It is important for small business owners to understand how to procure government contracts the proper way in order to avoid sending proposals for contract opportunities that are not a good fit or losing an excessive number of bids. This review discusses the steps you can take to procure government contracts in the most successful manner possible.
A Step-By-Step Guide: How To Procure Government Contracts
Government contract procurement looks different for small businesses than for large companies such as Boeing. As a small business, it is helpful to have a process you use for procuring government contracts.
The process may look different for every small business according to the services they provide and their preferences for sending proposals. However, the following is a six-step general guide to help you procure government contracts.
Search Databases For Contract Opportunities
There are various databases you can use to procure contracts with government agencies. Databases are a great place to start when searching for requests for proposal (RFPs) for which you are qualified. Specifically for small businesses, there is the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS).
This is the Small Business Association’s (SBA) database which helps connect government agencies with small business contractors for upcoming contracts. Small businesses can use this database to find subcontractors as well. You must create a comprehensive business profile with the System for Award Management (SAM) to use the DSBS database.
Check SAM.gov For Contract Opportunities
You can also check the SAM.gov website directly to search for contract opportunities that are posted by government agencies such as the General Services Administration (GSA), Department of Defense (DOD), and more. You can find the search for contract opportunities on the SAM.gov website here.
According to the Small Business Association, government agencies are required to use SAM to advertise all contracts that are valued over $25,000, whereas the SBA directory may advertise smaller contracts.
Obtain A Schedule With The GSA
The GSA is responsible for connecting government agencies with contractors. A GSA schedule means that you are eligible to work for government agencies, and the schedule can make the procurement process easier for both your small business and the agency that is interested in acquiring your goods or services.
The SBA recommends a past performance evaluation for government contractors who are interested in obtaining a GSA schedule. Contractors who are able to get on a GSA schedule must follow regulatory compliance which includes having adequate financial resources and proper accounting systems.
Find Opportunities Through Subcontracting Directories
Subcontracting opportunities are great for small businesses, especially for those that have not been able to procure prime contracts with government agencies at the rate they would like. A government subcontractor may be needed by a prime contractor to complete work that is outside of the prime contractor’s specialty or to help meet the contract deadline and requirements. In many cases, they do not carry as much risk as the prime contractor.
There are many ways to access subcontracting opportunities. For instance, SubNet is a database of subcontracting opportunities on the SBA website. The opportunities are posted by prime contractors who are searching for subcontractors to help with contracts issued by government agencies.
The SBA also provides a list of prime contractors that have subcontracting plans. Additionally, the GSA has a subcontracting directory for small businesses. Finally, the Department of Defense (DOD) offers a subcontracting directory for small businesses as well.
Conduct Research And Find Ways To Market Your Business
The key to marketing your small business’s services or goods to government agencies and/or prime contractors is to understand what the needs are and demonstrate how your business can fulfill the needs. One way to do this is to review past contracts and their awardees.
You can do this through the Federal Procurement Data System and USASpending.gov. By reviewing awarded contracts similar to those you are interested in, you can improve your procurement strategy.
Submit A Proposal For Contracts Your Small Business Is Qualified For
Once you have found the right prime contracts or subcontracts for your small business, you can begin to submit to requests for proposals (RFPs) posted by government agencies. After you submit your proposal or bid, you should hear back from the contracting officer either directly or via an automated system.
The contracting officer may call you to clarify and/or negotiate details of your proposal; it is a good sign if you hear directly from the contracting officer to negotiate and discuss details of the contract.