What is the GSA?

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Any company that’s in government contracting or interested in doing business in the public sector should be familiar with the General Services Administration.

If you’ve been following my “What is…?” series, you’ve learned some of the basics of government contracting and knowing the GSA is yet another rung on the ladder.

GSA primarily provides office space for government employees by constructing, managing and preserving government buildings and by leasing and managing commercial real estate. In fact, GSA is the largest landlord in the country.

But more important for the IT industry, the agency manages a suite of technology-specific contracts and provides billions of dollars worth of private sector professional services, equipment, supplies and IT to government organizations and the military.

The IT products are sold in four categories: cloud computing services, data center services, software products and services and cybersecurity services.

Agencies can buy products through GSA schedules, which are multiple-award contract vehicles that create a catalog of government-approved, pre-negotiated price listings of commercial products or services.

These items are also sold through governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs); the IT Schedule 70, which has more than 7.5 million tech products and services from 4,600 pre-vetted vendors; and SmartBUY, a catalog of software from database management to geospatial information systems.

So you’ve probably figured out by now that if you’re an IT company, you’d probably want to consider getting your products on a GSA Schedule. It’s no guarantee that you’ll win a ton of business being on a schedule. It really depends on your company and your strategy for growing public sector revenue. The GSA stamp of approval can mean a lot to companies that don’t have a lot of name recognition. But some companies also prefer to identify certain agencies where their products fit well and pursue those agency-specific contracts.

GSA’s importance to IT companies isn’t just about selling products and services to the public sector. The agency also leads several technology initiatives that IT companies should know, including its focus on improving federal cybersecurity, optimizing and modernizing data centers, building a digital strategy so citizens can access high-quality government information, and managing the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).

So you can see why GSA is an important element of understanding government contracting. If you’d like to catch up on the other “What is…?” blog posts, click here. And check out my next class on Fundamentals of Selling IT to the Federal Government on June 22 in McLean, Va.

Fun facts about GSA:

  • Only one percent of GSA’s total budget is provided through direct congressional appropriations. The majority of GSA’s operating costs come from the products and services it provides.
  • GSA was established by President Harry Truman on July 1, 1949, to streamline the administrative work of the federal government.
  • GSA maintains the historical and architectural legacy of more than 1,600 buildings, one of its oldest being the Dolly Madison House, built in Washington, D.C. in 1820.

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