Recent Posts In: Government Contracting

Capability Statement 101: Communicating Your Experience To A Government Agency

When working with Florida businesses, the government contracting experts at the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) are often asked about how to connect with government decision makers in securing contracts at the federal, state, and local level. 

While there are many commonalities between government contracting and doing business commercially, such as needing a website, business cards, and to market your business, there are certain nuances unique to government contracting, including needing a capabilities statement. 

A capabilities statement is very similar to a resume. It communicates the capabilities of your business and highlights why a government agency should buy from you. It includes: 

  • Your contact information
  • Your previous experience and where you’ve sold before
  • A description of your business and capabilities
  • Customer testimonials or kudos you’ve received for past performance 

Additionally, it includes information unique to government contracting, including your discriminators, your business codes, and your certifications. 

Discriminators are what make your business stand apart—whether your product or service is more economical, better quality, etc. Your capabilities statement also includes your business codes. These are unique identifiers that communicate what product or service your company offers. The State of Florida uses United Nations Standard Products and Services Codes (UNSPSC), an eight-digital code that breaks down into four levels of hierarchy: segment, family, class, and commodity. Lastly, there are preferred small business certifications for certain socio-economic groups that can provide you with more opportunities to win contracts, including if your business is minority-, women-, or veteran-owned. 

Part of a national network, the Florida PTAC offers a team of procurement specialists, many of whom are former government decision makers and government contractors, who provide technical assistance and advice—at no-cost. As part of our service offering, we can help your company determine what certifications are available to you, identify the proper codes, secure small business certifications, and develop your capability statement. Best of all, we’re a no-cost service to you. 

Additionally, PTACs offer dozens of workshops throughout the year. The Florida PTAC at the University of North Florida will host a no-cost, virtual webinar on developing a capability statement Thursday, October 21 at 1:00 p.m. EST. To register, please click here.To learn more, and to schedule an appointment with a Florida PTAC near you, please visit

Doubling Down On The Government Marketplace May Save Your Business

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on many businesses, the government is still spending money. History has shown us that in times of recession, the Federal government spends even more money than usual in hopes of reviving the economy. Take the so-called “Great Recession” of 2008, for example. In response, the government passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, an $800 billion stimulus package designed to save jobs and boost the economy. Some federal contractors did not only survive “The Great Recession” but had their best years ever. Unfortunately, many businesses on the outside of the Federal market struggled to stay afloat.

On March 27th, 2020, the Feds passed the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the Cares Act, thus providing an unprecedented $2.2 trillion in stimulus funding with more in the works. Much of the news regarding this stimulus funding has been around SBA loans and direct payments to individuals, which is not surprising since it affects the larger part of the population. But what the news media have been relatively quiet about are the provisions in the Act to keep the government contracting base stable (check out the recommended readings below for details). Have you heard the recent talks about an infrastructure spending bill to further boost the economy? If you have anything to do with construction – you are in luck. Opportunities may be knocking on your door sooner than you think, of course assuming you’ve already positioned yourself as a reliable and trustworthy contractor.

So, what does this mean for you?

The Federal marketplace is not a lifeboat – you don’t reach for it when your business is about to go down. You have to get your foot in the door in good times so it will be there for you when things get bad. And they will. Recession is a natural economic phenomenon that has many triggers, so the question is not “IF” it’s coming but ‘WHEN.”

If you’ve been enjoying success in the commercial sector – that’s great. But you’re leaving yourself exposed to the harmful effects of a recession. The demand in the commercial sector depends mainly on consumer spending, which tends to dry up in bad economic times. To protect your business, you should diversify your revenue streams, and what’s a better way to do it than federal contracting? The demand in the Federal marketplace depends entirely on federal spending, which tends to spike when the economy tanks.

Yes, federal contracting is not a piece of cake. It can be complicated and even frustrating at times. But there are people who can help you figure it out and become successful at winning government contracts. Reach out to your Florida PTAC and schedule a counseling session, if you have not done this in a while. It’s your choice, are you going to be a player or a spectator?

FBO.GOV Has Moved

On November 12th, 2019, FBO.Gov was retired, and beta.SAM.Gov is the new authoritative source for Contract Opportunities. For the most part, the transition appears to have gone smoothly, according to GSA (click here to listen to a recent interview with a GSA senior executive on the Federal News Network about the current status of “Contract Opportunities” at BETA.SAM.GOV). There are additional resources posted at the beta.SAM.Gov website to provide information and training for contractors. For your convenience, we have listed direct links to some of these resources below.

We will post additional information, tips, and future updates about the new Contract Opportunities website – so, stay tuned!

If you have ideas or suggestions for improvement,  please use the “provide feedback” button on the website.

If you would like to find small business events and vendor collaboration opportunities, look for these specific links toward the top of the page when you visit the Contracting Opportunities page on the beta.SAM.Gov website. If you are logged in, you can save these searches after clicking on the applicable links to quickly access these opportunities in the future.

New Website Helps You Find Great Govcon Podcast!

If you enjoy listening to podcasts on the way to work, check out This is a relatively new website that features a collection of some of the nation’s top podcasts and information from top experts in government contracting. A great way to learn on the go!

Department of Energy – SBIR/ STTR Phase 0 Assistance Program

In November, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will launch the tenth round of its SBIR/STTR Phase 0 Assistance Program to coincide with the November 12, 2019 announcement of the FY2020 Phase I Release 2 SBIR/STTR Topics. The program is aimed at helping eligible small R&D businesses and individuals successfully apply for SBIR/STTR federal funding from the DOE. Since the program is entirely funded by the DOE, these services are AT NO COST TO PARTICIPANTS. The goal of this program is to increase the number of responsive, high-quality Phase I proposals submitted to the DOE from all first-time DOE SBIR/STTR applicants.

Companies and researchers planning to form a company may apply for services directly by completing a simple online form available at Registration for this round of the DOE Phase 0 Assistance program will begin November 12, 2019. Applicants will subsequently be contacted by a representative of the DOE Phase 0 Assistance Program to affirm that they meet the additional criteria specified by the DOE.

With the upcoming DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to be released on December 16, 2019 we anticipate providing services to 100 or more Phase 0 participants. Potential applicants are encouraged to find out more about the DOE Phase 0 Assistance Program at Recognizing that multiple states already offer some level of assistance to their SBIR/STTR applicants, the DOE Phase 0 Assistance Program is designed to complement services already offered by existing professional organizations, SBDCs, universities, incubators, and other state organizations. The services offered by the DOE SBIR/STTR Phase 0 Assistance Program are also available to eligible, qualified individuals who commit to form a company should they win a DOE SBIR/ STTR Phase I award.

Eligible parties may receive one or more specialized services following an initial assessment by a member of the Dawnbreaker team. The services include:

  1. Letter of Intent (LOI) review;
  2. Phase I proposal preparation, review and registration assistance;
  3. Market research assistance;
  4. Technology advice and consultation;
  5. Intellectual property consultation;
  6. Indirect rates and financials;
  7. Travel assistance.

As part of this initiative, Online Tutorials covering all aspects of the DOE SBIR/STTR Phase I application process are available at The Online Tutorials will provide training on application preparation for individuals interested in preparing a DOE SBIR/STTR Phase I proposal and will be available nationally at no charge to everyone.

For more information on the DOE Phase 0 initiative, please visit:

Process for Accessing Item Technical Data within cFolders Subject to Export Control

In October 2019, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) will institute a single process for accessing technical data within its Collaboration Folders (cFolders) that is subject to export-control under either the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) or the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). DLA will limit distribution of the export-controlled technical data to DLA suppliers that have an approved US/Canada Joint Certification Program (JCP) certification; completed the “Introduction to Proper Handling of DOD Export Controlled Technical Data Training”; the DLA “Export-Controlled Technical Data Questionnaire”; and have been approved by the DLA controlling authority to access the export-controlled data.

Instructions for obtaining access to DLA export-controlled data can be found at:

How To Protect Yourself Against Scams And Snake Oil Salesmen

There are many great people supporting businesses in the government marketplace – from for-profits and non-profits to universities and government agencies. Unfortunately, there are also as many scam artists and snake oil salesmen lurking in the shadows. They want to sell you the magic pill to success but at the end of the day, take your money and leave you frustrated with the results. Here are some tips to help you save money and keep your peace of mind.

  1. Before you spend your money on services, check with your PTAC consultant. We may have just what you need or will point you in the right direction.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. When you see or hear things like “we guarantee a contract” or “if you would like a 5-year no-bid contract with the federal government, call us,” be cautious. Snake oil salesmen are very sneaky. Even if they “get you a contract,” that doesn’t mean you will be awarded dollars under this contract if it’s not right for you. We see this happen quite often with companies that get onto a GSA schedule and make no sales.
  3. Beware of scams! If you receive an email from a government agency or visit a website that looks like an official government website, look for the .gov extension in the email address or the URL. There are plenty of impersonators out there. In fact, each year when disaster strikes, scams like “Get registered with FEMA” start popping up on the Internet. This problem is so prevalent that FEMA has established a “FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline.” That number is 1-866-720-5721. Unfortunately, this is just one example of scams that can trap the unwary.

With a little caution, due diligence, and guidance from your PTAC, you can navigate around scams and snake oil salesmen to find credible resources that will help you in your journey.

8 Government Contracting Errors to Avoid

8 Government Contracting Errors to Avoid Photo








by Yolanda Cowart, Florida PTAC at USF | February 22, 2019

Why do so many businesses fail to access the federal marketplace?
The spending power of the federal government makes it a very attractive market. However, operating a profitable business in the federal marketplace creates obligations, potential liabilities and risks that do not exist in the private sector.

In order to sell products and services to the government, a business owner will need to plan, prepare and evaluate the company’s potential.

There are several reasons why business owners fail to secure government contracts or fail while performing on federal government projects. In order to give a company a fighting chance, avoid these eight common mistakes:

  1. Inadequate business framework: Accessing government contracts requires a blueprint for success. In order to compete successfully, a business owner will need to create a business plan for government contracting goals. A well thought out strategy forces one to think about opportunities, risks, strengths, and weaknesses.
  2. Poor execution and internal controls: Government contracts require intelligent processes and procedures. Business owners must adopt safeguards that will protect not only their business, but the government from mistakes, mishaps, uninformed decisions, and inappropriate actions by any employees or team members.
  3. Overexpansion: Government contracts often require business owners to beef up their operations. Taking on added overhead and operational expenses too soon can impact the ability to perform and execute contracts efficiently. Business owners should start with realistic goals and manage growth and expectations.
  4. Poor capital structure: A business owner should conduct a cash flow analysis and cash flow projection in order to avoid accumulating too much debt. Government contracts will have a direct impact on a company’s cash flow cycle. It requires a capital structure that can support growth and sustain an entire operation until the government pays.
  5. Lack of reserve funds: Government awards are often accompanied by unexpected cost associated with executing contracts, fulfilling orders and meeting demands. These pitfalls could be devastating for a business if the company does not have the funds to address unforeseen cost quickly. Failure to be able to address issues fast and efficiently could result in the loss of credibility with the contract administrator and ruin the potential for future awards.
  6. Overspending: Many businesses blow their operational budgets before cash has begun to flow in at a positive rate. A company must ensure a government contract will be well-capitalized. Understanding cash flow by capturing expenses and resources prior to beginning a project, will ensure the contract is capitalized properly.
  7. Ineffective marketing and self-promotion: It is important for a business owner to learn how to market the company’s capabilities effectively. A strong Capabilities Statement will help gain the attention of contract specialists. Inadequate marketing often occurs due to a lack of research and a misunderstanding about how the federal sector operates.
  8. Underestimating the competition: There is a large possibility that many competitors may have already built relationships with government agencies, prime contractors and contract specialists. Winning a government contract doesn’t just happen; it is earned. If a business owner doesn’t take the time to learn about customers and potential partners, the competition will.

Successful government contractors have strong capital structures that include reserve funds for unforeseen cost. They also have good internal controls and intelligent processes and procedures that allow them to execute contracts efficiently. An adequate business framework will avoid overexpansion and overspending.

The federal landscape is filled with small companies that fail to secure that first contract. In order to sell your products and services to the government and successfully execute contracts, you will need to understand your competition, create a marketing plan, prepare your operations and evaluate your potential.

There are a number of local resources available, such as the professionally credentialed procurement specialists at the Florida PTACs, that can assist companies as they decide to enter the government contracting arena.

Federal Contracting: Getting Your Foot in the Door

Written by Nancy Dahlberg on April 22, 2019

If you are a small business that has determined federal contracting may be right for you and you have identified some potential contracts to pursue, you need put your best foot forward to get in the door.

By now we hope you have read our two previous posts about whether federal contracting is right for your business and on researching contracting opportunities.  If it is time to get your foot in the door, many of these tips will also be helpful if you are going after state or local government contracting opportunities also.

Each federal agency has a small business office (OSDBU) to ensure agencies fools small business rules and regulations – they are not buyers but should be your first stop at an agency. Brian Van Hook, associate director of the Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within FIU’s College of Business, recommends already having completed your SAM registration and having three opportunities in hand as well as your financial plan. Ask the OSDBU for an email introduction to the Contracting Officer. Ask the Contracting Officer for a capability briefing and schedule monthly marketing outreaches. Program Managers also have agency knowledge and may be able to offer value to the solution you are offering to the agency.

Be proactive in marketing your products or services, says Luis Batista, a Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center consultant who specializes in government contracting. While your ability to respond to opportunities will depend on what opportunities are available via solicitations, Batista says “proactively” marketing your products or services to Contracting Officers (where appropriate), user departments, Primes and other government contractors will be critical to your success.

One example of this would be to reach out to vendors being awarded large contracts in your area of work for subcontracting opportunities, Batista said. Another example might be to reach out to large Primes within your area of work, which you can identify via

“The takeaway here is that while you are not responding to solicitations you should be networking,” says Batista.

And about putting your best foot forward?

  • Make a good first impression. Be professional (including using an email address affiliated with your website – no yahoo or Gmail accounts) and triple check for typos.
  • Make sure your company website is updated and typo-free.
  • Know your company’s sweet spot and lead with you and your company’s expertise and experience. Emphasize your ability to mitigate risk and overcome obstacles.

And as a quick review, Althea Harris, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s assistant district director for Marketing and Outreach Area 1 (Miami), adds this advice as you are developing your contracting strategy and considering opportunties:












Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) can provide no-cost assistance to small businesses looking to compete for government contracts, including through its BidMatch program. You can locate the PTAC closest to you at the Association for Procurement Technical Assistance Centers Website:

How to Find Federal Government Contracting Opportunities

Written by Nancy Dahlberg on April 19, 2019

While small businesses may have been spooked by the recent government shutdown, you should know that the federal government is the largest buyer in the U.S., spending billions of dollars annually on products and services in construction, R&D, manufacturing, logistics, IT and other industries. Federal agencies also have prime contracting goals for small businesses and set-asides in a variety of categories, such as for women-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned small businesses.

Last year, the federal government met its small business federal contracting goal for the fifth consecutive year, awarding nearly 24% in federal contract dollars to small businesses totaling $105.7 billion, an annual increase of $5 billion and up more than $20 billion since 2013.

So how do small businesses get a piece of that pie? In a recent GrowBiz post, we gave you some advice on determining whether government contracting is right for you. You can find it here. Ready to pursue federal government contracting opportunities?

It’s a process, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, says Brian Van Hook, associate director of Florida SBDC at FIU, a Florida Small Business Development Center within FIU’s College of Business. “You have to understand it is the federal government and there is paperwork involved, but the government has made a lot of effort to streamline processes and to make things more responsive. And that’s why programs like SBDC and PTAC are out there — we are here to help people to pursue these opportunities.”

PTACs, or Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, can provide no-cost assistance to small businesses looking to compete for government contracts. PTAC consultants work with a small business on researching opportunities – including through its BidMatch service —  as well as provide feedback on the business’ capability statement, proposal and overall strategy. “We can help them work smarter not harder, basically coming up with a more tailored strategy,” said Van Hook.

SBDC consultants can also help small businesses seeking government contracting in a variety of ways. “Some businesses have a great game plan when it comes to contracting but they need working capital until they receive payment.  We have other consultants who can help with the operations side or HR as businesses ramp up to service a big contract. That’s where PTAC and SBDC work hand-in-hand to help out the business owner.”

Van Hook, who previously worked for the U.S. Commerce Department and on Capitol Hill, said small businesses need to do their homework and be prepared to follow up. That includes developing your plan for entering the marketplace, completing the required registrations, developing marketing tools and securing relevant certifications.

Althea Harris, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s assistant district director for Marketing and Outreach Area 1 (Miami), agreed.

“Small businesses have to do their research and they have to strategize. It’s very important to be ready and part of that means being financially ready. You have to be able to afford the contract you want, you have to make payroll before the government or a prime contractor pays you. It means you have the right employees in the place or you know how to employ them quickly,” Harris said.

“Being ready also means understanding what value you bring to the proposition, and not everyone is able to articulate that in a way that is compelling. In what way are you distinctly different and better than your competitors? Be very targeted about the contracts you are going after. Understand what it will cost you to pursue the contract. It is a business proposition to pursue the federal money that will cost you time and money, which is money and money.”


To start your search for opportunities, go to and search for all the federal awards under each and every one of your NAICS codes. These are your potential federal contracting partners, says Van Hook.

Then, do your homework. Once you have your list of potential agency partners, learn what they buy and how much, how they buy it and how much. Are they hitting their small business goals?

Once you have duly registered in, completed an SBA Profile there and created a Capability Statement, you will then want to turn quickly to Capture Management, the function of identifying opportunities, says Luis Batista, a Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center consultant who specializes in government contracting.

As part of your Capture Management process within the federal system, you will first want to register on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website, which lists all open contracting opportunities over $25,000 across multiple federal government agencies. While on FedBizOpps, you can create an account and have your own custom “My FBO” home page with Quick Links and Quick Search, Batista says.

“What is important to understand here is that you do not need to respond to opportunities by yourself.  If you are new to federal contracting, you can use the Interested Vendors section on any given opportunity (where available on to both list yourself and find others that you may be able to work “with” as a Teaming Partner or “for” as a Subcontractor,” Batista says.  “The key to finding Teaming partners is identifying what they have that you need and what you have that they need.  This may be a Set-Aside and only one of you may have that certification, or it may be a question of capital, experience, geographical location, or other factors.”

FBO also offers the Vendor Collaboration Central Event Listing, which allows small businesses to find and participate in federal agency collaboration or engagement opportunities. The Small Business Events for Outreach and Training publishes events across the country from many agencies and organizations.


Many vendors find subcontracting a preferable route to getting experience as a federal contractor. Large business prime contractors with contracts expected to exceed $700,000 (or exceeding $1.5M for construction) are required to subcontract some of the work to eligible small businesses. This is an excellent way to test the waters of federal business without suffering undue risk, Batista says.

Another advantage is that subcontracting doesn’t require a subcontractor to hold a Schedules contract. When a small business receives a subcontract from a larger prime contractor, the vetting process is done by the Prime, not the Agency.

In addition to small business set-aside subcontracting opportunities, qualified small businesses that meet various socioeconomic criteria are eligible to compete for additional set-aside opportunities, after obtaining certification from the Small Business Administration (SBA) where it is required. Set-aside categories include 8(a) Small Business, Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Small Business; Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB); and Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB). Read more about Set-Asides and Special Interest Groups for additional information here.

You can locate the PTAC closest to you at the Association for Procurement Technical Assistance Centers Website: