Governmental contracts provide a significant source of income for businesses of all sizes. You can spend a lot of time finding government proposal opportunities. For federal contract opportunities, there are a few websites you’ll want to familiarize yourself with. You can use these websites free of charge, but you may have to register your company to submit proposals.
Before you look for government proposal opportunities…
Before you begin searching for federal government proposal opportunities, get a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number. If you already have one, that’s great! Otherwise, you’ll need one to submit a proposal. To get a DUNS number, visit http://www.dnb.com.
You’ll also want to register for a System for Award Management (SAM) account at http://www.sam.gov. This site, which replaced the Central Contractor Registry (CCR), provides access to post-award administrative functions. Many government agencies require contractors to use this site and have an active account at the time of award. You must update your SAM account information annually. You can use SAM at no cost.
To search for available government opportunities, or to follow up on previous awards, your first stop should be FedBizOpps. This site is more than just a database of active contract opportunities. If you’re new to federal contracting, you’ll find helpful educational resources, videos, FAQs, user guides and more. This is a great way to learn how to use the site and make the most of its features. Although you can search for opportunities without making an account, you will want to register on the site. Registration will enable the site to keep you updated on new opportunities, changes to existing opportunities and provide other useful information about contracts you’re interested in. Registration is free.
Once you’re on the site, you can search for opportunities in a number of ways. The default order displays opportunities by posting date. You can configure search requests to limit results only to the types of contracts you’re interested in. Most federal agencies use this site to post their contracting opportunities. (You may find the same opportunity posted on other sites, too.) In addition, disadvantaged businesses can apply for certain federal contracting opportunities. You can narrow your search to include or exclude these opportunities.
Each opportunity will contain all of the information you need to understand the agency’s request and submit a proposal. It’s important to read through the opportunity in its entirety and follow the submission instructions to the letter. Failure to follow the posting agency’s directions is a sure way to submit a non-winning proposal.
GSA.gov is the website for the Government Services Agency, the major procurement arm of the US federal government. The GSA website offers a wealth of information for businesses of all sizes that wish to provide products and services to the federal government. The GSA specializes in procuring
- Facilities & Construction
- Human Capital
- Industrial Products & Services
- Information Technology
- Office Management
- Professional Services
- Security & Protection
- Transportation & Logistics Services
- Travel & Lodging
You can find all GSA contracting opportunities on http://fbo.gov. That doesn’t mean the GSA website has nothing else to offer! Because the GSA manages the purchase of a broad range of products and services, they offer long-term contracting opportunities. GSA schedules enable providers to sell products and services to multiple agencies using a single management point. (The alternative would be to have sales contracts with each agency.) Using a GSA schedule, an agency can purchase products and services at a pre-determined price without negotiating a new contract with suppliers.
The GSA has its own process to approve vendors for “schedule” sales, and not all vendors want to go the schedule route. To learn more about GSA schedules and also to determine whether they’re a good fit for you, visit the GSA website.
One more benefit of the GSA website: the GSA produces a contracting forecast. This information allows contractors to see generally what the GSA will be buying in the coming year. It’s a good general planning tool for government contractors.
USA.gov is a beta website that offers government contracting opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses. You can search the active opportunity listings and the search tool can also help you narrow your results. While FBO.gov also has small and disadvantaged set-asides, this site features these contract types exclusively. This is a good way to find specific business opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses.
A disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) is defined as a business that is at least 51% owned by a person who is considered socially or economically disadvantaged. This presumptively includes African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific and Subcontinent Asian Americans, and women. There is a mechanism to seek approval for DBE status for individuals not presumptively recognized as disadvantaged. In addition, certain government contracts are set aside for veteran-owned, disabled veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.
“Economic disadvantage” is defined as follows: an individual whose personal net worth is less than $1.32 million. In addition, an economically disadvantaged small business must meet size and annual income criteria.
State, county and local procurement
State, county and local (municipal) entities normally manage their own contracting procedures. You may need to register individually with the entity to participate in its contracting program. Likewise, each program has its own participation requirements. The contracting entities offer the best information for active and future contracting opportunities. Normally, you can sign up for notifications of upcoming and active opportunities – usually by email. Additionally, the issuer’s website will have all active contract opportunities for some minimum period of time. State, county and local bidding opportunities may or may not show up on any other sites, so you will need to track these opportunities yourself.
If you would like more information about government contracting, or submitting a government proposal, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org call me at (734) 961-0408.
Photo Credit: Mike Lawrence, via Flickr