GSA Information Technology Springboard

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The federal government has struggled with bloated and ineffective IT contracts for years.


“Jack be nimble” does not apply to large IT prime contractors. The opposite usually happens in government contracting when using prime contractors and spending millions on IT projects. Prime contractors can be agile, but usually, it’s when they use small IT companies as subcontractors.


For years, government agencies and Congress have said, “We love small businesses.” Until now, this love has been mostly rhetoric with no dollar backing.


Governments are waking up and thinking of “small and agile” to solve their bloated IT efforts. And they are putting their money behind their mouth. 


The government has announced a new program for IT startups: come and help us be nimble. We need creative and quick applications.


The new program is called the “IT Schedule 70 Startup Springboard” (IT Startup), which provides a special “no corporate experience” path for IT startups and small IT businesses less than two years old.


GSA Schedule contracts have been used for years to fund IT applications and are the best way to contract for IT services. The IT Startup provides a less restrictive path for startups to obtain a GSA Schedule and participate in the multi-billion-dollar GSA schedule marketplace.


The IT Startup


Your company can be brand new, have no corporate experience, and qualify for the new program. Or your company can be several years old and still be considered a startup.


The only experience required for the IT Startup program is management experience, which is, by definition, the essence of a startup. You only need to confirm that your company is an Agile developer, and Agility is easy to prove.


The proposal evaluation for IT Startup proposal is reduced to 45 days, while other GSA schedule proposals can take several months or more for evaluation.


It’s an App at a Time


GSA’s IT Startup allows startups to receive a GSA Schedule contract quickly.


Purchasing through a GSA Schedule is how government agencies buy IT services through task order contracts, one application at a time. This is usually referred to in “government speak” as an IDIQ contract.


Congress has authorized state and local governments to use IT schedules to buy IT services. Thus, the IT Startup program applies to the state, regional and federal markets.


Through the GSA schedule program, the government issues thousands of requests for IT development proposals, with competition limited to around three companies.


You can propose an application to a government CIO and eliminate the competition.


GSA Schedules are the IDIQ of choice for small IT service companies and startups.


  • They are the preferred source, by regulation, for federal purchases.
  • Contracting officers, federal purchasers, and vendors find them quick and easy to use.
  • A Schedule contract is the only way to close a purchase transaction of more than $25,000 (other than the lengthy and expensive public bid process or participating as a subcontractor to a prime contractor)  
  • Purchases through GSA schedules can be set-aside for small businesses.



Faster, Cheaper, and Innovative


The IT Startup program aims to encourage small, agile developers to implement applications faster, cheaper, and more innovatively than the multi-billion-dollar prime contractors who have dominated the market for years.


The IT Market


The federal information technology market is $100 billion annually. Around $80 billion is purchased through IDIQ contracts and $20 billion through the IT GSA Schedule contract. Add the $80 billion annual state and local IT contract funding, and the IT Schedule contract is the biggest government-wide IDIQ.


The government is turning to mobility and apps to streamline programs. Thousands of apps have been developed, and tens of thousands have yet to be conceived.


You are limited only by your creativity and ability to innovate.


Agile Development


Agile development capabilities are not a strict requirement for the new IT Contracting Program but are highly recommended. 


Agile development is easy to confirm; it’s an attitude more than anything else. It’s “break it up into small pieces project management” reborn under a new name. Most startups are Agile developers by nature.


Agile training programs with certifications and support software are available. Agile capabilities require a minimum investment, and if you have agile experience, that’s enough to qualify without training programs and certifications.


Qualifying for IT Startup Springboard


You can receive an IT Startup contract award by submitting a proposal to the General Services Administration (GSA). 


The IT Startup proposal is comprised of three basic types of files.


1.   Red tape administrative files that require you to follow step-by-step procedures.

2.   Files showing management experience and corporate experience if you have corporate experience (experience in management is enough).

3.   Price files showing your proposed hourly rates by labor category. How you justify the reasonableness of your proposed hourly rates is unique to the company and can be based on corporate invoices, invoices for management while with another company, cost and profit buildups, hourly rate comparisons based on national surveys, and rates published for GSA Schedule contract holders.


Accounting systems meeting federal cost accounting requirements are optional; QuickBooks are enough.


Although GSA approves pricing based on fixed hourly rates, task order contracts pricing (application level) is fixed price, allowing profitability even if approved hourly rates are lower than you would like.


The most challenging part of an IT Startup proposal is proving the reasonableness of your proposed hourly rates. Fedmarket specializes in IT startup price justification.


Specific qualifications for the new IT Startup program are shown under the Federal Requirements Section at the end of the document.



We Have an IT Contract, Now What?


For startups, selling at the task order (application) level is best accomplished through creative thinking, and the government is seeking creativity through the IT Startup program.


What counts in the government IT market is creativity, speed of development, and a relatively low risk of failure. These capabilities are best found in startups where management and app development experience are focused at the project (contract) level.



Step 1: Take the Initiative


Contact information for federal, state, and local CIOs is readily available through search engines. Conceive an application and email and or call them. Use your industry partners and contacts to grease the skids.


Write the specification behind your idea and present and/or email it to a CIO. They want to stand out, and creative apps are the way to “CIO recognition.”  Your idea becomes their app.


Step 2: Respond to IT Requests for Quotes


Thousands of Requests for Quotes (RFQs) are emailed to the holders of IT schedule contracts. Pick the ones that fit your capabilities and respond.


Turn your response into an app and stand out. Creativity rules!


Money is Script


The federal government is money-conscious at the political level. However, a dollar in the federal government differs from a dollar in ordinary life. Multi-million government IT development contracts are a daily occurrence. 


Don't be a Subcontractor 


Creativity, development speed, and a relatively low risk of failure are different from what the government gets by contracting with large prime contractors. The large prime contractors are trying to be agile by hiring startups as subcontractors. 


Try to avoid being a subcontractor. Prime contractors limit subcontractors’ access to the customer and control subcontractor profits. Wouldn’t you if you were the contract holder?


The new IT program allows you to be the prime contractor, work directly with the customer, and control your profits. You also receive credit for your creativity and application success.



Federal Requirements Published by GSA for IT Schedule Startup Springboard:


The IT Schedule Startup Springboard initiative focuses on innovative IT companies with fewer than two years of experience. Our goal is to get the latest innovative technologies into the hands of federal agencies faster by getting emerging technology companies onto the IT Schedule, the government’s most significant IT contract vehicle.


This initiative now allows these innovative companies to:

  • Use the professional experience of their executives and key personnel as a substitute for having two years of corporate experience.
  • Use the project experience of key personnel as a substitute for having relevant corporate past performance.
  • Provide financial documentation demonstrating the company's financial responsibility instead of submitting two years of financial statements.

This initiative will make it easier for these companies to access over $15 billion in annual federal, state, and local IT opportunities. In addition, it will establish a pathway for all highly qualified IT companies to join IT Schedule and give more small businesses access to these opportunities.



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