Getting Started with Federal Government Contracting
Government Contracting should be considered the gravy for a business and not the meat and potatoes. This is not an immediate process, it can take months of marketing to land an initial contract and longer to land a major contract.
You have to remember that unless you have invented something brand new, the government is already purchasing the product or service from some other company now. You are trying to convince the government instead of purchasing your product or service from their current supplier, but trying to convince them to purchase it from you!
Finally - the Federal Government is moving to everything paperless for submissions. If you do not have access to a computer, the web, e-mail, and the ability to scan things into PDF; then, you do not need to do government contracting.
Federal Government Contracting
If you desire to do Federal Government Contracting, then you have to register in the System for Awards Management (SAM), which has replaced the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). The following are the steps that you have to take:
Step 1 - Things You Need to Have Before You Start
Must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number provided by Dun and Bradstreet (D&B).
If you have one, make sure the address matches your current physical address and your legal business name as registered with the State. It does get compared during the SAM verification.
Use the online process versus calling, since you will be able to enter the information yourself and make sure it is entered correctly.
Contact number if having problems with D&B online - 1-866-705-5711. Make sure you state your are only doing it for the SAM Registration and you do not want D&B commercial services.
Must have a Tax Identification Number (TIN) and Taxpayer Name and Address used in filing with the IRS. Note: This information needs to match with your DUNS Number and what you are going to enter in SAM.
The information is verified between IRS - D&B - SAM.
The Company Name and TIN must match in all three locations.
Product Service Codes (PSC) is a system of letters and numbers that provides the codes used for Services in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). Federal Supply Classification (FSC) is the numeric system that provides a classification structure of Supplies and Equipment Codes. See below for a table of codes.
Average number of employees, based on the past 12 months.
Gross income averaged over the last three completed fiscal years.
Product and Service Codes This list the codes used in Products and Services for the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) as of 9 August 2015.
Step 2 - System for Award Management (SAM)
If you are going to do federal government contracting, you have to register with SAM.
The System for Award Management (SAM) is a free web site that consolidates the capabilities you used to find in CCR/FedReg, ORCA, and EPLS. Future phases of SAM will add the capabilities of other systems used in Federal procurement and awards processes.
The registration is a two part process - you have to first create an User Account and once that has been verified, then you will register your "Entity" through new or migration from CCR.
Click on "Create an User Account" and follow the web page prompts. Once complete, then you will click on "Register Entity"
Prior to beginning, visit the SAM Help page.
You will have to create an User Account. Once you have it set up, the password only remains valid for 180 days, so make sure you fill out and remember your six security questions.
To keep your SAM Registration Active you will need to renew it once a year. Once you have gone into the update/renew link, it will renew your registration for one year from the last date it was successfully saved.
Company Name and Address, must be the same, including any special characters, abbreviations, or periods.
You will access your Small Business Profile from SAM registration.
It is now required that SAM Registrations must be validated by the IRS.
Again, it is necessary to make sure that all business names and EIN/SSN must match in DUNS, IRS, and SAM.
About System for Award Management - YouTube
The System for Award Management (SAM) is a free web-site which consolidates Federal procurement systems and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. Currently CCR, FedReg, ORCA and EPLS have been migrated into SAM. Over the coming years, additional system migrations will be completed.
The following link provides an YouTube video on how to register in SAM - GSASAMVideos.
SAM - Quick Start Guide For Small Business Searches
This sheet provides information on how to search for businesses in SAM. This is good for assisting in searching similar companies to yours to ensure you have NAICS, PSD, or FSC codes that might apply. Allows to search for companies that are your competitors.
SAM Account Password Once you have gotten your SAM Registration complete, you will need to update it yearly; based, on when you last updated your SAM Registration. Your password will expire every 180 days; but, you can change it when it comes time to do your yearly update.
REMEMBER: Do not wait until the day your registration is about to expire. If you have had changes (e-mail, address, etc.) it can take longer to go through the process, so look at doing it about a month prior to your registration will expire.
How to change the password for an individual account: 1. From the SAM homepage, in the upper right corner, either log in with your username and old password or click "Forgot Password?" 2. Enter your username and the email address associated with your account. Use the email on file, even if that email account is no longer valid. 3. Complete the CAPTCHA image and click “Next.” 4. Click 'Send Email.' The system (email@example.com)will send an email to you with a reset password link. If your email address is different than the one on file, follow the prompts to update it and send the reset to the new email address. 5. Click the password reset link in the email. 6. Create your new password. Your new password should be different than your previous ten passwords you have used in SAM, and should conform to the password requirements.
SAM passwords must be at least 8 characters long.
They cannot be more than 15 characters long.
They must contain one special character, one number, and at least one letter. (Note: Your password cannot contain the "&" character.)
7. Click “Save” to continue. You may now use your new password to access your account.
Step 2a - Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA)
The Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) is an e-Government initiative that was designed by the Integrated Acquisition Environment (IAE) to replace the paper based Representations and Certifications (Reps and Certs) process. If you are going to compete for a Federal contract, you will have to complete this as part of SAM.
This eliminates about 25 pages of contract information, since it is asked for every agreement and contract. In filling out the documents, it is part of the SAM Registration and will have some things already filled out. Your responses will either be yes, no, or not at this time.
Contact us when you have questions.
Step 3 - Small Business Administration (SBA) Registrations
In Federal Government Contracting several business classifications are self certifying: Woman Owned, Small Business, Veteran Owned, Service Disabled Veteran, Small Disadvantaged Business, etc.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is responsible for providing several certifications. These are:
8(a) Business Development (BD) Program:
The SBA's 8(a) BD Program, named for a section of the Small Business Act, is a business development program created to help small disadvantaged businesses compete in the American economy and access the federal procurement market.
This provides a sample application for the HUBZone Program to allow you to review what will be requested while filling this out online.
Note: After submitting the online application, you will receive an automated email instructing you to log into the General Login System (GLS). These instructions outlines a time sensitive requirement. Specifically, the firm has 10 business days to electronically verify the data it entered in its online HUBZone application. After this verification is completed, the firm has an additional 10 business days to submit the supporting documentation. The online application plus the uploading of all the supporting documentation in the list, constitute a completed application package. If either of these steps are not completed within the timeframe provided, the application is withdrawn.
HUBZone Program Office Supporting Documentation Request
The documents listed below are used to determine your eligibility along with the information provided via the online application. This document can also be used as a checklist to assist you in gathering supporting documents to submit to the SBA HUBZone Program Office. Please note that depending on your particular circumstances, you may be asked to submit additional documents that are not listed here.
REMEMBER: Please do not submit any documents before requested by the SBA HUBZone Program Office. Any documentation submitted prior to request will be destroyed. Only send copies NOT originals. All document copies must be legible. All supporting documents must be at the time of Electronic Verification of the HUBZone application.
Step 3a - Small Business Administration (SBA) Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS)
The Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) is a database that is managed by the Small Business Administration. This is generally a self-certifying database and the SBA does not make any representation as to the accuracy of any of the data included, other than certifications relating to 8(a) Business Development, HUBZone or Small Disadvantaged Business status.
The way your company gets entered into this SBA Database is that at the end of your SAM Entity Management Registration, if SBA's size standard indicator displays that your industry falls within the small business classification, a link to SBA's Supplemental page will be shown on the screen. If you click the link, you will be able to enter your small business profile information on that page. This data will automatically populate the SBA database where your business information can be readily accessed through the Dynamic Small Business Search Function.
Based on our discussions with Federal Contracting Officers, this is where they go to review possible vendors before making final decisions. The reason is that this offers more information and easier to search for data.
This attachment provides some helpful hints on how to access the SBA Small Business Profile that appears under the Dynamic Small Business Search. You gain access through your SAM Registration.
Federal Contracting Helpful Hints - Hopefully
SBA Goaling Program The Federal Government has specified goals for government contracting to included prime and subcontracting goals. This to ensure that the Federal Government will achieve not less than 23 percent to small businesses, not less than 5 percent to woman-owned small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses (SDB and 8(a)), and not less than 3 percent to service disabled veteran-owned small businesses and certified HUBZone small businesses.
NOTE: Unlike the State of Texas goals, this should be considered as a quota and not just a goal. Government employees can get fired if they do not meet them.
Companies need to market these socioeconomic qualifications; but, only after stating "We provide a good quality product or service at a competitive price."
GSA Credit Cards:The More than 250,000 Federal employees are using the GSA Smartpay cards. As a vendor you can maximize your ability to capture government sales by accepting credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and Voyager). If you already accept these cards, you have no additional work to do. If you do not accept these cards contact a bank to establish a merchant account. More information can be found at:
The three most important words to remember in order to be successful in the Federal Procurement Arena is market, market, market.After you have identified your customers, researched their requirements, and familiarized yourself with the Government's procurement regulations and strategies, it is time to market your product or service. Present your capabilities directly to those buying offices that purchase your products or services. Realize that, like you, their time is valuable and if the match is a good one and you can provide them with a cost-effective, quality solution to their requirements the contract could be yours. Good luck and remember - you're not alone.