vehicles is that it streamlines the procurement process and the in the case of the FSS, contracting officers only needs telephone quotes to award a federal contract. The companies with contracting vehicles are pre qualified to do business with the government. The company that has an FSS or other interagency contract vehicles has pre-negotiated for their prices, terms and conditions. These contract vehicles are a license to hunt and require a marketing plan to target the agency contracting offices (Download: See Sample Target Agency Contracting Office Report #2) who buy the company’s products and services. A federal marketing plan will ensure the opportunity to get a government contract. (Download: Sample FMP #1).

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) defines an interagency or multi-agency contract as a task order or delivery-order contract by one agency for use by other agencies to obtain supplies and services, consistent with the Economic Act of 1932. These types of contracts are classified as indefinite order-indefinite delivery contracts. In FY 2004, the Federal Procurement Data Center (FPDS) reported that interagency contract spend was $142 Billion and non-interagency contract spend was $210 Billion. The Congressional Research Service in their report title Interagency Contracting: An overview of Federal Procurement and Appropriations Law states “Interagency contracting can occur under several different statutory authorities, including (1) the Economy Act of 1932; (2) the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996, also known as the Clinger-Cohen Act, authorizing government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs); (3) the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act of 1974, underlying the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS), also known as the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedules or Multiple Award Schedules (MAS); and (4) the Government Management Reform Act and other authorities creating franchise funds and interagency assisting entities. Unlike multi-agency contracts, GWACs and the FSS, franchise funds and interagency assisting entities are not themselves contracting vehicles, but they play a prominent role in interagency contracting”.

Multi-Agency Contracts, Government Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), GSA schedule, and Enterprise-wide Contract Vehicles are discussed in this document.

Multi-Agency contracts that are governed by the Economy Act require a written Determination and Finding (D&F) document approved by its contracting officer or by an authorized official. The established ordering procedures includes include: a) customer agency submits a requirements package, including necessary funding and fees, to the host agency contracting officer; b) the host agency contracting officer requests price/cost and technical proposals from contractors in the program; c) customer and contracting officer evaluate proposals and make a best value determination; d) the host agency contracting officer awards a task/delivery order to the winning vendor; and e) the order is jointly administered by the host agency contracting officer and the customer agency’s technical managers. The solicitation and evaluation of proposals for task/delivery orders must be consistent with the fair opportunity requirement of FAR 16.505(b)(1).

Government wide Acquisition Contracts (“GWACs”) are a subset of multi-agency contracts. However, unlike non-GWAC multi-agency contracts, they are not subject to the requirements and limitations of the Economy Act. The FAR defines a GWAC as–A task-order or delivery-order contract for information technology established by one agency for Government wide use that is operated— (1) By an executive agent designated by the Office of Management and Budget (2) Under a delegation of procurement authority issued by the General Services Administration (GSA). The total volume of assisted acquisitions by GWAC in FY 2009 was $2.9 Billion.

The General Services Administration (GSA) manages Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts, also known as Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts. Under MAS/FSS including Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), contracts are awarded to multiple companies supplying comparable products and services at pre-negotiated prices, terms and conditions. Federal contracting officers and other authorized users order directly from the company. Contracting officers may conduct set-asides using MAS/FSS contracts.

The ordering procedures for FSS purchases include: a.) Order is within the micro-purchase threshold ($3000) – There is no need to solicit offers from a specific number of Schedule contractors for supplies & services not priced at hourly rates. Agencies are encouraged to distribute orders among eligible contractors. For services priced at hourly rates, there is no need to solicit offers from a specific number of Schedule contractors, but agencies should attempt to distribute orders among eligible contractors; b.) For orders above the mirco-purchase, but threshold but below maximum order threshold-purchase threshold – The order must be placed with the contractor that can provide the best value. Before placing the order, the ordering agency must consider reasonably available information about the goods or services by surveying at least three Schedule contractors. When the order includes brand name specifications, the ordering agency must post a Request for Quotations (RFQ), along with the justification required under 48 C.F.R. § 8.405-6. For services priced at hourly rates – The ordering agency must develop a statement of work (SOW) and provide a Request for Quotations (RFQ), including this SOW and evaluation criteria, to at least three Schedule contractors offering services meeting the agency’s needs, requesting that these contractors submit firm fixed prices to perform the services in the SOW;

For orders above maximum order threshold – The ordering agency must seek a further price reduction from the vendor. Before doing this, agency must review price lists from additional Schedule contractors; seek price reductions from those considered best value; and place the order with the contractor that provides best value. The agency must also document: the contracts considered; the contractor from whom the purchase was made; the goods or services purchased; and the amount paid. For services priced at hourly rates-The ordering agency must provide the RFQ to an “appropriate number” of additional Schedule contractors offering services that could meet the agency needs, with the “appropriate number” being determined by the complexity, scope and value of the requirement, as well as findings from market research. The agency must then seek price reductions from these contractors. . The GSA has prepared a matrix (download: PSC Matrix for Active GSA Schedules and GSA GWACs) containing corresponding NAICS and PSC codes with GSA schedules in order to help companies select the right schedule.

The application process for the MAS/FSS schedule includes an evaluation process completed by Open Ratings for Dunn and Bradstreet. Open Ratings conducts survey of your designated customers. Results (see sample report) from the Open Ratings survey indicate where the company’s performance ratings falls in comparison to rated companies in your SIC/NAICS group. The Open Rating report is a good marketing tool. Many federal purchases are, in fact, orders made against MAS/FSS contracts. As of October 2006, of the 17,862 Schedule contracts, about 81 percent were awarded to small businesses. Small business received 37.6 percent or $13.2 billion of the $35.1 billion As of FY 2010 Active MAS contracts were 19,612 of which 79.75 % were small business. Congress has expanded the use of FSS by authorizing state and local governments to purchase goods and services from it in certain circumstances. Some state governments have created their own version of the FSS. Many companies can prequalify for the state FSS if they have a GSA MAS/FSS.

Enterprise-wide contract vehicles are intra-agency Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quaintly (IDIQ) established specifically for use by an agency’s departments. The SeaPort-e program administered by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is an example of this type of contract vehicle. SeaPort-e is the Navy’s electronic platform for acquiring support services in 22 functional areas including Engineering, Financial Management, and Program Management.  The Seaport-e contract vehicle has over 1300 companies. The Navy estimates that over $5 Billion worth of contracts will be placed on Seaport-e in FY13.

The benefits of obtaining a contract vehicle are 1) Government contractor is prequalified to do business with government agency; 2) Purchasing process is streamline and 3) In most cases contracting officer only needs three quotes to comply with ordering procedures. A marketing plan that includes list of target agency contracting offices and a call log will position the company to get government contracts without competing in the open market.

The most common questions we hear from entrepreneurs who want to do business with the federal government are, “Do I really need a federal marketing plan? Is writing a federal marketing plan really the best use of my time?” Our answer to these questions is almost always, “Yes.”

In reality, federal marketing plans do take a long time to write, require that you have a tremendous amount of data at your fingertips, depend in part on projections, and often are responsible for creating a long list of research you still need to conduct and other work you need to complete.

But despite all of that, federal marketing plans are one of the most effective tools for the business owner/operator who is starting or growing their business with the federal government.

Here is what we consider the most important reasons for having a federal marketing plan:

• A Federal Marketing Plan is Simply a Must-Have for Some Businesses
• A Federal Marketing Plan Helps You Make Decisions
• A Federal Marketing Plan Can Be a Reality Check
• A Federal Marketing Plan Can Give You New Ideas
• A Federal Marketing Plan Creates an Action Plan

Your company should have a Federal Marketing Plan (FMP) if your company is doing business or planning to do business with the Federal Government. Our FMP helps companies target market their goods and services to the right agency contracting office location after first answering the basic question of does the federal government even buy your company’s products and/or services. Your Federal Marketing Plan will be a unique and customized resultants-driven solution for your company to make effective and successful communication to profitably market your products/services to the federal government.

Because of our ability to make the complex easy to understand; you’ll have the information you need to make effective, successful and measurable direct government marketing decisions. Your FMP will have current data from disparate data sources like government contract histories and other federal data sets that would identify predetermined groups, logical relationships, associations and anticipated behavior patterns that would determine the type of contracts used to purchase your goods or services. With that information you’d be able to create your own unique key performance indicators of marketing success and execute a profit-driven government marketing campaign. In the end, we deliver current and relevant insights – rather than just producing tables and graphs. We analyze the massive $500BN government contract data specifically for our clients’ to target a market in the government. And because everyone uses their results in different ways, we design our reports specifically for each client’s particular needs.

Click here to download our sample Federal Marketing Plan.

We work with you as a partner and encourage your feedback during every step; from goal setting, through methods selection, to the final reports and marketing plan. We are effective and comfortable working with business owners, senior executives, marketing departments, non-profit committees, advertising, public relations and marketing firms or any other stakeholder in the project/company.

Call us at 469-814–8457 x100 for a free initial consultation and assessment. Please have your company’s NAICS and PSC codes available when you call.

Click here to download our sample Federal Marketing Plan.

Interagency contracting has been recognized as one of the fastest growing fields in federal acquisition. In Fiscal Year 2006, the two leading programs, the Federal Supply Schedules Program and the GSA’s Government-wide Acquisition Contracts (“GWACs”) provided over $46 billion of supplies and services to federal agencies (GSA-managed Schedules: $35.1 billion; VA-managed Schedules: projected to be well over $8 billion [FY 2005 sales were $7.9 billion]; GSA GWACs: $3.0 billion). These and other interagency contract vehicles, offered by other federal agencies under GWAC or multi-agency contract authorities, have been gaining increasing popularity due to the ease of use associated with streamlined ordering and the apparent value afforded by volume purchasing. Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation (“FPDS-NG”), in its first year of reporting the spending under interagency contract vehicles, shows that 40 percent of total fiscal year 2004 obligations, or $142 billion, was spent on these vehicles.

Click here to download Interagency Contracting sample report.

In addition to the matching of NAICS codes to each GSA schedule, we now have the Product Supply Codes. The PSC is a four diget code that decribes products purchased buy the United States Government. The NAICS is a 2 to 6 diget code that describes an industry. The NAICS is used by the United Nations to track economic statistics world wide. Open the link below to see the codes and GSA schedules.

Download PSC Matrix for Active GSA Schedules and GSA GWACs Report Sample

GSA has matched NAICS codes with their Schedules. It is now much easier to find the right schedule for your company. The GSA Schedule is the most widly used contract vehicle in the United States Government. Many state governments also use these contract vehicles. The addition of a GSA Schedule to the company’s tool box is a very effective way to get federal contracts. In most cases, the contracting officer only needs two telephone quotes to award a contract.

Download a copy of NAICS-FSS Master sample report

DoD, GSA, and NASA have adopted as final, with changes, the interim rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement a section of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 that clarifies that there is no order of precedence among the small business socioeconomic contracting programs. Accordingly, this final rule amends the FAR to clarify the existence of socioeconomic parity and that contracting officers may exercise discretion when determining whether an acquisition will be restricted to small businesses participating in the 8(a) Business Development Program (8(a)), Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Program, Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program, or the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB)

Click here to download Federal Register/Vol. 77. No. 42/Friday, March 2, 2012/Rules and Regulations