Are you wondering how to apply for government contracts? Get all the required codes for your products and business (NAICS, DUNS, FEIN, etc.), register online with the System for Award Management (SAM), get your business on the government bidding list, and start bidding.

Government Contracting for Small Businesses

The small business sector is an integral part U.S. economy. Of the annual government spending of over 4 trillion dollars, almost $440 billion goes to small businesses.

Small businesses have a very large market. If you have the determination and patience to work within the ambit of set rules and regulations, pursuing government contracts for the supply of goods and services can be a lucrative business opportunity.

Since the application process for government contracts is quite lengthy and the government hardly ever moves at a high speed, you should plan out your businesses for the long haul.

How to Get Started for Government Contracts

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code

Identify the NAICS code for the product or service you want to sell. You can find the codes on the official website of the North American Industry Classification Systems Association. These codes are based on the industry, country, and economic sector.

The NAICS code is an important factor the government looks at when determining the eligibility of a government contractor. Depending on the type of product or service you offer, you may have to choose more than one NAICS code.

DUNS Number

Apply for a free DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet. It's a unique, nine-digit number that identifies the physical location of your business. Each business location is issued a separate DUNS number. The organization also conducts an Open Ratings Past Performance Evaluation for each DUNS number. This evaluation is comprised of an independent audit of your customer references. A rating is assigned after analyzing your performance data and responses to the survey.

System for Award Management (SAM)

Once you have your NAICS code and DUNS Number ready, register with the SAM website. It's the principal database of vendors maintained by the federal government. Under the Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) system, you must be registered in SAM in order to be considered for a government contract or purchase agreement.

On registering with SAM, you will be given a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code. Government agencies may ask for this code while responding to your solicitations.

Other Requirements

In addition to the above, you should also obtain the following in order to apply for a government contract:

The Process Involved in Government Contracts

In order to obtain a government contract, you must place bids and submit a proposal. However, before being able to submit a proposal, you must be registered in the bidding list or the government's list of vendors.

Bidding List

  • All government agencies, including federal, state, and local, follow a certain bidding process. The bidding process must be fair and it must give bidding opportunity to all qualifying businesses.
  • Your business must qualify for the bidding process.
  • Contact the agency offering the government contract and request to be added to its bidding list or registered vendors.
  • You may be required to log on to a site and create your business profile.
  • Sometimes, especially at the local level, you just need to make a phone call or send a letter to add your business to the proposal list.

Business Qualifications

Government agencies often offer extra mileage to businesses with a special status, like veteran, minority, and women-owned businesses. In order to apply under one of these categories, you must have the required certification.

Bid Meeting

Once you are added to the government's bidders' list, the agency will send you an announcement whenever there is a contract opportunity. Sometimes you may be required to attend an initial meeting to discuss the proposal process.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

The contracting agency usually sends out a request for proposal outlining the bidding process and requirements, like insurance, pricing, qualifications, and the deadline for submitting a proposal.

Bid Review

Usually, a review panel goes through the submitted proposals and shortlists a few businesses for an oral interview.

Contract Award

The government agency awards a contract based on the scoring and interview of the shortlisted contenders.

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