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How to Get a Federal Government Contract

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Contracting is a tricky space, but one that’s filled with massive income opportunities. In fact, not many business owners realize that the US federal government is one of the biggest customers they can have. For more perspective, they sign over 11 million contracts each year. In fiscal year 2023, the federal government awarded a record $765 billion in contracts, a 9.5% increase over the previous year. The Department of Defense accounted for 61% of these awards. This highlights the growth in areas like defense procurement, technology, and space program

So, how to get a government contract? As attractive as this business opportunity sounds, the process isn’t as easy. Given the competition from other businesses and strict rules to comply with, you’ll need an effective strategy to stand out and win contracts. Below are tips to help you bid for the right contracts and create winning proposals.

Contents

Follow the requirements to become a contractor

Before anything else, you must fulfill all the requirements to become a government contractor. To start, register your company at the System for Award Management (SAM) to receive a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI). SAM is the official government portal and database to find contract opportunities and send proposals. Take note that registering and signing up on the website are different, so you’ll need to register to be able to bid on contracts.

Next, find your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code based on your products or services. Then, use the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Size Standards Tool to know if your entity qualifies as a small business for contracting.

Choose the right contracts to bid on

One of the most common mistakes new contractors make is bidding on every federal contract. It’s normal to want to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. However, sending contract proposals for all projects isn’t the way to go. Creating a bid takes time since you need to show what value you deliver and prove that you’re qualified for the job.

Thus, you should filter your opportunities and focus on the prospects with the most potential. Bidding on too many can compromise the quality of your proposals, affecting your chances of landing the contract. That’s why it’s ultimately best to have a targeted approach to bidding. Think of it this way—you’ll have better chances if you send two well-crafted proposals within your expertise instead of ten rushed proposals in all different fields.

how to get a government contract

 

Read the RFP document carefully

The Request for Proposal (RFP) is the document posted by federal agencies when seeking contractors. It contains all the requirements, including the project details, timeline, statement of work, formatting rules, evaluation criteria, and other conditions. While the RFP tends to be long, you shouldn’t just skim through it as you risk missing crucial information needed in your proposal.

Even the smallest details make a difference, so taking the time to read the RFP allows you to follow all the instructions to the dot. Otherwise, you risk getting your proposal eliminated from the pile and not even considered in the selection.

Step-by-Step SAM Registration Guide

Prepare Necessary Information

  • DUNS Number: You’ll need a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. This unique 9-digit identifier is free and can be obtained from Dun & Bradstreet.
  • NAICS Code: Identify your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code that best describes your business.
  • Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Taxpayer Name: This is typically your Employer Identification Number (EIN) or your Social Security Number (SSN) if you’re a sole proprietor.
  • Banking Information: For Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), have your banking information, including bank routing number and account number, ready.

Access SAM Website

    • Go to the SAM website and create a user account. You’ll need to provide an email address and create a password.

Complete the Registration

    • Fill in all required fields in the SAM registration form. This includes business information, CAGE/NCAGE code, general information, financial information, and point of contact details.
    • Ensure the accuracy of all information, especially the legal name and physical address of your business, as it should match your tax records.

Review and Submit

    • Double-check all the entered data for accuracy. Mistakes in the application can lead to delays.
    • Submit the completed form.

Wait for Approval

    • SAM registration may take a few days to several weeks to process. You can check the status of your registration on the SAM website.

Common Questions and Pitfalls

  • How long does it take to get a DUNS number?
    • Typically, it takes 1-3 business days to receive a DUNS number.
  • What if I have multiple businesses?
    • Each business entity should have its own DUNS number and separate SAM registration.
  • How often do I need to update my SAM registration?
    • SAM registration must be renewed annually to remain active.
  • Pitfall: Inaccurate or Inconsistent Information
    • Ensure that all information matches across different platforms (IRS records, DUNS, SAM). Inconsistencies can lead to registration delays or rejections.
  • Pitfall: Overlooking Email Notifications
    • SAM will send notifications to the email address associated with your account. Regularly check this email for any updates or requests for additional information.
  • Pitfall: Falling for Scams
    • Be aware of scams. SAM registration is free, and you should not pay for obtaining a DUNS number or completing the SAM registration.
  • Pitfall: Not Preparing for Security Questions
    • During registration, you’ll be asked to set up security questions. Choose questions and answers that you will remember easily.

Price your goods or services competitively

Pricing is one of the trickiest parts of bidding. If you price your contract too high, your proposal will likely get dismissed for being too expensive and over the government agency’s budget. And if you do the opposite and price too low, the agency may perceive your goods or services as low quality. In some cases, you might beat others and win the contract—but the drawback is lower profit.

This is why market research is an essential part of business development. Doing research beforehand gives you a better idea of the price range for your products and services. This way, you’ll be able to find the optimal price that gives you a good profit while still being competitive with other federal contractors.

Win Federal Contracts with the Help of dasg

Not sure how to get a government contract or where to start? The process is understandably overwhelming, given all the rules and regulations to follow. That’s why dasg is here to guide you through this complex space. We provide contracting assistance to help businesses stay compliant, receive proper support, and win contracts.

This is why market research is an essential part of business development. Doing research beforehand gives you a better idea of the price range for your products and services. This way, you’ll be able to find the optimal price that gives you a good profit while still being competitive with other federal contractors.

With over 75 years of experience in the defense acquisition industry, you can rest assured that our experts will give you valuable advice to succeed in contracting. Call us today at (540) 202-1740 for questions and concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions About Federal Government Contracting:

  1. What are the different types of government contracts?
    • The government utilizes various contract types, including Fixed-Price, Time & Materials, Cost-Reimbursement, Incentive Contracts, and Indefinite Delivery & Quantity Contracts​​.
  2. How can a business become a subcontractor in government contracting?
    • A U.S. subcontractor works under a prime government contractor rather than directly with the federal government. Becoming a subcontractor is a way to enter the government contracting industry and gain experience​​.
  3. What are the steps to becoming a government contractor?
    • To become a government contractor, businesses must decide whether to start as a local or federal contractor, ensure their products/services are in demand, identify their Unique Selling Points (USPs), and conduct background checks on employees​​.
  4. How can I find government contracting opportunities?
    • Government contracting opportunities can be found on websites like SAM.gov, Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS), SubNet, and GSA.gov​​.
  5. What is required to bid on government contracts?
    • To bid on government contracts, businesses must be recognized as government contractors, have a DUNS number, identify their NAICS Code, confirm their business size, and register at SAM​
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