The United States government is among the largest customers in the world, making federal contracts a lucrative source of revenue for many businesses. However, doing business with the federal government can take some planning. If you have considered applying for a government contract, these tips can help you develop an implementation plan to get started.
Meet Necessary Compliance Standards
Any company doing business with the U.S. government must maintain compliance with specific standards. Failure to do so could violate your contract and leave you in a very serious situation. Therefore, managers must take precautions to maintain compliance with programs, including the following standards.
Standards of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
The OFCCP establishes and manages three main compliance programs related to fair labor practices. They are:
- Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended, 38 U.S.C. 4212
- Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 793
- Executive Order 11246, as amended
Combined, they aim to ensure equity in hiring practices among federal contractors. Companies doing business with the government must stay abreast of any changes to the benchmarks established by these programs.
Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification
This certification is an absolute must for any defense contractor. It ensures data security protocols are maintained and protects sensitive information that contractors may have access to. CMMC Compliance can be complicated, so it is a good idea to start the certification process early and consider bringing in outside help.
Learn How To Apply
It isn’t as simple as filling out an application and getting money. There are precise requirements for government contracts. The first step in determining if this avenue is worth pursuing is to look at the application steps and whether you have the resources to devote to them. The U.S. General Services Administration offers helpful guidance for learning more about this topic.
An excellent place to start is to determine your business classification. This is based on your industry, which is assigned a North American Industry Classification System code. Then, you will need to establish your size. For example, to be considered a small business, you must meet specific requirements for the number of employees or revenue limits.
Size matters when applying for federal contracts because the government sets aside a certain percentage of contracts and funding for small businesses. Only companies meeting specific requirements are eligible to apply for these opportunities. This helps distribute federal dollars more fairly among businesses of varying capacities.
Register With SAM
The System for Award Management is the central government tool for applying for and managing contract opportunities. Registration with SAM is free to do yourself; however, it is a complicated process that requires meticulous attention to detail. Additionally, it can take several days once the paperwork is completed, so you must begin the registration process well in advance of any application deadlines.
Research Current Opportunities
SAM is the clearinghouse for federal awards and contracts. You can use it to research past, current, and upcoming opportunities. Take time to familiarize yourself with the system and how to use it to find open contracts that match your business operations. You have a much greater chance of receiving a closely aligned contract than one that is a stretch.
While conducting this research, it is a good idea also to review past opportunities. Many of these will be recurring, so you can potentially schedule an application for the next contract cycle.
Increase Your Odds of Winning a Contract
Submitting applications does not mean you will be chosen for contracts. Constant negative responses can be disheartening; however, they are also an opportunity to evaluate where your applications are coming up short. If a direct contact is provided, ask for feedback on why your proposal was not chosen. For many new federal contractor hopefuls, the lack of previous contracts is at least partially to blame.
Part of the evaluation process is looking at your company’s past performance. However, you cannot show proficiency in award management without any history of government contracts. Many companies get around this by subcontracting with larger businesses with a history of government contracts. This is a practical solution that can help bolster your past performance rating.
Federal government contracts are an excellent, steady source of income for many businesses. If you are considering applying for a contract, be sure to register with SAM and comply with all applicable standards.