There are a variety of special federal programs and initiatives designed to benefit small businesses in the government contracting process. In addition, help is available from a variety of public and private sources, including counseling services.
Firms, both large and small, interested in doing business with the federal government must help themselves by learning how the federal government conducts its business and by identifying and seeking out those purchasing offices that buy the products and services they can supply.
However, additional help and advice are available to you as you work through this maze called government contracting. You can get assistance directly from the government as well as from government-sponsored and commercial counseling services as you go through the contracting process.
Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your situation and circumstances, you will have to determine which one or which combination works best for you.
Assistance is also available from federal special small business programs that are designed to encourage participation by small businesses in the government contracting process, including small businesses owned by certain minority and disadvantaged groups. You may also be able to take advantage of programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that are designed to help small businesses market to both large business and government procurements.
Contracting help from the government
There are several ways in which the federal government tries to assist you in finding opportunities and doing business with it. By encouraging participation in the government procurement process, the more potential suppliers there are, the better the chance the government will obtain exactly what it needs at the best possible price. For that reason, there are numerous government websites devoted to government contracting. In addition, there are specialized government personnel available to assist. Government procurement conferences and publications are also valuable resources to a business that wants to sell its products or services to the government.
Obtain contracting information from government websites and personnel
The federal government has more than 4,300 websites, according to a recent GAO report. Fortunately, if you're looking for contract opportunities, you don't have to cover all of those sites.
In order to help companies identify government opportunities and buyers, the government is making a strong effort to reduce the number of locations and to create a more uniform format to simplify the process. The government is looking to establish "gateways" (i.e., websites with multiple links) to make your search easier. There are several already in existence that are being used more and more to post and find opportunities.
Following is a list of the better ones. Remember that these sites will help you find the opportunities, but once you do, you, not the government, will have to do the work.
- FedBizOpps (Federal Business Opportunities): All government procurement opportunities of $25,000 or more are posted here. Here, government buyers are able to publicize their business opportunities by posting information directly to FedBizOpps via the Internet, and commercial companies looking to do business with the government are able to search, monitor, and retrieve opportunities solicited by the entire federal contracting community. (https://beta.sam.gov/)
- Small Business Administration (SBA): This site has a wide range of information pertaining to small businesses as well as SBA-Net, a gateway to resources, opportunities, and networking. Most importantly, it has a direct connect to CCR database, which is fast becoming the sole database used by government buyers to locate potential small business contractors.
- Procurement Gateway: This is the Defense Logistics Agency site for all opportunities from its buying offices.
- Federal Acquisition Jumpstation: Although not a place where opportunities are posted, it has most links to the federal sites that small business owners would have an interest in.
- Recovery.gov – The U.S. government's official website providing easy access to data related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse.
- E-Verify – An Internet-based system that allows an employer, using information reported on an employee's Form I-9, to determine the eligibility of that employee to work in the United States. For most employers, the use of E-Verify is voluntary and limited to determining the employment eligibility of new hires only. To access this site, go to www.wingov.com and click on E-Verify.
- USA.gov – This site has lots for all, personal, business, government employees and visitors to the US. It is also a portal to other government websites that might be of assistance to you. The link for businesses provides info on how to do business with the federal government, Data and Statistics, Laws and Regulations and lots and lots more.
For more government web portals, check out:
- HHS's web portal
- Department of Veteran Affairs
- State and Local Government on the Net
- Library of Congress
There are tons of sites that can help you find what you are looking for, spend some time researching and you will find a wealth of information. For those who are brave, try USA Search.