How Can I Win Government Contracts? Part 1
I know the government has specific initiatives to recruit and hire small business contractors for governmental projects but how can I get these jobs? I started my search on this topic at the source, the government. On the SBA website there are tutorials on how to apply for and win government contracts. By taking one of these convenient online courses all of my questions were answered. I want to share some of this information but I would also recommend that anyone interested in acquiring government contracts take this online course themselves.
This first blog will focus on what the market entails and the basics of who can apply for federal contracts. In the second blog I will focus on what you can do to win these contracts for your small business.
The Federal Buying Market
The great news for Americans is that our government is the largest buyer of products and services in the world, and at least 23% of all government purchases are supposed to go to small businesses. Just about every type of small business could qualify and apply for these contracts. Additionally, if you fit into a specialized category of business owner federal agencies are required to fill some of their contracts through those businesses. These special categories are: women-owned, service disabled veteran owned, small disadvantaged businesses, and those located in HUBZones.
How the Government Buys Goods and Services
The government has specific procedures in place to ensure fair awarding practices. These procedures are outlined in the “FAR” document. Federal agencies have several different contracting methods available which I will go into greater detail defining.
- These are for purchases under $3,000. They are not reserved for small businesses and no competition is required.
- Simplified Procedures
- When a purchase needs to be made for fewer than 100,000 the government does not need to have the bidding open to full competition. These purchases are also reserved for small businesses
- Sealed Bidding
- This is a type of competitive buying method used for specific types of purchases. An “Invitation For Bid” or IFB is the method used and the lowest qualified bidder is awarded the contract.
- Contract Negotiations
- This method is preferred by many federal agencies. It is used to contract for specialized products and services, especially those considered highly technical. Typically the final contract will be for over $100,000.
- Consolidated Purchasing Programs
- When several federal agencies have similar needs the government consolidates the purchases to save on costs. For example, all federal agencies have a vehicle fleet, when all the cars for the government are purchased through a single company significant savings can be realized.
I previously mentioned the “FAR” document. The Federal Acquisition Regulation or FAR is a document outlines the “rules” that both the business and the government must play by. The PDF or HTML document can be found online at. The entire document is almost 2000 pages long but fortunately, you don’t have to memorize the whole thing. The key small business parts are: subpart 8.4- Federal Supply Schedules, part 13- Simplified Acquisitions, part 15- Contracting by Negotiation, and part 19- Small Business Programs.
Now that you know a little bit about how the federal government purchases goods and service check back for my next blog on how to apply for these contracts.