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Understanding Contract Vehicles, IDIQ Contracts, and GSA Schedules

Utilize Contract Vehicles, IDIQ Contracts, and GSA Schedules to Win More Business

With all the complications involved in contracting with the public sector, misunderstanding government lingo shouldn’t be among them. This blog post defines three common government contracting terms, (contract vehicles, IDIQ contracts, and GSA Schedules,) and how each can be utilized as a valuable tool to win more government contracts. 

What Are Contract Vehicles?

The federal government defines contract vehicles as “a streamlined method the government uses to buy goods and services.” Essentially, contract vehicles act as a pre-approved list of vendors and services from which governments can purchase with expedited procurement procedures. 

To get onto a contract vehicle, vendors must typically submit an application or an RFP response to the governing agency and must meet or exceed the evaluation criteria to sell their services or goods on the contract vehicle. 

Contract vehicles are valuable tools for closing deals with the public sector, as they create avenues to expedite deals and avoid prolonged public solicitations. In addition, sometimes agencies might require vendors to be on a certain contract vehicle to even respond to an RFP or solicitation. 

In summation, contract vehicles streamline the government’s purchase of services or goods. When working on a deal with the public sector, always inquire about which contract vehicles the government likes to use in procurement, research how to get onto the contract vehicle, and begin thinking about whether the effort needed to get onto the contract vehicle is worth the deal you are pursuing. 

What is an IDIQ Contract?

IDIQ stands for “indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity.” An IDIQ contract is used in situations where the government can’t determine the exact amount of a good or service they will need but going to bid for every additional provision is unrealistic or too costly. In other words, an IDIQ contract is utilized to allow governments to continually purchase a service or good for a set period of time. 

Winning an IDIQ contract can be extremely valuable for companies, as it means the company will now become a pre-approved vendor for a given set of goods or services. However, applying for an IDIQ contract can be time-intensive and costly. It’s always wise to weigh the opportunity cost of preparing applications or RFP responses for IDIQ contracts against the potential profit of being approved. 

What is a GSA Schedule?

GSA Schedules, also referred to as Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) and Federal Supply Schedules, are long-term contracts that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) holds with companies to provision their goods and service at pre-negotiated prices. GSA Schedules are the most widely used contract vehicle in the United States for doing business with the public sector. 

The GSA approves vendors for its schedules by reviewing their applications and pre-negotiating competitive pricing. Any government agency, state, or local government can use a GSA Schedule to purchase an approved good or service at the pre-negotiated competitive price. Often, having a good or service on a GSA Schedule is a prerequisite for doing business with a public sector entity. When the good or service on the GSA Schedule is below a certain spending threshold, most governments can choose to purchase the good or service directly from the vendor, utilizing the GSA Schedule as the contract vehicle. Above the spending threshold, governments will generally be required to issue an RFP or competitive solicitation. Many times, having a good or service registered on the GSA Schedule is a requirement for doing business with a government or competing in a competitive solicitation.

If you’re planning on doing business with the public sector, getting your goods or services listed on the GSA Schedules is an important step to set you up for success. 

Putting it All Together

Doing business with the public sector can be complicated. But utilizing contract vehicles, including IDIQ contracts and GSA Schedules, can expedite the sales process and increase the chances of winning government contracts. 

At their core, contract vehicles, IDIQ contracts, and GSA Schedules, are all mechanisms to pre-approve vendors with standard terms, conditions, and competitive pricing to make it easier for governments to do business without getting buried in endless procurement cycles. While it can take concerted effort and planning to become approved for a contract vehicle, IDIQ contract, or a GSA Schedule, it is often a prerequisite for building a successful business with the public sector. 

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