Government Contracting 1.0

Guest blog post by Adam Williamson of Road Map Consulting, LLC 

Many businesses operating in the B2B or B2C markets realize the potential of the government market but lack the fundamental knowledge of how to capture business in the B2G market. Understanding the government market is not an easy endeavor, it will take time, patience and will not be without tribulations. Most daunting may be the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) that govern this market, or for some it is yet another acronym in FAR that adds to the hundreds of acronyms that are commonplace in federal contracting.

If you aren’t scared off yet, maybe you have what it takes to earn a piece of the roughly $575 billion pie. In order to win business in this lucrative market a contractor must understand the fundamentals of the procurement process, where to find opportunities and how to market your company.

Fundamentals of Federal Procurement

Unlike the commercial market where a customer can choose to do business with whomever they like at the drop of a dime, the government contracting procurement process is formalized and regulated. There are competition standards that are required to be met and each interested party must submit a formalized proposal, quote or bid. Before you begin submitting bids, it is important to know who the key players are in the process. Here is a brief run-down:

  • Program Manager aka End User or Customer – this is the person(s) that has the need for the goods or services that you are providing and will be evaluating the proposals.
  • Contracting Officer (CO) – the purchasing authority that has a warrant to purchase goods or services. Negotiates pricing and often has final say in who the awarded bidder is.
  • Contracting Specialist (CS) – similar responsibilities as a CO without the warrant. All purchases must be signed by a CO.

As previously mentioned the federal contracting market is regulated by what is called the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). Before submitting bids on government work, familiarize yourself with the FAR; the FAR is what protects you as a contractor. If you cannot afford the time to do so, retain a lawyer that is versed in federal contracting and FAR practice.

Now that you have had an introduction to federal procurement, let’s take a look at:

Where to Find Opportunities

The FAR mandates that the government advertise intentions of purchases, formal requests for quotes and award notices. If you want to know where to find business local to you, from a particular agency or simply view what the government is purchasing your first stop is going to be Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) www.FBO.gov. FBO is essentially the classifieds of government contracting opportunities.

Now that you know where to find current opportunities, how can you find historical data? Your next stop: Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) www.FPDS.gov. Per the FAR (see the trend here) agencies are required to document all awards and information related to them in FPDS. This is a great place for companies to mine the data system to understand an agency’s spending habits. While this system may be a bit difficult to navigate at first, give their help-line a call for assistance - it will pay off.

How to Market Your Company

Resources are always a business’s best friend and there may not be a better one than the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) in each agency. This office is dedicated to being the primary point of contact for small businesses that want to find out more information about an agency or pitch their business. Come prepared with intel on the agency, your marketing material and how you can help the agency meet their goals.

So you know who the key players are in this market, what governs the procurement process, you’ve found out what opportunities the government has out per FBO, how much has been spent this year per FPDS - so what now? Time to win some business! Depending on your industry marketing may be more important in the government market than in commercial markets. It is extremely important to utilize the resources mentioned (and those not) to understand your customer.

While we only touched the surface on the government contracting market you now are equipped with fundamental tools to get your business on the path of acquiring a piece of the $575 Billion pie. 

Topic: BizLaunch
 
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