Over the past 6 years, the GSA has shifted to a “Gate Keeper” model. There is a pass/fail review is conducted for each GSA Contract Offer Package. This results in a very high rate of GSA rejection. Here is an Infographic of of the 25 most common GSA Rejection issues.
Incomplete GSA Offer = GSA Rejection
A few years ago, the GSA stopped including a “Checklist” in the Solicitation package. This is probably for the best. There are so many if/then’s during the process of preparing a GSA Contract, that a checklist was too simplified. This being the case makes GSA Contract services on par with an Accountant or Attorney. You could probably learn to do it yourself, but it is advisable to seek out a trusted source.
Around page 5 of the Solicitation document for your GSA Schedule you will find an itemized list of the documentation and details required (SCP-FSS-001, 002 and 003). Unless everything within this list is included in your Offer, then you will very likely face GSA Contact rejection. Here are some common problems the result in rejection of a GSA Contract:
1. Missing Documentation
There are some documents, like the Pathways to Success, Readiness Assessment, etc., that are easy to miss.
2. Pricing is not competitive
As outlined in the solicitation, pricing must be competitive both compared to current GSA Contract offerings and/or to your customer discounting methods.
3. CSP Document
Often times this is incomplete, and customer discounting is not properly disclosed, or is but in a confusing way.
4. SCA Matrix
Possibly the most confusing (and least instructed) part of preparing a GSA Contract. The required format is given, but there is no instruction on how to gather the necessary information. This is impossible to complete properly unless you know about SCA or Davis/Bacon going into the process.
5. Open Ratings Report
This third-party report must be completed, and any negative feedback (and even excessive neutral feedback) must be addressed.
6. Digital Certificate
An employee from within the company must have a digital certificate, supported by a screenshot.
7. Employee Handbook (PCP/UOT)
This is needed for almost every offer, but it is often overlooked. This document should outline Employee Benefits, an Affirmative Action plan, etc.
8. Licensing Agreements
The GSA’s Legal team will review your licensing agreement. They will remove or revise anything contradictory to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). This is big for Schedule 70, but is relevant to other GSA Schedules as well.
9. Industry Specific Requirements
Your specific SIN(s) may have some extra requirements. So, look through the Solicitation package for any mention of them.
10. “Ghost Documents”
This is a document that is required in your offer, but it is not mentioned anywhere in the Solicitation package. Yes, rejection can happen sometimes even if there was no way for you to know.
11. Human Error
The person reviewing your offer is human. Sometimes rejections happen because they missed something that actually was submitted.
12. Frozen Schedules or SIN’s
This may not be your fault, but it is usually posted somewhere on the Internet. So, you are responsible for knowing if the SIN you are submitting for is frozen (i.e. currently not taking any new offers).
Scope & Project History Issues = GSA Rejection
Section II, Factor Four (Technical Proposal), is by far the most difficult task in the process of getting a GSA Contract. Even if you supplied all necessary documents, if the instructions for the Technical Proposal were not followed perfectly then you face GSA rejection. It takes years of experience to master this section. And, most novices to GSA Contracting will fall hard when writing the Technical Proposal. Locating Projects and writing the Tech proposal for Scope justification is an art, and a science.
13. Stuck between two GSA Schedules
Some Contractors offer products and/or services that fall just perfectly between two categories (GSA Schedules). So, when you submit to the first, they say that it fits better into the scope of the other. And when you submit to the other GSA Schedule, they say that it fits better into the scope of the other one that you were already rejected from. It’s a very frustrating way to get a GSA rejection!
14. Project History does not match SIN Descriptions
Unless the preponderance of the work for the projects offered in the Technical Proposal perfectly match the scope outlined in the SIN Description, you face GSA rejection. Also, the SIN descriptions are very vague often times. This makes the Technical Proposal a minefield for a novice. When there is a discrepancy between the SIN description and the project documentation (and there always is if you dig deep enough), then the project is unusable. Therefore, you must critically review the entire Statement of Work submitted and remove or offer supplemental explanation for confusing areas. Once a project is deemed unusable it is often times “permanently stained” This makes it unusable for resubmission because the CO has made a determination. The burden is on you to convince them otherwise.
15. Offered Products or Services not Supported
The Solicitation states that every item offered must be supported by an invoice (and it must have a direct and clear link). This is challenging if an offer has hundreds of offerings.
16. Projects are too old
In some cases, the projects used must be within one year old, but most of the time the requirement is two years. When the GSA’s review time approached 6-12 months the projects will often times expire, and if they took a long time to review and reject, then you are left having to re-write the Technical Proposal for new projects because the original ones have expired.
17. Not Enough Projects were submitted
Similar to the age of the project, some SIN’s require two and some require three. The Solicitation should guide you here (but not always). You could submit 1 or 2 extra SOW’s and write ups. However, that is a lot of extra work and it may give the reviewer more reasons for a GSA rejection.
18. Legislative conflict (Brooks Act, Ability One, etc.)
For some SIN’s there are huge pitfalls. They are usually mentioned in the SIN description. It takes a great deal of extra research to understand these references, and assure that the Tech Proposal steers clear of them.
19. Letter of Supply (LOS) requirement
If you are offering products that are not your own, then you must provide a Letter of Supply (or several) to cover every product offered.
20. Trade Agreement Act (TAA) Compliance
The Trade Agreement Act (TAA) governs the allowable Country of Origin (COO) for the items offered on a GSA Contract. Chinese end products are not allowed on a GSA Contract, but Taiwan end products are. You must remove non-compliant products before submitting your offer to GSA.
21. Green Requirements
Some SIN’s require that a certain green certification be applied to all new products offered. For example, for Schedule 73 SIN 302-49 Freezers and Refrigerator units must be Energy Star certified to be listed.
Weakness in Financial History = GSA Rejection
The GSA will not sign off on a Contractor that they feel will not be around in a few years. So, they carefully review each Contractor’s financial strength. If there is not a reasonable expectation that a Contractor will meet the Minimum Sales Requirement ($25K in first two years, $25K every year after), then a Contractor will face GSA rejection.
22. Company is too newly formed
In order to get a GSA Contract, a Contractor must be able to offer two years of financial documentation. This restrains start-ups looking to get into the federal market, but they can always “piggyback” on another’s GSA Contract.
23. Loss experienced within past 2 years
If a loss was experienced, then it must be addressed and explained away. This is not a disqualifying factor, but the GSA will put you through a deep Financial Review. You must display that the loss does not affect your ability to perform.
24. Bad Debt Situation
If there are issues with Debt or the Current Ratio is not strong, then the GSA will refuse to award a GSA Contract. Again, the GSA will put you through a deep Financial Review.
25. Revenue below $250K
This sounds bad because it discriminates against Small Businesses. But the burden is on the Contractor to reasonably prove that they have a good chance of meeting the Minimum Sales Requirement. Otherwise the GSA Contract will not be awarded.
You can do anything, but should you? Let’s face it. We are all limited by time, and getting a GSA contract with GSA Focus will save you months and also guarantee success.
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We live in a time where 75-90% of GSA offers are rejected. Sometimes after months of waiting for review. There is no silver bullet to grow your company in the federal market. The trick is to know when to take a project on in-house, and when it is time to lean on a seasoned expert to deliver in an accurate and timely manner.
GSA Focus helps Companies grow their business in the Federal Market, through our Turnkey GSA Contract Services. By leveraging our experience and streamlined procedures you can assure that your company will have a GSA Schedule Contract just in time to start winning federal contracts.