As a business owner, you know that it takes money to make money. The same applies to government contracting. On paper, all it takes is a registration in the System for Award Management (SAM) and you're ready to submit bids. In reality, it's a lot more complex than that.
Bid training is available for contractors enrolled in the USFCR Academy. This week we covered selling to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).
On this week of USFCR Academy Live, we're covering FAR Part 52. This section includes the Buy American Act. You can sign up to attend on our webinar page and learn more about the Buy American Act in this blog post.
In any system, communication is key. The same applies to when businesses contract with the federal a government. For this blog post, we're going to cover points of contact. Without a firm understanding of this concept, you will be at a disadvantage in the federal marketplace.
“I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts – all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract.”
This apocryphal quote comes from the early days of NASA. Some attribute it to Alan Sheppard. Others claim it was John Glenn.
Either way, no one can agree on who said it or the exact phrasing. What did happen though, was the perpetuation of a government contracting myth: it always comes down to the lowest bidder.
Registration in the System for Award Management (SAM) is the first requirement to bid on U.S. federal contracts. You also need it to get paid by the government as well. In this episode of "The Government Buys...a Podcast," we sit down with USFCR Director of Case Management Jessica Summers about this crucial process for getting started.
What is Login.gov?
Login.gov is a secure authentication service that allows you to access multiple government websites with just one login. It was created by the General Services Administration (GSA) in April of 2017 replacing Connect.gov. As of June 29th, 2018, the System for Award Management (SAM) has suspended all active accounts and require all vendors to create an account to manage their SAM registration.
Request Information on Login.gov
A new vendor’s contracting strategy begins with complete and proper registration. Without a proper SAM registration, the federal government can’t award a contract or make payment. All information should be current, accurate, and match what has been submitted previously to D&B and the IRS.
Success is no accident and neither is failure. When looking at the survival rate of small businesses in the U.S., about 80% of them will make it through their first year. However, within a decade’s time, this rate will drop to a grim 30%.
The Federal Market can seem daunting to businesses just getting started in government contracting. Competition can be fierce and it often seems like the same companies keep winning contracts. The reality is that newcomers do win contracts and find success; however they must use a different strategy than the heavyweights do.
Update April 23, 2020:
For information on COVID-19 related FEMA opportunities, visit this page.
Before and after a disaster strikes, FEMA needs help from vendors like you. For almost a decade after Hurricane Katrina hit, there were still contracts being written for related relief work. With that in mind, there are plenty of opportunities in this sector of government contracting. To gain access to these opportunities, you will need to be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM).
Is it time to rebrand your business? Different from simply freshening up your marketing materials, rebranding means changing the entire "personality" of your business. Your company might be ready for rebranding if:
According the Small Business Administration, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) classifies business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. economy. These codes define establishments based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged. These codes are also used for administrative tasks, contracting, and tax purposes. The SBA uses these codes as a basis for all of its size standards. When the Federal government intends to acquire goods or services from a government contractor, it identifies the codes that describe the principal purpose of that procurement.
We all know their can only be one winner in every competition. In government contracting a procurement officer will only choose one contractor to fulfill their procurement solicitation. When businesses bid on government contracts they run the obvious risk of losing to a business that has been deemed more qualified. It is important that contractors do not give up and request a Contractor Debrief in the wake of their rejected bid. Every business should prepare a number of questions for the procurement officer in order to make sure the best feedback possible is given in return. Finding out every detail to why a business lost the bid can make all the difference in the world for their next bidding opportunity.
Why even become involved in government contracting if you aren't going to market your business? That is the number one thing I tell business owners over the phone right after they have been certified to work for the United States Government. There is no special secret, if you do not market your business to government agencies, you will not win government contracts. Plain and simple. There are many, many ways to begin your federal marketing efforts, and believe it or not they are simple. In fact, some of these strategies are as easy as checking your email and making a few calls. Not preparing your business for the federal marketplace will result in zero activity. Every vendor must become properly registered in all the recommended databases and begin a solid government marketing campaign.
Deciding whether or not you should perform your own System for Award Management (SAM) registration can be a tough pill to swallow. Making the attempt to conduct the process on your own as a brand new user can lead to big mistakes for your business.
When a procurement officer is conducting market research they also have to consider small business federal set-asides. These set-asides help small businesses win government contracts that would normally be given to larger businesses. 23% of the annual federal contracting budget is devoted to small business contract spending. The 'Rule of Two' is used at the discretion of each procurement officer when spending their yearly contract funds. Due to the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, small businesses are set to receive contracts that are between $3,000 and $150,000 automatically.