GSA Schedule Scams – Contractors BEWARE !, Part II
Business owners have a choice when selecting a consultant to assist them in navigating the complexity of Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Contracts offered through the General Services Administration. Some consultants offer more value than others and unfortunately, a few are just out to make a quick buck at the expense of small and medium-sized business owners. This publication is a continuation of a blog BH Sky first published in November 2012 and is intended to update our readers on the status of a Florida-based company that has scammed many unsuspecting business owners.
On November 4, 2014, the Consumer Protection Division of the Florida Attorney General’s Office filed a civil complaint against Federal Verification Company, Inc. pursuant to the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Their office has received over 200 complaints against Federal Verification Co. The complaint identifies dozens of bogus names used by Federal Verification as well as its numerous websites. To read the formal complaint click here.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi brought the lawsuit for allegedly charging high upfront fees to customers who were “given false hope of a GSA contract” according to the 19-page lawsuit. The April 17, 2015 edition of the Wall Street Journal, stated “customers report being deceived and scammed.” The lawsuit also said “Many customers express great frustration with the failure of Federal Verification to timely and accurately prepare their application as promised, and to submit it to the GSA after several months to more than two years since paying hefty fees.”
As of June 27, 2016, the Florida Attorney General’s investigation and litigation are ongoing and a temporary injunction prohibits Federal Verification Co. from soliciting new customers.
Facing a lawsuit over allegedly deceptive practices, Federal Verification Co.’s lawyer, Michael Markham, filed for bankruptcy and put the firm into Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa on April 13, 2015, in an attempt to stop an upcoming trial. The company had planned to use the bankruptcy process as a detour in order to figure out how to settle their disputes with people who’ve filed complaints and remain in business. The Company’s bankruptcy filing momentarily halted a trial in state court set for April 23, 2015, but after the Florida Attorney General’s Office argued that the lawsuit involves “a matter of public safety and health,” Judge K. Rodney May ruled that the trial would continue and the bankruptcy filing was dismissed on February 17, 2016.
Restrictions Placed on Federal Agencies
On October 1, 2015, a preliminarily restriction was activated placing restrictions on Federal agencies doing business with Federal Verification Co. pending completion of an investigation to determine final ineligibility. The System for Award Management (SAM) details the causes of the determination of ineligibility, identifies restrictions placed on agencies, and enumerates the many names under which this business has operated under. To see the list of these names search for Federal Verification on SAM.govand select view details.
There are No Guarantees
Having a GSA Schedule contract does NOT guarantee you sales. A GSA Schedule Contract is a marketing tool, a contract vehicle, and a license to hunt. Moreover, GSA Schedule contractors are expected to meet or exceed $25K in GSA sales within the first two years of being awarded their contract and $25K every year thereafter. GSA will review your company’s GSA sales history and reserves the right to cancel the contract if there are either insufficient sales or a demonstrated lack of regard for contract compliance.
Federal Verification Co. used telemarketers to advertise assurances of success in doing business with GSA, when in fact, it is not that simple. Consultants that GUARANTEE sales via a GSA Schedule Contract are not being truthful. The best way to avoid pitfalls in the application process and successfully sell to government agencies is to first determine whether your business is eligible to apply for a contract and, if eligible, to then write a quality proposal. Finally, if and when you are awarded the contract, it is essential that you maintain compliance with GSA rules and regulations.
Don’t Purchase What You Don’t Need
A qualified consultant with substantiated GSA expertise should not sell you a service you cannot utilize. The first step in navigating the complexities of GSA is to determine if your company possesses all of the qualifications necessary to secure a GSA Schedule contract, also called a pre-assessment. The pre-assessment should include a review of GSA contract requirements to determine if your business complies, verification that there is a GSA Schedule that covers the products/services your company provides, an assessment of whether the GSA Schedule is a good fit for your company, and market research to determine if the federal government has a need for the products/services you offer.
Consultants that promise you a GSA Schedule Contract without a pre-assessment should be avoided.
Look for a Quality Consultant
Does your consultant provide you with a knowledgeable single point-of-contact that is easily reachable for follow-up questions and inquiries? This same point of contact should be available throughout contract negotiations, post-award compliance and IOA visits.
BH Sky is a full-service company with a team having over 30 years of federal contracting experience that specializes in GSA Schedule Contracts. This team includes NCMA Certified Schedule Contract Managers (CSCM) and former Federal Contracting Officers (COs) who will assist you step-by-step through the three phases of the GSA Schedules process: Pre-Assessment, Proposal Support, and Contract Management. BH Sky offers assistance with each phase of the process. We begin by determining if a GSA Schedule Contract is the right fit for your company. If it is, we then assist you in the preparation, negotiation, and submission of your proposal. Upon award, we provide comprehensive contract management services including GSA contract modifications, GSA eLibrary and Advantage! uploads, and contract administration and compliance services.
Find Out How BH Sky Can Help You Prepare a Quality Proposal for a GSA Schedule Contract
For more information on how BH Sky can help determine if your company is eligible to apply for a GSA Schedule Contract and assist you in preparing your proposal, contact us directly by calling 866-468-7420 or email.