THE SCHEDULES PROGRAM DOES SO MUCH BUSINESS NOBODY USES IT ANYMORE
With apologies to Yogi Berra, there’s so much buzz over new contracts coming soon from GSA, NIH and other government agencies contractors could be forgiven for thinking that none of their customers use Multiple Award Schedule contracts anymore. The numbers, however, make it abundantly clear that Schedule contracts remain an important piece of a company’s overall federal business strategy. Schedule contracts topped $34 billion in business in FY’20, with final numbers likely being way higher. Leading the way are IT contracts, formerly classified as Schedule 70. Think NASA SEWP had more business? Think again. Over $18 billion in IT sales went through GSA Schedules last year. In boxing terms that translates into “the winner and still champion” of Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts. Indeed, some contract vehicles that are classified as separate programs by industry analysts are, in fact, Schedules-based Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA’s). The Schedules program may not get the buzz of other contracts because it is perpetually open to new offers. Even some in GSA can get caught by the siren songs of other contracts or buy into the decades-old saw that Schedule prices are “too high”. In this time of advanced data analytics and instantly available commercial pricing information, though, that saw has pretty well lost its teeth. Federal customers rely on the program to meet a vast array of needs, including important market segments where there are no other IDIQ’s from which to purchase. The Schedules are also the only contracts open to state and local government use. Simply put, government buyers at all levels would have a significantly harder time meeting critical mission needs if there was no Schedules program. Look beyond the headlines and you will see a program that serves customers, small businesses, and taxpayers well. Contractors should plan their approach to the public sector market accordingly.