Congratulations if you make it to GSA Clarifications with your Offer, most that make it this far are awarded (eventually!). Primarily, you are celebrating that your offer has not been rejected. It won’t feel like a celebration, however, since in reality you will receive an email with a list of demands and likely a short deadline. Welcome to the GSA Clarifications stage of getting a GSA Contract.
What Are GSA Clarifications?
The GSA must (1) be fully satisfied with your document package and (2) it’s contents must be consistent. GSA Clarifications handle many of the issues relating to these two topics. The offer package listed many mandatory documents that you have already submitted, but now you are at the mercy of the GSA Contracting Specialist. Every, offer will have a few “gaps” that need to be filled in the mind of the Contracting Specialist. These “gaps” are usually just areas that need to be better supported, or they are weak points in the due diligence check into your business that must be explained away. GSA Clarifications must be handled with craftiness and timeliness to build momentum towards the next stage, Negotiations.
General Tips for Successful GSA Clarifications:
1) Roll with the punches – GSA Clarifications may be a painless, one-round process or it may drag on for months. You have no control here, so just persevere as best as you can.
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2) Respond same/next day if possible – Often times, the Contract Specialist will keep momentum going on your offer if you are responsive to their document needs.
3) Every GSA Contracting Specialist is different – Throw out any past experience you may have with this process. Every GSA Contract review is as unique as a snowflake.
What are Negotiations?
You can truly celebrate if you make it to negotiations, because you can see the finish line. However, it is important to take this process very seriously or you could end up with a GSA Contract that doesn’t much benefit your company.
GSA Contract Negotiations cover 3 areas:
1) Making sure you understand the major Terms & Conditions of the GSA Contract you are about to enter into for 20 years (if all goes well).
2) Negotiating the General Discount, Volume/Quantity Discounts, Prompt Payment Discount, Freight Conditions, etc. of the GSA Contract.
3) Preparation of a Final Proposal Revisions document to wrap up the final agreed upon terms of the GSA Contract.
GSA Clarifications are pretty straightforward, but Negotiations are where hiring an outside consultant is of great benefit. The GSA Contracting Specialist goes through these a few times every week. They are good at it, and are trained how to navigate the negotiation process. So, the cards are stacked against you. An experienced GSA Consultant will level the playing field and assure your GSA Contract benefits you in the end.