Open Source on a GSA Schedule

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Refractions secured a GSA schedule today (it’s not on their web site yet, but we just got the “contract is in the mail” notification)! For those not in the know, it’s worth an explanation.


GSA is the US General Services Administration, a catch-all purchasing authority for the US federal government. Government purchasing is difficult, because spending taxpayer’s money requires a good deal more transparency and fairness than needs to be exercised in the private sector. Doing “requests for proposals” is a lot of work, to write and evaluate, and many jurisdictions have routed around RFPs by creating the idea of a “standing order”, a pre-negotiated contract for specific products or services. GSA creates standing orders for the entire federal government, so having a GSA contract allows you to sell to a lot of clients with a lot less paperwork.

So this is a big deal for Refractions, and now opens the door to the question: can we sell enough open source (and other) geospatial services to keep our GSA contract? GSA contracts are a use-it-or-lose-it affair, so we have to hit minimum sales targets or they rip it up.