One of the least understood, but easiest, ways to sell to and accept payment from the U.S. federal government for services and goods is through the ubiquitous credit card.
GSA SmartPay is the largest government charge card program in the world, and it is used just like commercial credit cards, such as Visa or MasterCard. According to the General Services Administration (GSA), there currently are more than 350 agencies/organizations participating in the credit card program, spending more than $30 billion annually through 100 million transactions on more than 3 million cards.
Through the GSA SmartPay Program, agencies are able to obtain purchase, travel, fleet and integrated charge cards (known as business lines) through a master contract with selected banks, such as Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bank.
Any government employee who is authorized to carry a SmartPay card has been assigned a spending limit, and may spend up to $3,000 per transaction or authorized period (such as a month). Some may have higher authorization limits: up to $25,000 or even $150,000. The highest limits are usually reserved for crisis, disaster or national security-related purchases where immediate vendor response is demanded, such as a result of hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Government SmartPay cards, also called purchase or credit cards, may not be used for personal use or unauthorized purchases, or purchases that do not comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) or other procurement regulations.
While there are pros and cons of government credit cards, it is an undeniable fact that contractors who want to see faster market entry and immediate payment will define their offerings in terms attractive to buyers who use the cards and market aggressively to those buyers. This means understanding that both services and products can be purchased through credit cards and a normal transaction must be under the $3,000 limit.
Generally, selling products under the $3,000 limit via credit cards is simple to understand. If an item costs $299, then 10 can be purchased and remain under the limit.
The challenge can arise when services must be thought of in segments of $3,000 or less per transaction. This is generally an issue of understanding labor rates, and then pricing and marketing the services to match customer needs. However, it is not acceptable to game the system and break down a larger transaction to smaller amounts just to stay under the dollar limit. This is a serious transgression and punishable by fines, debarment and potential jail time.
If a businessperson invests the time and energy to learn the rules and regulations, selling to the federal government by accepting federal credit cards as normal business operations will open the door to millions of dollars in revenues.
For more information, visit the GSA SmartPay web site at http://smartpay.gsa.gov. Check the list of contractors noted below whom have recently won competitive bids or task orders to provide services and products to the federal government.
• Grunley/Goel JV D LLC, Rockville, won a $7,530,000 contract for the construction of an auditorium and training facility at Fort Detrick, from The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore. www.grunley.com/about/mentor.asp
• G-W Management Services, Rockville, won a $9,620,237 contract to provide design and construction services at Webster Field Annex, Naval Air Station Patuxent River from The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Washington, D.C. www.manta.com/c/mm7xp5j/g-w-management-service-llc
• The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Rockville, won a $23,679,888 contract to provide for the personal and non-personal services to support the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Centers, from The North Atlantic Regional Contracting Office, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C. www.hjf.org
• Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors, Baltimore, won a $6,937,113 contract for electrical design agent services for the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, from The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C.. www.lockheedmartin.com/ms2
• Phoenix International Holdings, Largo, won a $16,837,936 contract to continue services to manage, maintain, mobilize and operate the Submarine Rescue Diving & Recompression System, including associated facilities and equipment, from The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C. www.phnx-international.com
• Sektech Corp., Hyattsville, with several other companies, won a $20 million contract for the maintenance, repair, construction and design-build services in support of National Guard activities in the state of Maine from The National Guard Bureau, Augusta, Maine. www.sektechcorp.com
• Smiths Detection, Edgewood, won a $12,485,223 contract from the U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, to procure 19 chemical biological protective shelters M8E1 systems. www.smithsdetection.com/Edgewood.php
• Sodexo Management, Gaithersburg, won a $106,752,703 contract to operate and manage 20 Marine Corps garrison mess halls located on the West Coast of the continental United States from U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. www.sodexousa.com/usen/contact.asp
• Special Operations Technology, Annapolis Junction, won a $79.5 million contract to install, operate and maintain the lawful intercept equipment and support equipment at various locations around Afghanistan from the U.S. Army Space & Missile Command, Huntsville, Ala. www.sotech.us
• TCOM Limited Partnership, A/K/A TCOM L.P., Columbia, won a $12,354,993 contract from The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., to procure hardware in support of Phase III of the Persistent Ground Surveillance Systems (PGSS) for the Army. www.tcomlp.com/overview_contact.html
Gloria Larkin is president of TargetGov in Columbia. She can be contacted at 410-772-3914 and firstname.lastname@example.org.