12 Steps to doing Business with the Federal Government
Step 1: Identify your NAICS code(s)
It is necessary to know the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code and the Federal Supply Classification (FSC) code for your product or service. Most federal government product/service listings and procurements are identified by these codes.
Step 2: Determine if the Federal Government purchases what you sell
Conducting basic market research in the federal market is relatively stress-free, inexpensive and fast. By accessing the Federal Procurement Data System website you will be able to identify what the government has purchased, which agency bought it, who sold it, how much was the contract for and the effective dates of the award.
Step 3: Obtain a DUNS Number from Dun & Bradstreet
This is a business identification number that is used much like your social security number. This is a cost free service for companies wanting to do business with the federal government. If you do not have one, contact Dun and Bradstreet at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform. If you are unable to obtain the DUNs number through their webpage, feel free to use our DUNs number request form.
Step 4: Register in the System for Award Management (SAM)
You must be registered in SAM to be awarded a contract from any federal civilian or military agency. You can complete this process in www.sam.gov. This is a free service.
Step 5: Determine if your firm qualifies for 8(a), SDB or HUBZone certification
These certifications are detailed at www.sba.gov. Firms with these certifications may compete for set-aside contracts. Check the Table of Small Business Standards to determine if your business is considered small.
Step 6: Begin to search for federal government procurement opportunities
Identify current procurement opportunities in your product or service area by checking at the FedBizOpps website, the federal civilian and military government single point of entry for many opportunities over $25,000. Once you start to search for current open bids you will get a good feel for the market for your products and services.
Step 7: Familiarize yourself with both the federal Civilian and Department of Defense (DoD) contracting legal procedures
The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) are the two main legal regulations for federal acquisitions.
Step 8: Investigate if getting on the GSA Schedule is right for you
Federal agencies can use General Services Administration Federal Supply Service Schedule Contracts to make purchases. These pre-approved contracts are used to buy commonly used products, services, and solutions needed to fulfill their missions and day-to-day operations.
Step 9: Familiarize yourself with the forecasts for your targeted agencies
Each federal agency typically produces an Annual Procurement Forecast as required by the Small Business Act, which is maintained by their Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) or equivalent. Use these forecasts to determine if they are good prospects for you.
Step 10: Explore subcontracting opportunities
Regardless of your product or service, it is important that you do not neglect a very large secondary market - subcontracting opportunities through prime contractors. Although there is no single point of entry for subcontracting opportunities in the federal civilian procurement marketplace, SBA is a valuable source for obtaining information on subcontracting opportunities.
For DoD -The SADBU Website lists all major DoD prime contractors by state and provides a point of contact (Small Business Liaison Officer) within each firm. Investigate potential opportunities with these firms. Many of these firms also have websites that may be useful. Partnering with a prime contractor as their subcontractor can be an excellent entry platform to the federal marketplace.
Step 11: Investigate government programs
There are several SBA programs that may be of interest to you, such as the 8(a) Business Development Mentor-Protégé Program, the Small Business Innovation Research Program, Small Business Technology Transfer Research Program and the Technology Resources Network. www.sba.gov.
There are several DoD programs, some derived from the aforementioned programs, that may also be of interest to you, such as the Mentor-Protégé Program, the Small Business Innovation Research Program, and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions Program. Information on these and other programs is available on the SADBU Website. http://www.acq.osd.mil/sadbu/.
Step 12: Market your firm to the right contacts
Identify your prospective government customers, research their requirements, and familiarize yourself with the procurement regulations and strategies. There are many procuring organizations to consider, and educating yourself about their roles and missions will be no small task, but essential nonetheless.