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Capability Statements for the Government Marketplace

By: Sherri Komrosky
Business Opportunity Specialist
North Dakota District Office

The U.S. government is the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, awarding billions in annual contracts for various products and services - in both large and small quantities. This presents a profitable opportunity for small businesses as the law requires that at least 23 percent of all federal purchases be fulfilled by small businesses.

Selling in the government marketplace is very competitive and you only have one chance to make a good first impression. There are four key factors to develop so that you will make a favorable impression with a federal agency:

  • Familiarize yourself with the particular agency you are targeting - do they buy what you sell? Sites like www.usa.gov, www.usaspending.gov, FedBizOps at www.fbo.gov and the Federal Procurement Data System at www.fpds.gov include information on agency profiles, government spending, and current opportunities. Agency procurement forecasts can be found at www.acquisition.gov/procurement-forecasts. Forecasts are a list of projects that, if the money is available, government agencies would like to purchase.
  • Have a business card which displays your DUNS, CAGE and NAICS codes.
  • Have a "Capabilities Statement." Selling in the government marketplace is very competitive. A capability statement is a must when trying to reach this market.

What is a Capabilities Statement?
A capability statement is a concise, one page document of your business competencies. Think of it as your business's resume. Its purpose is to provide specific information that will convince potential customers to do business with you. When written well, it will differentiate your business from the competition!

Capability Statement Format
A capability statement should be very brief and specifically related to the needs of the agency you are targeting. Preferably it is only one page, one side. Go to two sides only if absolutely necessary.

Your Capability Statement should be a living document that will change depending on the targeted agency. Develop a master copy that can be tailored to a government sector, project or sources sought notice as needed.

Save the document with your company's name in the file name. Distribute your Capability Statement as a PDF, not in Word, PowerPoint or other format. Many federal agencies block Word and Publisher documents; a PDF file is safer, usually smaller and will stay visually consistent when emailed.

You have limited space, so be sure to stress your competencies, set-aside eligibility and past performance. The five key areas included in a successful effective capability statement are:

  • Core Competencies - this should not be everything your business is able to do. Use bullet points and short statements of your expertise as it relates to your target agency's specific needs.
  • Differentiators - list unique factors and benefits of your products or services that set you apart from the competition. How is your business best suited for the needs of the targeted agency? A clear statement that relates to the specific needs of the agency can help the customer understand why they should choose your firm.
  • Past Performance - list past customers for whom you have done similar work, show benefit to the customer and provide contact reference. Pictures are worth a thousand words and save space if relevant. If past projects do not relate to the targeted agency's needs, do not list them.
  • Company data - include one or two short sentences of your company description, including number of employees and capacity. Also list DUNS, CAGE Code, NAICS codes, and any set-aside eligibility that your business holds, such as Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), 8(a) Certification, HUBZone, or Small Disadvantaged Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB).
  • Contact information - show contact information, including website and specific person's name. Readers will visit your website for more information; make sure it is constantly updated and provide "hot link" for direct access. List a professional email. Government agencies many times block Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail accounts as junk mail. Your internet provider will typically offer professional addresses with your subscription.

Finally, have someone proof-read your Capability Statement and give feedback before sharing with your potential customers. Be sure to check spelling and grammar!

A well-written Capability Statement will open doors to contracting opportunities in the federal government and set you apart from your competitors. It is worth the time and effort to make sure it's done right. Contact your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for sample capability statements, checklists, review and guidance. PTACs are a great free resource! Connect with the North Dakota PTAC at www.ndptac.org. Other PTACS can be located at www.aptac-us.org


Sherri Komrosky is a Business Opportunity Specialist for the North Dakota District Office. In this position, she is responsible for assisting North Dakota small businesses gain access to government contracting opportunities and utilize the federal 8(a) and HUBZone programs. Prior to joining SBA, Sherri was the Minnesota Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Program Director for 10 years; Northern Minnesota Area Manager for 15 years; and with the North Dakota PTAC for 2 years. Her government experience began with the VA Medical Center in Fargo where she held various positions during her 8 years there, many in the procurement area. Sherri can be reached at sherri.komrosky@sba.gov.