First Steps to Government Contracting

FIRST STEPS TO GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING

Though becoming a federal contractor is not easy, it is lucrative. While you may think that only time-tested companies win contracts, businesses new to federal contracting also can — and do — win contracts. We collect below information to read and become familiar with, if you intend to become a federal contractor and bid on contracts. If you have questions about anything you read, please call us at 877-252-2700.

Lesson 1: Market Research

Determine if there is a demand for your company’s products and services in the federal market. Some socioeconomic factors, including if your business is minority-owned, women-owned, or veteran-owned, can help your business stand out. Perform additional research at FBO.gov and by using the Federal Procurement Data System.

Part 1: Registering for FBO.gov.

Part 2: How to Search for Contracts on FBO.gov.

Part 3: Creating an Automatic Email Alert for Bids on FBO.gov

Part 4: Register on FPDS.gov.

Part 5: Using FPDS.gov to Evaluate Competitors and Market Conditions.

Part 6: Using SAM and DSBS to Survey Local Competition.

Part 7: What are IFBs (Invitation for Bid)?

Part 8: What are RFPs (Request for Proposal)?

Part 9: What are RFQs (Request for Quotation)?

Part 10: What are RFIs (Request for Information)?

Part 11: Using USAspending.gov to Assess Profitability.

Part 12: Searching the GSA Library.

Part 13: Using Wide Area Work Flow (WAWF)

Part 14: FedBid – Online Marketplace for Procurement

Part 15: Using The DLA Internet Bid Board (DIBBS)

Part 16: Using DoD TechMatch: the Department of Defense Procurement Web Portal

Part 17: DLA Web Gateway

Part 18: Army Single Face to Industry (ASFI)

Lesson 1 Part 2: GWAC Programs

Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) are Information Technology services procured from the General Services Administration (GSA). Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) enable federal agencies to buy cost-effective, innovative solutions for information technology (IT) requirements. GWACs provide access to IT solutions, such as systems design, software engineering, information assurance, and enterprise architecture solutions. Small business set-aside GWACs also provide socioeconomic credit.

Access to exceptionally qualified IT service providers enabling innovative solutions at competitive prices.  GWACs facilitate a total integrated solution on a single task order by providing access to ancillary support, such as products and services integral and necessary to an IT effort. GWACs are pre-competed contracts offering a full range of contract types (all types of fixed-price, cost-reimbursement, labor-hour, and time-and-materials) to make your procurement planning easier. GWAC task orders can be issued in considerably less time than conventional open market procurements.

Part 1: OASIS Small Business (SB) Program – One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services

Part 2: NASA SEWP – Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement

Part 3: How to Register in the GSA’s IT Solution Shop (ITSS)

Part 4: How to Register in the GSA’s E-MORRIS, MORRIS & Networx

Part 5: Army Single Face to Industry (ASFI)

Part 6: 8a STARS II

Part 7: Alliant & Alliant Small Business

Part 8: VETS – Veterans Technology Services

Part 9: HUBZone – for Information Technology

Part 10: ACES – Access Certificates for Electronic Services

Part 11: GWAC Dashboards

Part 12: GSA’s IT Solutions Navigator 

Lesson 2: Proper Registration

Before you can work with the federal government, you MUST have an active, complete, and correct System for Award Management (SAM) Registration. Completing this Registration is free, but can take upward of 20 hours to do. Third-party government registration firms like US Federal Contractor Registration charges a nominal fee to complete the Registration for its clients. Not only does this save a business time, it also ensures that the Registration will be complete, correct, and active, which lets them start bidding on contracts immediately.

GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING TIPS

Part 1: Understanding Federal Contractor Registration Requirements.

Part 2: Understanding D&B and how to Obtain a DUNS number for Government Contracting.

Part 3: What are NAICS Codes?

Part 4: What is a CAGE Code? 

Part 5: Receiving a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from the IRS

Part: 6: How to Register in System for Award Management (SAM)

Part 7: Accessing User Manuals and Guides to Perform SAM Registration.

Part 8: What is an MPIN?

Part 9: Understanding GSA Registration Basics.

Part 10: Grants.gov for NonProfit, Government, Educational, and Other Organizations

Part 11: What is a National Stock Number (NSN)?

Part 12: DSBS Registration.

Part 2: Qualifying Your Small Business for Federal Set-Asides

Part 1: Download your Free Federal Set-Aside Packet

Part 2: What are Simplified Acquisition Threshold Contracts?

Part 3: Do you Qualify for 8(a) Certification?

Part 4: 8(a) Certification Application Overview.

Part 5: Do you Qualify for the HUBZone Empowerment Program?

Part 6: Do you Qualify as a Woman-Owned Small Business/Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business?

Part 7: Do you Qualify as a Veteran Owned Small Business/Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business?

Part 8: Are you a Small Business?

Lesson 3: Government Marketing

Government MarketingYou must complete your Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) profile after you’re registered in the SAM. Many vendors skip this step, since it’s optional. The DSBS links to other government databases to give agencies a better picture of your company’s capabilities.  You also must launch an aggressive targeted marketing campaign, which must include the distribution of your Capabilities Statement as well as efforts to build relationships with procurement officers. Finally, apply for any applicable and relevant set-aside statuses and programs.

Part 1: Understanding the Capabilities Statement.

Part 2: Drafting a Capabilities Statement.

Part 3: Defining a Target Market.

Part 4: The Importance of Branding.

Part 5: Launching an Accessible Contractor Website

Lesson 4: Sub-Contracting

Subcontracting and TeamingIf you’re new to government contracting or a smaller firm, don’t overlook sub-contracting and teaming opportunities. Prime contractors who have contracts exceeding $500,000 are required by law to offer subcontracting opportunities to small businesses. You can find subcontracting opportunities in the GSA’s Subcontracting Directory and on the SBA’s SUB-Net page. Not only are subcontracting opportunities lucrative, but they also can help a business build its reputation and gain valuable experience.

Part 1: What is Subcontracting?

Part 2: How to Search for Subcontracting Opportunities.

Part 3: What is a FFATA Report in the Sub-Award Reporting System (FSRS)

Part 4: Understanding an Individual Subcontract Report (ISR)

Lesson 5: Bidding on Contracts


After researching the federal market, completing your SAM Registration, launching your marketing campaign, and researching possible subcontracting opportunities, it may be time to bid on your first contract. Successful contractors are patient and persistent; don’t be discouraged if your first attempt(s) don’t pan out. Building relationships with government agencies and procurement officers in your region, and even with other businesses, is key and often critical to a contractor’s success. Attend networking seminars and workshops, and reach out to procurement officers in your area.

Part 1: Basics to Bidding on Contracts.

Part 2: Bidding Strategies.

Part 3: Why did I Lose my Bid?

Part 4: How to Find Available Federal Set-Asides up for Bid

Lesson 6: Keeping Your Business Updated

Federal SubcontractorsDoesn’t matter how competitive your bid is or how close you’ve become with a procurement officer — if your SAM Registration is not current, complete, correct, and active, then you will not qualify for the contract. You also MUST update your capabilities statement each time you win a contract and/or gain experience (often referred to as past performance).

Part 1: Renewing Your Government Registration

Part 2: Changing Your Business’s POC (Point of Contact) Information

Part 3: Updating Financial Information on Your Government Registration

Other Resources

Part 1:  Federal Help Desk