How firms get a schedule

In January, AppliedTheory Corp. finished a several-month process to become one of more than 1,800 companies offering professional services on the General Services Administration schedule.

As is the case with most firms with a schedule contract, the New York City-based company, which provides Internet services, sought the contract "so it could target the federal market directly," said Sharon Glott, customer engagement manager for the government market.

Without that access, AppliedTheory has had to address government by partnering with other companies holding GSA contracts. For example, earlier this year the company teamed with Dynamic Technology Systems Inc., Alexandria, Va., to upgrade the State Department's Web site, said Martin Perry, Applied-Theory's senior director of business development.

The company began laying the groundwork for its proposal early last year by reviewing and improving its internal processes, Glott said. "We then put together the proposal, which included company background information, a description of products and services, labor category rates and specific terms and conditions," she said.

Once GSA determined the proposal was satisfactory, a negotiation took place to hash out small details and then the contract was awarded, Glott said.

For its part, FSS is looking at how companies do business commercially, including the prices that they charge customers, said Carolyn Alston, assistant commissioner for the Federal Supply Service's Office of Acquisition Management. That information is then used to negotiate a fair agreement for government customers, she said, adding that the application process takes about 90 to 120 days.

"It took us a little longer because we amended some of that information while they were reviewing the content," Glott said.

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