Government Contracting FAQs
Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
Do you have questions about government contracting? Wondering who the government purchases from? Is government contracting right for your business? Not sure where to look, how to start, or who to contact? We can help you find the answers needed to succeed.
We highly recommend that you make an appointment with the Procurement Specialist at your closest center to receive individualized assistance for your business.
Who does the federal government purchase from?
The federal government purchases from business of all sizes, located throughout the country, for all types of services – from professional services to commodities. Look for opportunities that you are interested in and see what company was awarded the last contract and the terms – you can search www.usaspending.gov or www.fbo.gov for recent awards.
Who am I competing with locally?
You can find out which local small businesses in your industry have registered to be able to sell to the government at the System for Award Management (SAM) website. https://www.sam.gov
What are some of the steps for applying for and securing a contract?
- Get a DUNS number
- Find your NAICS codes and Product Service Codes
- Register with the System for Award Management (SAM)
- Work with a Procurement Specialist
- Search bids
- Go after opportunities
- Seek sub-contracting or partnering opportunities
- Build relationships
- Attend classes and networking opportunities
- It is ok to start with a smaller contract than you would prefer. It will build past performance.
- Take reasonable steps. If you are at $50,000 in sales, don’t take on a $300,000 contract unless you are partnering with someone or have done it before in another capacity.
- Don’t stretch yourself too thin. Remember past performance is important. You can also run out of cash.
How do I leverage my business for competitive bids?
- Be prepared – know if what you offer is publicly bid and when it is expected to go out next.
- Know your competition and the needs of the agency.
- Know HOW the bid usually goes out. If it is narrow in scope (say only X manufacturer), let the contracting officer know the value of competitive products with a proven history. If they want the same scope, see if you can create new relationships before the bid goes out.
What can I do to help promote my business?
- When talking to someone who can make referrals, make sure the person you are talking to understands what your business does and who would be interested in it (don’t assume they will know).
- Work with the person you are talking with to determine if you offer a product or service that is being purchased within their dollar thresholds. Keep in mind there are often publicly bid contracts for frequent purchases.
- If you have existing contracts with other agencies – BRING A COPY!! If you have other customers that show you can perform – share a list of customers/completed projects. Your past successes will help you.
- Identify the agency’s process for accessing the individuals you want to promote to and provide your information in a clear format that clearly describes your capabilities.
I applied for a contract and was not successful. Now what do I do?
- Always request a debriefing.
- Ask who won the contract.
- Ask how you can improve for the next opportunity.
- Ask about what future opportunities will be available.
- If you feel there are opportunities with that agency for small purchases with companies like yours and you feel your contact was not interested in your business, identify if cold calling purchasing/departments would be appropriate. You can often find these contacts by doing creative searches on their websites or calling the general number on their website.
- Build relationships (support their goals; don’t do pressure sales).
- If all else fails, review your marketing plan.