Get to know the GSA

Don’t forget to watch our webinar on Get to know the for Canadian businesses.

The U.S. General Service Administration (GSA) is an important U.S. government agency. Not only does it procure supplies, tools, and equipment for U.S. federal purchasers, it helps state and local governments acquire law enforcement, firefighting, rescue, and disaster recovery products and services.

In addition to its procurement responsibilities, the GSA manages the Integrated Award Environment (IAE), a government-wide initiative administered by GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). The IAE is designed to consolidate, manage, and improve the wide array of systems used for awarding and managing federal grants, contracts, and intergovernmental transactions, including the System for Award Management ( which is used to register businesses, list government contract opportunities, and more.

In this webinar, receive more information about the role of the GSA and how to use

If you want to sell directly to the US government (prime contractor), here are a few things you must have before starting to bid on any tender opportunities:

  • A registration. SAM is the U.S. government e-procurement system for award management.
  • A Unique Entity Identifier (UEI). If your entity is already registered in, your UEI is located on your entity registration record.
  • An NAICS code. The NAICS code is not only for you to find work, but also for government officials to find you. A company can have multiple NAICS codes, but you must pick one of which you want your primary code to be because that’s how GSA determines your size (see below).
  • Size standard, which is usually stated in number of employees or average annual receipts, represents the largest size that a business (including its subsidiaries and affiliates) may be. In general, companies operating internationally are considered other-than-small businesses, regardless of their size. However, if they partner with a small U.S. company or have an operation in the U.S. that makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials, or labor, they may be counted as small.

More information about each of these bullets is discussed below.

This webinar was presented by the team at GSA’s Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). This group provides information on how to do business or obtain contracts with the U.S. federal government, advocates for small businesses, and acts as the front door of GSA’s business community. At the regional level, it acts as a liaison for agencies looking for resources or who have issues, and small business administration agencies that may be looking for subcontractors.

If you (including Canadian businesses) have an inquiry about doing business with GSA, you can contact the OSDBU office nearest you, or the OSDBU office nearest the opportunity you are looking to learn about. If they can’t give you the information, they will point you to the people or the program management office that can also help you. You can find information about the offices at

Here are some additional OSDBU resources:

The General Services Agency (GSA) is a very large buying entity that touches over one-third of the trillions of dollars spent by the U.S. federal government each year. As a contracting agency, the GSA offers great opportunities, and depends on the support of Canadian businesses to supports its mandates.

There are two major organizations within GSA – the Public Building Service and the Federal Acquisition Service. The Public Building Service (PBS) provides real estate space, architecture, interior design, and construction to federal agencies. It is also the federal landlord and provides the space and the office space for almost all the federal agencies in federal buildings. In total, the organizations own 8,800 assets and has more than 370 million square feet of workspace.

The Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) delivers a vast number of commercial goods and services and manages the agency’s vehicle fleets. It also manages the Technology Transformation Fund, which is a think tank of high-tech individuals who look at the technology needed for future endeavors. This may include anything from the cloud to AI.

The GSA Schedule Program establishes long-term government wide contracts with commercial firms for supplies and services at pre-negotiated prices. Vendors can negotiate a contract to get on the GSA Schedule and then market the contract as a tool to all government agencies. The GSA Schedule uses several contracting options including:
  • GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS), also known as Federal Supply Schedule, is awarded to multiple vendors with similar products or services to allow more choice for government buyers. When a business has a MAS contract, it can sell to any government agency with one source instead of having separate contracts with each agency.
  • Single Award Schedule (SAS) – These generally include one supplier for items manufactured under Federal Military Specifications or Commercial Item Specific Geographic area. SASs are awarded because of sealed bidding.
  • Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) – These are task order or delivery order contracts for information technology established by one agency for government-wide use.
IDIQ contracts

Contracts are often awarded as Indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts. They provide for an indefinite quantity of services for a fixed time when the GSA can’t determine the precise quantities of supplies or services that the government will require during the contract period. Awards are usually for base years and option years.

The government places delivery orders (for supplies) or task orders (for services) against a basic contract for individual requirements. Minimum and maximum quantity limits are specified in the basic contract as either number of units (for supplies) or as dollar values (for services).



Eligibility and application considerations

The GSA Schedule Program is open to international (including Canadian) and American companies, but it doesn’t guarantee sales, only access and opportunities to a restricted database of opportunities. A GSA schedule is not mandatory to do business with the U.S. government. Agencies can contract directly with companies, but most prefer to use existing contracts because it is faster, saves time and provides a price list.

The GSA Schedule application process can be costly, time consuming and require a considerable amount of paperwork. Some contractors hire consultants to help prepare and negotiate their GSA offer. It is important to be prepared, educated about the rules, understand the consequences of the rules, research your firm’s price offering and competitiveness.

Once you are on the GSA Schedule you will need to continue marketing your business. Changes in pricing must be reported to GSA and if your price increased, you won’t be able to increase your federal price.

There are 12 categories now in which GSA has pooled its products for multiple awards schedule (MAS) contracting: Facilities, Furniture and furnishings, Human capital, Industrial products and services, Information technology, Miscellaneous, Office management, Professional services, Scientific management and solutions, Security and protection, Transportation and logistics services and Travel. Within each major category there are sub-categories and a company would fit under one of those.

You must achieve $100,000 in sales within the first five years and $125,000 each five-year period thereafter. Your efforts to market your MAS contract generate your sales. Use tools such as and eBuy to proactively pursue opportunities.

The normal MAS contract period can vary between six and 12 months, provided that the firm meets all evaluation criteria and has successful negotiation. If you are providing an advanced product or technology, there may be options that will allow you to expedite the procurement process.

The MAS Program provides a roadmap to get a MAS contract. Steps include:

  • Decide if getting a Multiple Award Schedule contract is in your best interest
  • Do a readiness assessment
  • Read the entire MAS solicitation
  • Review the new offeror checklist which summarizes the minimum requirements for submission.
  • Complete required registrations including SAM and UEI. Also register for eOffer, which you’ll use to submit your offer and accept modifications. You’ll get a FAS ID as part of the registration process.
  • Gather the required info for your offer
  • Finalize and submit your offer.
GSA Schedule buyers

The following are some of the organizations that currently purchase from the GSA Schedule:

  • All federal and executive agencies
  • Most Department of Defense agencies
  • Government contractors authorized to spend federal dollars, such as fixed-price contractors that purchase security equipment
  • Some institutions, such as Howard University and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and international organizations.
  • State and local agencies that are eligible to participate in cooperative purchasing, disaster recovery purchasing, and some law enforcement purchases.

Before becoming a GSA schedule contract holder, consider

  • Which Federal agencies are purchasing my product or service?
  • How much are they buying? Have they awarded any set-asides?
  • Who are my competitors? Who holds the current contract?
  • What contracts are set to expire that I can compete for in the future?

The GSA provides useful resources for you to conduct thorough market research and competitive analysis before competing for a government contract. See Useful GSA resources section below.

Subcontracting provides additional opportunities to obtain experience if you are not yet a U.S. Federal contractor. Other-than-small businesses (like Canadian companies) are required to submit a subcontracting plan for approval when:

  • The total value of the award is expected to exceed $750,000 (or $1.5 million for construction) and
  • Subcontracting opportunities exist.
  • Plans must demonstrate “Maximum Practicable Opportunities” for small business concerns to participate

Subcontracting allows small businesses to sell to the government by partnering with a large business prime contractor. Use GSA’s Subcontracting Directory and the GSA eLibrary to find potential large business prime contractors. Small businesses must contact prime contractors directly.

The GSA strongly recommends you to conduct thorough market research and competitive analysis before competing for a government contract. Utilize these tools for your market research:

  • GSA eLibrary: Provides latest GSA contract award information and allows you to assess your competition
  • FAS Schedule Sales Query Plus (SSQ+): Provides sales figures reported by GSA Contractors. Gives insight into your competitors and how they are performing and a great way to assess the federal marketplace for the Schedules Program specifically.
  • gov: A repository of all government transactions/receipts over $3,500. Contains information about procurements, grants, loans from 90 plus agencies.
  • GSA Interact is a place where you can have conversations with agencies and the general GSA community. It offers blogs, open discussions on trending topics, recent news and training resources.
  • gov/forecast, allows you to research upcoming federal contracting opportunities. Search by Agency, Organization, NAICS code, and keywords. Listings will provide information about the opportunity and points of contact.

Here are some more tools:

Do you have an opportunity with the U.S. DoD? 

Contact CCC to learn more about how we can support your bid.


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