Small Business Guide to Getting a Piece of the Federal Contracting Pie
by TiffaniC, Community Moderator
- Created: July 28, 2011, 12:59 pm
- Updated: October 29, 2012, 4:54 pm
By: Tiffani S. Clements
References on this page to the System for Award Management (SAM) will go into effect on July 29, 2012 until then please continue to use the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), and the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), to register your business with the government. SAM will replace CCR & ORCA on July 29, 2012. For more information on SAM visit www.sam.gov. If you or your customers require any assistance (troubleshooting, data concerns, general information, etc.) with SAM contact the Federal Service Desk at fsd.gov or by telephone at 1-866-606-8220.
As a small business owner, have you ever wondered how you could market your product to the likes of the Department of Defense and the Small Business Administration (SBA), get a federal contract and be a part of the more than $400 billion federal marketplace?
While it’s not necessarily easy, and success is not guaranteed, thousands of small businesses have been successful. For example, in FY2010, the federal government purchased nearly $100 billion in goods and services from small businesses through prime contracting procurements.
How Do You Start?
The first step is to register and represent your firm in the System for Award Management (SAM). SAM is an online business portal that helps large and small businesses market their goods and services to the federal government and prime contractors.
Registration is free and voluntary, but any small business interested in doing business with the government must register in the SAM. SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search is a separate interactive database which also contains a search engine function in SAM that permits small firms registered in SAM to post their profiles and capabilities for prospective buyers.
The SBA also offers on-line procurement training courses for small businesses on how to access government contracts and subcontracts. These course are available through SBA.gov's Government Contracting Classroom.
Who Can Provide Guidance on Navigating the Federal Contracting Arena?
The SBA has a secret weapon of its own: Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs). PCRs are procurement professionals who counsel small businesses and make recommendations to contracting officers to reserve or set aside contracts for small, 8(a), women-owned, HUBZone and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned small businesses. They also can help small businesses identify contracting opportunities. A listing of PCRs is at http://www.sba.gov/content/procurement-center-representatives.
More help is available from SBA’s Commercial Market Representatives (CMRs) who are stationed in SBA’s area offices. They help small businesses with marketing to federal prime contractors, conduct contract matchmaking events and counsel small businesses on how to get subcontracts, a good option for small businesses.
Small businesses can find subcontracting opportunities by visiting SBA’s Sub-Net database, a list of subcontracting solicitations and opportunities posted by large prime contractors and other non-federal agencies. State and local governments, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities and foreign governments also use the database to identify small businesses for solicitations. This database can be found at http://www.sba.gov/content/Sub-Net. More information about CMRs can be found at: www.sba.gov/content/commercial-market-representatives.
The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) Council is an organization of federal small business program officials that work closely with SBA. They are a great resource for contracting officers and can help small businesses become prime contractors and subcontractors. They also make small businesses aware of federal contracting opportunities and the federal rules and regulations for contracting. A list of OSDBUS at federal agencies is located at: http://www.osdbu.gov/offices.html.
If you need in-depth counseling on seeking federal or state government contracts, you can turn to Procurement and Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), created by Congress to help businesses compete successfully in federal, state and local government contracting. PTACs – there are 94 of them nationwide -- provide a range of expert services at little or no charge. They help small, minority and woman-owned businesses market to the government. They also help small businesses register with SAM, obtain a Commercial and Government Entity Code and a Duns Number, which is necessary to do business with the government. They also can match a firm’s capability with procurement opportunities and help obtain military and federal specifications and drawings. A list of PTAC organizations is located at: http://www.aptac-us.org/new/
Other federal procurement opportunities can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.fedbizopps.gov/. The site includes a search engine to help you browse the latest contract solicitations. The GSA has also created the Acquisition Central Web site to provide a central and streamlined on-line community where small businesses can get access to resources, including federal regulations, training opportunities and systems such as the SAM database, the Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System (eSRS) and the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG). The Web site is at: http://www.acquisition.gov/.
By using these tools, small businesses can successfully navigate the federal contracting marketplace, become an active participant in the $400 billion dollar federal marketplace and sell their goods and services to Uncle Sam! For more information about SBA’s programs and services, visit SBA’s Web Site at www.sba.gov.
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About the Author
I'm a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Communication & Public Liasion and the media liaison for SBA's Office of Government Contracting.
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