SEP 23, 2022 12:02:19 PM
For those businesses interested in government contracting, knowing what you have to offer and what the government is looking for is key. But where in federal government contracting do you start? How do you identify opportunities that align with your company’s core capabilities? There are a number of databases, both free and paid, that outline what the government is currently looking for or might be in the future. Here are a few examples:
Sam.gov – This is your first and most important resource. This free website is where federal agencies typically post their requirements. These post come straight from the source without any manipulation. This is also where you need to register if you want to do business with the federal government. If they can’t find you in this database, they won’t be able to hire you.
FPDS-NG – Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation is a government system where contract information is input when awards are made. At one time, there was a publicly available site within FPDS-NG. In case you’re wondering why it’s no longer visible, that has been moved to Sam.gov. Use this for gaining insight into how, when, why, and to who government contracts are awarded.
USASPENDING.GOV – This is another tremendous FREE resource for gaining knowledge and crunching numbers. There is a large amount of data and the information to be gained from perusing this site can be overwhelming. If you are not sure where to start your analysis, we have some thoughts on that and you should give us a call.
GovTribe – This is one of FP&C’s favorite resources. This paid database has multiple functions. GovTribe searches through Sam.gov as well as pulls potential upcoming contracts of interest for you. It’s search capabilities are also more user friendly than Sam.gov. The other unique feature that GovTribe utilizes is the ability to create “pipelines”. You can create a variety of pipelines for the different kinds of business you do or for the variety of government agencies you serve. We like to use it to keep track of which opportunities are best for each of our clients, so that every time we meet with you, we can show you new opportunities AND show you where we’re at on previously approved opportunities.
GovWin – This is another paid database. It doesn’t have the pipeline feature that GovTribe has, but it does have a more sophisticated search system. Rather than just use Sam.gov, GovWin has agents that track new opportunities with agencies AND opportunities that are reaching their end with the current contract holder. It sometimes seems to have “future” sense! As you’ll know if you’ve done government contracting for any length of time, the government does not move quickly and the sooner you’re in the door, the easier it is to win a contract. This is where GovWin shines, as it can give you a head start on an opportunity you’d excel at.
Procurement Forecasts – Each agency has a procurement forecast of some kind that you can look up, usually on their respective website. These list out everything they’re looking to potentially procure within each fiscal year. These opportunities don’t always get posted to Sam.gov and you will likely want to contact the contracting officer assigned to the opportunities you’re interested in. If you are polite and ask good questions, you can utilize this option to build a relationship with the contracting officer. They may not have that particular opportunity available anymore, but they might be able to point you in other directions.
There are also a variety of factors to keep in mind while you’re searching. You likely can’t go after every single opportunity that sounds interesting, so narrow it down in these ways:
Timeframe – If the opportunity is due within the next month, someone else has most likely already spoken with the contracting officer and has a leg up on you. You also want plenty of time to work with potential teammates and organize a solid proposal. We prefer to search farther out than within the next month or two to give our clients the highest chance of success!
Amount – A small business may not be able to handle really large sums. If the contracting officer doesn’t believe that you have the infrastructure ready for the estimated award amount they’ll be giving you for the work, they won’t choose your proposal. Choose your opportunities and teammates carefully. You can always try and lowball the proposal amount, but you don’t want to go so far as to not be able to provide your best work either. Individual RFPs will specify the pricing they’re looking for, such as Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) or Best Value Tradeoff. Make sure to give an amount that works for both you and the government to receive the biggest bang for your buck!
Set-Aside – This is a big one. If you don’t have a set-aside designation, you’ll be limited to Full and Open competition, which is incredibly difficult to win. Oftentimes, you’re going up against huge corporations. Getting a set-aside that makes sense for your business is a great way to narrow down competitors and have a good chance at success. See our other blog post on Set-Asides!
Place of Performance – Not all contracts require you to be near to the place of performance, but it can help in your proposal if this is a key part of what the contracting officer needs. Someone familiar with a particular area or agency also has a higher chance for success and can pay less for transport than someone from out of the area. A good place to start when starting out with government contracting is to look for opportunities located in your state. If you live in or near Washington DC, keep in mind that the competition will be fierce for contracts in that area.
Agency – You can spend hours upon hours looking through opportunities. Make sure you’re looking at agencies that will have the kinds of contracts that you can perform. If I’m not in healthcare, it doesn’t make sense to try and work with Veterans Affairs or the Defense Health Agency. Your time is valuable and spending it looking through opportunities that aren’t is useless.
As always, FP&C can spend the time looking for opportunities for you so YOU can focus on what matters most: your business!
Contact us for a free consultation to get the ball rolling!
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