How to Find Federal Government Contracts the Easy Way
Much of what the federal government does is outsourced to companies that specialize in whatever products or services they happen to need. There are many rules and regulations that have been adopted for the sake of transparency and fairness for this process. The federal government procurement procedure is governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). The FAR provides guidelines and contains references for the copious amount of clauses found in federal requests for proposals (or RFPs).
While some RFPs are open to any business that is registered to do business with the government on SAM.gov, others are “set-aside” contracts which are contract opportunities specifically earmarked for disadvantaged businesses or require unique procurement measures. The types of set-aside contracts you will see for disadvantaged businesses are for members of the 8(a) program, businesses in a technology deprived corridor called a HUBZone, and veteran (VOSB) and/or service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB). You can learn more about these designations on the Small Business Administration’s website and see if you may qualify.
Other set-aside contracts include competitive set-aside contracts and sole-source set-aside contracts. Competitive set-aside contracts are relatively small RFPs with a budget of $150,000 or less. Federal agencies will negotiate with several small businesses that have the capability to handle the work in question. Sole source contracts are bid non-competitively and usually given to a business that the contracting officer (or KO) already has in mind. The KO must outline the reason they have chosen to bid the contract via this method and will put up a public notice with the intention to sole source said contract. Unfortunately when this is done there are few details provided to the public of the requirements and specifics. You will note these contracts in EZGovOpps as the number of bidders is just one.
So you may be wondering where to find federal contracts that your business may be able to submit a proposal for. The first place that potential contractors will visit is Sam.gov. Sam.gov is actually the website where you register your business so that you can compete on contracts. Previously you would be assigned a DUNS number; however the government very recently switched over to the UEI system (or Unique Entity Identifier) which you will be given upon completion of your registration. With number in hand, you’ll be able to search the SAM.gov website for new procurement opportunities.
There are a good amount of RFPs in the SAM.gov repository; however there are also other sources of solicitations such as Navy Electronic Commerce Opportunities (NECO) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition there are websites such as the ARC system for intelligence which is locked down for approved vendors. The General Services Administration (GSA) task orders are also locked down to those who are already approved to be on those vehicles.
While contractors can generally try to get by with Sam.gov, most require better information and additional assistance so they can bid both competitively and effectively. Information valued by seasoned contractors includes details regarding the previous winner of the contract (incumbent), financial details of the previous task orders and scope of the requirement, and how it was previously awarded. In addition, they may want to know the contracting officer’s award history. As you can imagine, having access to this information would help you understand your audience (the KO awarding the contract) and the costing/scope of the previously awarded bid.
As it turns out, none of these items are going to be found on SAM.gov, so those who want this information will subscribe to a market intelligence platform. Market Intelligence can be rather expensive as it requires “boots on the ground” aka real people doing research and contacting the government to get this information. Fortunately, not every market intelligence platform is priced like a BMW. We recommend you try EZGovOpps Market Intelligence for 5 days so you can see the usefulness of having analyst-prepared data. The EZGovOpps platform has all the power and features of more expensive offerings, but also has some nice features the competition doesn’t have, all for a price even the smallest businesses can afford.