The United States federal government is required by law to consider buying from small businesses. Small businesses can significantly benefit from contracts with the government. In addition, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers much assistance to small business contractors. Below is a comprehensive explanation of doing business with the US federal government supported by the “Contracting guide” under the Federal Contracting section of the SBA’s website.
ASSESS YOUR BUSINESS
First, a small business owner must evaluate if they sell products or services that the government buys. To assess if there is a market for one’s product or service, the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation is an essential system to consult. Next, to identify government purchasing trends, USASpending.gov is a comprehensive database. Finally, to discover procurement forecasts by various government agencies, one should assess the Agency Recurring Procurement Forecasts.
Registering a small business is essential to sell anything to the government. First, one will need to obtain a Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number, which is a unique nine digit identification number for each physical location of your business. Visit DUNS Request Service to apply for this number. Next, it is necessary to find a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code for the products or services one plans to sell. This code can be found at U.S. Census Bureau. Additionally, one’s business must meet the size requirements as set by the SBA to determine if the business is indeed “small”. The SBA’s Size Standards Tool can assist with this purpose. Furthermore, it is essential to register the business in the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM), which helps government agencies find contractors. Finally,compliance according to the Federal Acquisition Regulation is necessary to participate in government contracting at all.
HOW TO WIN CONTRACTS
The SBA website describes Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) and FedBizOpps.gov as good platforms for small businesses to begin searching for federal contracts to bid on. In addition, the website also suggests that securing a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) as another favorable first step.
TYPES OF CONTRACTS
A variety of methods exist to achieve contracts with the federal government. Sometimes the government will set aside certain contracts for small business only. There are two types of contracts: competitive set-aside contracts and sole-source set-aside contracts. Competitive set-aside contracts are when at least two small businesses could perform the work or provide the products being purchased. Sole-source set-aside contracts are when only a single business can meet the requirements of a contract and can be issued without a competitive bidding process. Additionally, some set-asides are for small businesses in socio-economic categories such as 8(a)small business, Historically Underutilized Business, Women-Owned Business, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business.