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Businesses, regardless of their size, are constantly in search of increased revenue, a broader clients base, and more opportunities for growth. It’s important to recognize that the federal government stands as the largest customer worldwide. Therefore, federal government contracting offers businesses a gateway to this profitable and stable market. However, challenges may come up when starting the process of obtaining government contracts and when trying to understand the complexities of government contracting.

As a business owner, you might be considering  GSA contracts. These are agreements facilitated by the General Services Administration (GSA). As Federal Advisors we assist businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions in obtaining GSA Schedule Contracts, enabling businesses to sell products and services to government customers. These GSA contracts streamline the purchasing process for government agencies by offering them access to a wide range of products and services at competitive prices. GSA contracts are typically awarded through a competitive bidding process and are subject to strict terms and conditions set by the GSA.

But working with the federal government and getting a GSA Schedule Contract is different from serving regular customers due to its strict procedures and specific regulations. While the federal government contracting is accessible to any qualified business, we are aware of the fact that navigating the complexities of the contracting process can be difficult. That’s where FGA, as experts Federal Advisors, step in to assist your business in securing federal contracts that can significantly impact your growth and success.

So, what is government contracting exactly? How does federal government contracting work? And how can you get started in this process? This guide will take you through each step of federal government contracting, providing step-by-step explanations along the way.

What is a Federal Government Contract?

A federal government contract is a formal agreement between the government and private businesses. These contracts allow businesses to provide goods or services that the government needs. These contracts are not just targeted for big companies – even small or emerging businesses can get in on the action, supplying the goods and services they offer  such as office supplies or cleaning services to government offices, for example.

As the world’s largest buyer, the federal government spends billions of dollars on a wide range of needs. This includes everything from janitorial and food services to technology, marketing, aviation, and even mapping and surveying services.

U.S federal law requires that a portion of government contracts must be allocated to small and minority-owned businesses. Therefore, if your business falls into categories such as small, disadvantaged, woman-owned, disabled veteran-owned, or HubZone-certified, you  have a big chance of securing a government contract and fostering growth for your enterprise.

There’s plenty of opportunity out there for anyone interested in the federal government contracting field.

How Does Federal Government Contracting Work?

Federal contracts operate under strict and specific regulations, ruled by a comprehensive set of terms and conditions to ensure fairness, safety, and compliance with laws governing businesses that provide goods and services to the federal government. These detailed regulations can be found on the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) website.

Typically, federal contracts span 1-3 years and can be renewed indefinitely if the business fulfills contract requirements. This presents an advantage because it offers a stable, long-term revenue stream.

The bidding process is rigorous and regulated, with detailed guidance provided by the Federal Procurement Data System. As your federal advisors, we’re here to guide you through this journey to success. 

SAM (System for Award Management) registration is an essential part of the federal government contracting process. It’s important because it’s the primary database where businesses must register in order to do business with the federal government. SAM registration is necessary for businesses to be eligible to bid on and receive federal contracts.  

Where Can My Business Find Federal Contract Opportunities: SAM, Federal Register, and SBA

  • System for Award Management (SAM) website: It’s an online platform where businesses register to bid for federal contracts. It centralizes information about government contracts and contractor registrations. Essential for businesses to participate in federal contracting.
  • The Federal Register: It’s a daily journal of government activities, including proposed rules, notices, and contracts. It publishes official government documents and contract opportunities, providing transparency and access to federal contracting opportunities.
  • The Small Business Association (SBA): Supports small businesses through various programs and resources, offering guidance, loans, and contracting opportunities to small businesses. It Helps small businesses navigate federal contracting and grow their operations.

Types of Federal Government Contracts

Federal government contracts vary widely and are categorized based on different factors. These contracts can range from simple to complex, depending on the scope of work involved. 

Federal contracts fall into two main types:

  • Fixed-Price Contracts: Payment is set and doesn’t change. The contractor covers all costs.
  • Cost-Reimbursement Contracts: Payment is based on expenses. Profit or loss depends on contract terms.

There are also specialized contracts, like:

  • Incentive Contracts: Offer extra pay for quality or timely work.
  • Partial Services Contracts: Provide specific parts of larger projects.

Understanding these types of contracts is key for getting successful government contracting that matches your business capabilities. 

How Do I Become a Government Contractor? 

Becoming a government contractor requires several steps, and breaking them down can make the process more manageable. These are the main steps we will help you take in order to start bidding on government contracts:

  • Register your business name: Business name must be legally registered. This safeguards your brand and ensures legal and tax benefits. The federal government offers guidance and resources for this step.
  • Apply for a federal tax ID number: Similar to a social security number, this ID is used for business taxes. Applying is straightforward through the IRS website.
  • Request a DUNS number: This unique identifier is necessary for federal contracting. Obtain it from the Dun & Bradstreet website, providing your company’s details.
  • Know your NAICS code: Determine the North American Industry Classification System code(s) applicable to your business. This helps classify your services/products.
  • Confirm your business size: Check if your business fits within the Small Business Administration’s definitions using the Size Standard Tool.
  • Finally, the essential step is to register with the System for Award Management (SAM): This is crucial for bidding on federal contracts. Register on the SAM website, ensuring you have necessary information: your DUNS number, Taxpayer Identification Number, and financial details.

Our dedicated team of federal advisors is committed to guiding you every step of the way, for your business to secure valuable federal contracts. We’re here to support your journey towards success with care and expertise.

What Steps Should I Take to Bid on Federal Government Contracts?

Our team of federal advisors will guide you through every step of the process. We will:

  • Start by exploring databases to find government contracts that are available, and then determine which proposals align with your business capabilities.
  • Carefully go through the Request for Proposals (RFPs) from federal agencies. These documents have important instructions for making your bid. Even though they can be long, sometimes over 100 pages, it’s crucial to be patient and thorough.
  • Next, we will  look at the supplies, services, and costs outlined in the RFP. This part lists what needs to be done and what you can charge for.
  • Read the descriptions and instructions in Section C of the RFP. Here, we’ll plan out what you’ll do and how. Remember, you’re competing with other companies, so we will need to consider what  makes your proposal stand out.
  • Create a well-thought-out proposal that covers all the RFP’s points, making sure it includes costs, the type of contract you want, and what you can realistically do. 

When your proposal is ready, we will be ready to submit your bid.

FAQs about Federal Government Contracting and How Does It Work

1. What is a Federal Government Contract?

A federal government contract is a legal agreement between the federal government and private businesses to provide goods or services for the benefit and use of the federal government. These contracts enable businesses to offer their products and expertise to various government agencies, including areas such as transport, research, and supply of materials.

2. How Does Federal Government Contracting Work?

Federal government contracting is a strictly regulated process governed by specific terms and conditions. These regulations are meant to ensure fairness and safety by adhering to laws governing businesses that provide goods and services to the federal government.

 Detailed information on federal government contract regulations can be found on the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) website.

3. Can Small Businesses Get  Federal Contracts?

Yes, small businesses can secure federal contracts. Federal law mandates that a specific portion of government contracts be allocated to small and minority-owned businesses. Approximately 23 percent of government contracts are awarded to small businesses, presenting significant opportunities for growth and expansion.

4. How Can Federal Government Advisors Help  in Finding Contracts?

Federal Government Advisors (FGA) specializes in contract consulting and assists businesses in navigating the complexities of bidding on federal contracts. With expertise in capturing, bidding, and winning government contracts, FGA provides guidance to put clients on the path to securing lucrative government contracts.

5. What Services do Federal Government Advisors Offer?

Federal Government Advisors aims to enhance existing business operations and facilitate access to government contracts. Advisors work as a solid guide along the process of acquiring federal, state, and local contracts, leveling the playing field for small and medium-sized businesses. FGA’s expertise ensures efficient navigation of the federal contract system, enabling clients to capitalize on opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible.