Why GWACs Are A Good Bet

US Flag, Capitol Building and MoneyBob Laclede 100x135by Bob Laclede, Vice President, Channels

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has dusted off a 2011 policy for stamping out “unnecessary” government-wide acquisition contracts. With so much time left to do business in FY 2016, it’s time to review the fundamentals of a good GWAC strategy. And a few of the techniques manufacturers can use to maintain or even boost their federal sales even if they don’t have a prime contract on one of the main GWACs.

What I’m suggesting may sound obvious, yet I’ve heard so many manufacturers over the years complain that they’re blocked out of this or that agency or requirement because they miscalculated their GWAC strategy.

Use your distribution partner as your vehicle for sales into agencies using GWACs where you don’t have a presence. One reason OMB is trying to tamp down on contract vehicle proliferation is to avoid costs for the government and contractors.

Before a distributor can consummate a sale of your product, though, you’ve got to do your homework. That is, the agency program manager, and by extension the contracting officer, must have decided they want your product. You need approval from the agency doing the purchasing in order to use a GWAC via a distributor or reseller.

On a vehicle like NASA SEWP V, we see hundreds of opportunities for vendors on our line card that aren’t on SEWP. It’s not that the SEWP  authorities (often a civilian agency) have anything against adding vendors, it’s just that they’d rather not deal with hundreds of individual companies if the vehicle has other, more efficient means for serving them and the agencies that need their products.

NETCENTS (Air Force), ITES (Army), and NextGen (Navy) all work the same way, with varying degrees of speed.

New companies with innovative products in critical areas like cybersecurity or robotics and those simply new to the federal market should consider using distribution partners to ride through the GWACs. Sure you can always get your products onto a GSA multiple-award schedule contract—a good move to justify your “street price.” But there’s a quick avenue to federal sales without the time and expense that entails.

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