2018 Government Shutdown: Get information about shutdown status, furlough, and more.
LEARN MORE Close

Government Contracting Assistance

U.S. federal government contracts represent a tremendous sales and revenue opportunity for small businesses because:

  • The U.S. Government is the world’s largest customer, purchasing approximately $450 billion in goods and services in 2015.
  • Buys all types of products and services in both large and small quantities.
  • Is required by law to provide opportunities for small businesses.

The main tool the federal government uses to meet its small business goals is contract set-asides. The government can limit competition to only small businesses or only to certain types of small business.

To see whether government contracting is right for your business, learn what you need to get started as a federal contractor and discover government contract opportunities and customers, visit www.sba.gov/contracting/what-government-contracting/overview.


Get Started as a Government Contractor

  • Contact the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC): PTAC can help you with all of the items listed below and more. Their services are generally FREE of charge and the SBA often partners with them on classes and events. In Minnesota, contact Meda PTAC at https://mn.gov/admin/business/vendor-info/ptac/.
  • Determine your NAICS code: The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) assigns a code to every industry. SBA size standards are based on NAICs codes. Find yours here: www.sba.gov/contracting/getting-started-contractor/determine-your-naics-code.
  • Determine if you are a small business: Check www.sba.gov/size.
  • Get a DUNS number: Before you can bid on government proposals, you need to obtain a D-U-N-S, Number for each physical location of your business. Learn more at https://www.sba.gov/contracting/getting-started-contractor/get-d-u-n-s-number
  • Research the government market to determine demand for your product/service: Check USAspending.gov for historical spending; for current contract bid opportunities go to www.fbo.gov/.
  • Register as a government contractor in the System for Award Management (SAM): Every business that wants to sell to the government must register in SAM. Learn more and register at www.sam.gov.
  • Apply for socioeconomic certifications such as 8(a) BD and HUBZone: Some contracts are set-aside for 8(a) BD participants and HUBZone certified small businesses. Go to www.sba.gov/contracting.
  • Become familiar with government contracting rules and practices: Attend workshops and procurement events sponsored by SBA and PTAC. Research regulations and review other online materials to increase your knowledge of procurement practices. Check our Events Calendar at www.sba.gov/mn.

8 (a) Business Development Program

In order to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace, the SBA created the 8(a) Business Development Program. 

  • It offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
  • It is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. The program helps thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in government contracting.
  • Participation in the program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage.
  • Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. While we help 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how, we also encourage them to participate in competitive acquisitions.
  • 8(a) firms are also able to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances the ability of 8(a) firms to perform larger prime contracts and overcome the effects of contract bundling, the combining of two or more contracts together into one large contract. Also, see the Mentor-Protégé Program for more information on allowing starting 8(a) companies to learn from other more experienced businesses.
  • 8(a) participants are also offered specialized business training, counseling, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development provided by the SBA and our resource partners.

To see if you are eligible and learn more about the program, visit www.sba.gov/contracting/government-contracting-programs/8a-business-development-program