Readiness Assessment for GSA proposals -7 tips on how to prepare it
Prepare a Readiness
Assessment for a GSA
»7 tips to get you started.
978-369-1140 ~ da@LincolnStrategies.com
What is a “Readiness Assessment?”
Who prepares it?
7 tips to get you started.
What is it?
A document that you need to fill out
and submit as part of a proposal to
Are you pursuing a GSA Schedule contract? Per GSA’s
rules, you will have to prepare and submit a “Readiness
Assessment”—a 7 page document that presents your
answers to 33 questions regarding GSA contracts.
Its stated purpose: to help you decide “if you are ready
to become a (GSA) contractor.”
Who prepares it?
Must be prepared and signed by a corporate
Cannot be delegated to a consultant.
How to get a blank copy.
Download it from GSA’s website:
Difficult to prepare?
Moderately difficult, unless you are familiar with GSA
• Can be difficult to efficiently sequence and coordinate the
preparation of the Readiness Assessment with other parts of a GSA
• Many of the questions in the Readiness Assessment use jargon.
• While most of the questions in the Readiness Assessment are easy
to answer, 6 of them require you to retrieve, sort, and/or analyze
This presentation provides tips on how to address these
Tip #1: Assign the right corporate officer.
The Assessment has to be prepared and signed
by a corporate officer.
Recruit an officer who has available time and an
open mind about whether your firm should
pursue a GSA Schedule contract.
Designating an officer who is too busy—or who is indifferent to
the issue of whether your firm should obtain a GSA contract—
will substantially slow down the proposal effort.
Tip #2: Get a digital certificate—quickly.
The officer who prepares the Readiness
Assessment will need to sign it electronically,
using a digital certificate.
If that officer happens to already have a DOD ECA certificate on his
or her computer, or can get one quickly, that’s great. This type of
certificate can be used to sign the Readiness Assessment.
Otherwise, the corporate officer will have to obtain an “ACES
Business Representative Business Certificate” and install it on his or
her computer. This can usually be accomplished within two weeks.
But complications can arise, for example if the officer is not U.S.-
The proposal preparation process can be harried, and it can be hard
to keep to planned schedules. Get the digital certificate out of the
way as soon as possible, and give yourself as much time as possible
to recover from any problems with this process. Why risk delaying
the submission of your GSA proposal for the want of a digital
Tip #3: Communicate, align.
The Readiness Assessment has to align well with
the rest of the proposal.
Do not submit a proposal that contains either of the following
The Readiness Assessment contains information about “Special
Item Numbers” (SINs) that are not included in the proposal.
The proposal contains SINs that are not addressed the Readiness
It is unlikely that a GSA reviewer would reject a proposal for either of
the above two problems alone. But such problems can affect the
reviewer’s overall impressions of your firm, and he or she might
decide against you in making judgment calls about other aspects of
The take-away: In setting up your proposal preparation process,
devise concrete plans for ensuring that the officer who prepares the
Readiness Assessment will communicate closely with the proposal
team, especially regarding your choices of Special Item Numbers
(SINs) that you include (which often can change during the course of
preparing the proposal).
How well do they resonate?
Tip #4: Use a spreadsheet to answer
The Readiness Assessment includes 6
For 5 of the quantitative questions (numbers 4 through 8), you will
need to download data from GSA’s “Schedule Sales Query” database.
This online system contains a dozen pre-defined data retrieval
routines. Good news: for Questions 4 through 8 of the Readiness
Assessment, you will need to use only one of these data retrieval
routines, called “SSQ Report #11.” You can learn how to use this SSQ
Report and begin downloading data in 5 minutes.
For each SIN to be included in your GSA proposal, your goal will be to
retrieve two versions of Report #11. One Report #11 should be for
the most recently completed federal fiscal year; and the second
Report #11 should be for the fiscal year before that. These data
retrievals will contain all of the information you need to answer
Readiness Assessment questions 4 through 8.
Download the data into Excel®, and use that program’s built-in tools
for performing the required analyses. Only relatively simple
functions are needed (e.g., sum columns; calculate averages.)
The next tip addresses the 6th quantitative question.
Retrieve data from a
GSA database called
“Schedule Sales Query”:
Tip #5: Use GSA eLibrary to answer the
6th quantitative question.
Use “GSA eLibrary” to answer the 6th
Question #10 of the Readiness Assessment asks: “Is your pricing for
your products and services competitive with the top 3 contracts?”
You simply have to check a “yes” or “no” box. But to decide which
box to check, you’ll need to examine prices in the GSA contracts held
by these other firms.
You already will know the identities of the “top 3” contractors by
having answered Question #6 of the Readiness Assessment. To
answer Question #10, you will now have to examine the GSA prices
of these contractors. To do so:
1. Go to GSA eLibrary (see graphic to the left for the URL).
Download the publicly available catalogs associated with each
of the “top 3” contractors.
2. Examine the pricing shown in these catalogs. Some catalogs do
not display pricing. See if you can find this information on GSA
Advantage instead. (If it is not there either, simply state so in
your answer in the Readiness Assessment.)
3. Check the “yes” or “no” box for Question #10, as appropriate.
What prices are approved for
existing GSA contractors in
the Special Item Number(s) of
interest to your firm? You
usually can retrieve this pricing
information from contractors’
catalogs on GSA eLibrary:
If pricing information is not
available in a relevant
contractor’s catalog, see
whether this data is listed in
Tip #6: Be succinct in answering the non-
Most of the other questions in the Readiness
Assessment are easy to answer. Take a common
sense approach in presenting your answers:
– Be succinct. Dispense with full sentences. The GSA reviewer will appreciate brevity.
– Format simply. The PDF fillable file is not amenable to formatting niceties. Do not
worry about it.
– Do not provide text where it is not required. Many of the Readiness Assessment
questions that ask you to check a “yes” or “no” box also display an area where you
can type in a text response to supplement the “yes” or “no.” In most cases, these text
fillable areas are irrelevant and you can ignore them.
– Round as appropriate. GSA will not care if you dispense with numbers beyond the
– Avoid historical trivia. Some of the quantitative questions ask for trend data, by SIN.
If this requires extensive analysis (e.g., because GSA has changed the scope of the
relevant SIN over time), do not obsess over the details. If necessary, simply point out
that trend data is not possible for certain SINs.
Tip #7: Do yourself a favor—consider
what you have learned.
Do not treat the Readiness Assessment as a
rote exercise or just another proposal burden.
The Readiness Assessment is a decision support tool. It can be
tempting to view it as just one more document to insert into your
GSA proposal, in a perfunctory manner. This attitude would be a
Even if your firm has already made a reasoned decision to pursue a
GSA Schedule contract, you can learn from the Readiness
Assessment. It might lead you to re-consider which SINs to pursue
or even might persuade you that a different GSA Schedule would be
a more appropriate goal.
Lincoln Strategies provides insightful, practical services
to help firms create and sustain competitive advantage
in the federal government market. Our clients include
high value-added professional services firms and
manufacturers. Many of our clients ask us to help them
obtain GSA Schedule contracts. We also provide
market research, strategic planning services, consulting,
and proposal support focused on the federal market.
For further information or if you have questions, please contact
the firm’s Principal, Dave Alexander.
Telephone: (978) 369-1140