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(established 1928)

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What is a GSA Schedule?

by Robert Haskell

GSA stands for General Services Administration. GSA began as a way to assist federal employees procure items through pre-negotiated prices, warranties and delivery terms. Also know as a Federal Supply Schedule, a GSA Schedule permits authorized contractors to sell their products to the federal government. In theory, the program also supports small businesses though GSA has been criticized for policies that sometimes contradict this goal. The actual portal used to make purchases is usually accomplished on the government's official site, GSA Advantage®. Some contractors also sell GSA products on their own sites.

The federal government has strict requirements for products sold. All paper products must be at least 35% recycled. In addition, only products manufactured either in America or a permitted country can be sold to federal employees. The program also mandates that products deemed ETS (Essentially The Same) be excluded from the contractors' GSA schedule. A product is considered ETS when an item offered by the AbilityOne® program serves the same purpose.

AbilityOne® is government program that supports Americans living with extreme disabilities. This includes the blind, would warriors and people with limited mobility. Through the SKILCRAFT® brand, NIB provides employment opportunities to these individuals who produce various products and services. Although the federal government provides the most assistance, AbilityOne® products are also available for sale to the general public. When you purchase a product with these icons, you are supporting individuals living with major disabilities:

AbilityOne Logo    SKILCRAFT logo    NIB - National Industries for the Blind

GSA and AbilityOne® work together to support both contract holders and individuals with major disabilities. Although the challenges to maintain a GSA schedule are many and not all will profit, many still believe the resources of the federal government are worth the tremendous time and financial investment required to comply with federal mandates.