I just returned from a great trip to Oklahoma City where I had an opportunity to facilitate three of "The ASBCs of Government Contracting™" industry education and market intelligence sessions for our friends at MAGIC (Mid-America Government Industry Coalition). I discussed finding and winning open market and stand-alone contract opportunities that currently account for over half of the FY13 governmentwide spend, buys made using Simplified Acquisition Procedures (SAP) and effective market research in the spirit of our "Ethical Stalking for Government Contractors™" program. Upon my return, my media monitoring program presented me with "the press release." This 'piece' was issued on August 9th and is full of the buzz words and enticing generalizations designed to lure companies to potentially acquire something fashionable, but not always helpful or relevant in the context of growing business in the federal sector.
The tone of the release is set with "As small businesses continue to struggle in a tough economy..." and "...without a GSA Schedule contract, small businesses are at a disadvantage." The fact the organization behind the release talks about 'small businesses turning to government contracts and specifically the GSA Schedule to increase their profits' indicates the information they have related to current and prospective small federal contractors and the current state of the industry might be a bit outdated.
The organization goes on to stipulate "Holding a GSA Schedule is the most direct way to lower barriers of
entry into the federal marketplace. It provides vendors with the
preferred tool that the government wants to use to make purchases." That coupled with "Vendors who have done business with the government in the past are
being urged by government buyers to 'get on a Schedule' to continue to
sell to the federal government." absolutely irks me because it is truthful to a point and misleading.
Some buyers and non-procurement related representatives of the federal government are telling vendors to go out and acquire the GSA Schedule, but not always in the context readers of this press release would likely infer. Some of them make these statements in the same manner as a customer service rep reading from a script, with no real substance. Information espoused this way is akin to yelling "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater. The hurt occurs when companies pursue the "advice" and get hooked up with a firm (possibly like the one issuing the referenced press release) that is solely focused on selling them a GSA Schedule. Helping small businesses get awarded government work is more often an after-thought for them, if a thought at all. Many of these boutique firms never take the time to inform or educate their clients as to why one of the available GSA Schedules may or may not be useful to their growth strategies based on offering, agency alignment, planned approach, etc. Funny how this company never mentions the total number of companies who have a "zero" for total GSA Schedule sales or how many of their 1,336 clients have zero dollars sales. What about the number of companies (small, medium and large) who have had GSA cancel their schedules for not meeting the minimum required sales in the allotted time?
This company also makes reference to "over $40 billion in 2012" awarded against the GSA Schedule (for the record, GSA reports $37.4 billion for FY12 in their Schedule Sales Query Online Report System) and then has the gall to cite "With 23 percent of all government expenditures federally mandated to be
made with small businesses, becoming a certified vendor for government
buyers can prove extremely valuable in increased sales and revenue." I won't even get started down the road of the 23 percent goal, but I'm still curious about out how getting awarded a GSA Schedule conveys "certified vendor" status to a company. Who exactly issues this certification referenced in their shameless self-promotion? Not GSA. Maybe it's the boutique GSA and Government Procurement Marketing firm in Washington, DC that issued the press release.
While a GSA Schedule may be a viable approach for some companies, "There's a sucker born every minute!" seems to be the hope of the company behind the press release.
Peace.The Chief Visionary
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."