Government Contracting/ B2G/ public sector is a very different animal than private sector, business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B) processes and management. There are some similarities and general business practices that carry over, but realistically it can be a difficult area to shift your business into especially if your business is young or very small.
PTACs assist small businesses as designated by SBA standards with navigating these new waters or improving their skills. These articles are provided to answer some questions but are not in lieu of talking with a business counselor.
Where Do I start?
- Get a computer (or access to one) & get on the Internet! More and more government business is being conducted online. Even if you don’t have your own website, you must at least have an email address.
- Find your DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number. The D&B D-U-N-S Number is a unique nine-digit identification sequence, which provides unique identifiers of single business entities, while linking corporate family structures together. This process is free of charge and should only take a few minutes. You can get this number by calling Dun & Bradstreet at (866) 705-5711 and tell them you are doing government contracting. https://iupdate.dnb.com/iUpdate/viewiUpdateHome.htm You will need your Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/sicsearch.html or http://www.naics.com/sic-codes-industry-drilldown/
- Find out your NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes. These are codes that describe what your business does. www.census.gov/epcd/www/naics.html. Be sure to keep these codes handy, as you will need them when filling out Government registrations or searching for bids.
- Register with the System for Awards Management. Their website is located at www.sam.gov. The website contains a very useful handbook which you can print out and use to complete the application. Companies who want to do business with the Federal Government are required to be registered in SAM. After 24 hours you will be issued a CAGE code. The Federal Government use this CAGE code when it pays you for goods and services. Be sure to save your User ID, Passwords, MPIN and Security Question answers in a safe place. Users will need Internet Explorer version of IE9 or higher, or another supported browser type (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc).
- After signing up for SAM, be sure to fill out the additional information provided by the SBA to register in the Dynamic Small Business Search at the SAM website. This provides a database for you to market your company and for government contractors and prime contractors to use when they are looking for vendors. It is on the submit page: “SBA Profile.”
- (OPTIONAL) Visit the General Services Administration website at www.gsa.gov. Check out the GSA schedule and see the variety of goods and services listed. You may want to consider applying for a GSA contract (called a “schedule”) which allows government buyers to purchase from you at a prearranged price. You can find out how to apply for a GSA schedule at their website. click here to print ” Doing Business With GSA” national brochure
Most Federal agencies have positions especially designed to assist small businesses. Find out if the agencies you want to do business with have a Small Business office you can contact for assistance. www.osdbu.gov/members.html
- Print out online applications and fill them out on paper before doing them online.
- Always keep copies of applications you have done online, mailed and faxed in. And be sure you write down the dates you submitted the applications on the copies.
- Always write down and keep any passwords, registration numbers, MPINS or TPINS. These can be very hard to replace if you lose them!
- Don’t hesitate to call the help lines on websites if you have questions. Once again, keep track of who and when you called.
- If you call a help line and aren’t satisfied with the person you are talking to, document the call, hang up, call back and talk to someone else.
- Keep documentation of everything! You may need it in the future.
By the Numbers and Letters
Government contracting, more than general business practice, requires that you be aware of and keep track many codes and identification numbers and then there is the Alphabet soup to make things more interesting.
The first step of registering with government contracting is to set up a DUNS Number to identify your business. You must request a number for government contracting, which is free. The best way is to call 866-705-5711, but you should also set up your iUpdate profile in order to maintain your DUNS record. https://iupdate.dnb.com/iUpdate/viewiUpdateHome.htm Next is to request an Entity’s Taxpayer Identification Number, EIN.
Knowing where you fit before registering is SAM is important and will save you time in the registration process. North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) found at the Census website, is the standard for classifying businesses. It replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system, but the SIC numbers are still found. You should track and record the NAICS and SIC codes. These codes are also important to know how the SBA sees your company’s size. Using your NAICS code, verify if your company is considered small, other than small or on the cusp in the SBA Size Standards. For companies on the threshold, we recommend quarterly reporting in order to best manage fluctuations in your size.
Another identifier for your products and services is your Federal Stock/ Supply Class (FSC) and Product Service Code (PSC). Search this manual to find out yours. Other codes and identifiers maybe needed depending on your products or services: NSN numbers, NIGP, etc…
Registering in SAM
The System for Award Management (SAM) is a new database (active 2012) that has been developed to consolidate federal procurement sites. The current stage is affecting CCR/ FedReg, ORCA, and ELPS. You will need the above information to register for SAM as well as, points of contact for your business, banking information, past performance, capabilities, certifications and more. The SAM User Guide (large doc) provides detailed instructions. The GSA’s Updating Your Former CCR Registration in SAM video is helpful for learning to migrate your CCR registration into your new SAM profile. There are also quick references guides available in the Help section at SAM.gov. Registering with SAM will create a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code.More information about the CAGE code and their use can be found here: Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE).
Users will either need Internet Explorer version of IE9 or higher, or another supported browser type (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc).
On Regulations.gov, a U.S. Government website, you can find, view, and comment on regulations and other actions for all Federal agencies. Federal Procurement is governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Sites such as FARsite and Jumpstation list the FAR and the individual agencies regulations i.e. DFAR, HSAR, and many others. It is important to be aware of regulations that will affect your business and industry when doing business with the federal government.
Certifications and Programs
The programs listed here are federal with the exception of the unique characteristic of the DBE program. For State, Local and Native Government procurement related programs and certifications, contact your Native PTAC counselor.
Buy Indian Act affects only two agencies: Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Services. It allows for a sole source to native owned companies with out having to go through the process of 8(a) applications. It increases the speed at which a contract can be awarded and helps Native owned firms in the market place.
Women-Owned Small Business WOSB and EDWOSB associated with certain NAICS codes are eligible for set-aside and soon, sole source contracts
Self-certified SDVOSBs The purpose of the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program is to provide procuring agencies with the authority to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns, as well as the authority to make sole source awards to service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns if certain conditions are met.
VA Center for Verification and Evaluation Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business SDVOSB and VOSB Certification, required for Department of Veteran Affairs set-aside and sole source contracts.
DoD Mentor Protégé Program assists small disadvantaged businesses by partnering them with large companies under and individual, project-based agreement. Native PTAC can assist by explaining the program and facilitate introductions.
“The purpose of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs is to harness the innovative talents and entrepreneurial energies of our nation’s small technology companies for U.S. military and economic strength. Together, the programs represent over $1 billion per year in research and development funding used to support qualifying small businesses through a competitive, three-phase process. Projects funded through SBIR and STTR serve a DoD need and have the potential to commercialize in the broader marketplace. Solicitations are conducted periodically throughout the year.” – DoD OSBP
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program is a federal program developed to increase minority business enterprise participation in state and local procurement. The program contracts with State agencies to process applications for certification. Some states offer additional state level certifications.
- Alaska Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program
- Idaho Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, ITD Business News
- Montana Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program
- Oregon Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program
- The Office of Minority, Women, and Emerging Small Business Programs (OMWESB)– Oregon
- Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) – Washington
SBA Small Business Compliance Guide Size and Affiliation March 2014 A Guide to the SBA’s Size Program and Affiliation Rules. A handbook for small businesses and Federal officials interested in learning about the SBA’s size program.
Marketing Assistance for Government Contracting
Researching the government marketplace for potential clients and buying practices is a great place to start. Two Rivers CDC Native PTAC helps determine where the key markets are for your products and services.
Make the contracting officer’s life easier by providing needed information on all your marketing. List your DUNS, and CAGE code so contracting officers are able to easily find you in SAM or DSBS. It is helpful to share your SIC/ NAICS codes, product codes, certifications and performance history. Develop a capabilities statement and make is easily available on your website. Native PTAC is available to review any marketing material you have and offer suggestions on improvement or prepping for government contracting.
Native PTAC also works to bridge opportunities between buyers and suppliers. The calendar lists many networking and learning events. We are able to share contact information with client approval with agencies and primes for the sole purpose of potential contracting opportunities or to gain exposure with that business or agency.
Interpretation of Government Solicitations
Native PTAC helps you decipher solicitations by reviewing contract clauses, terms, definitions and requirements to ensure your interactions with bid target agencies are correct, complete and powerful.
Solicitations are long and complex documents. Procurement specialists at Native PTAC are here to help clients decipher and understand the requirements to respond to solicitations. The first step is to read the solicitation and mark how it fits your organization or where you will need to explain. Read the solicitation a second time making notes on the areas that need clarification to help make the best use of your advising time. Some questions should be asked directly of the Contracting Officer. Your Procurement Specialist will review your fit and questions to assist with responding to the solicitation.
Records are important.
- Track the solicitations that are fits: potential, good and excellent
- Keep a list of agencies and contracting officers of the above solicitations
- Keep a list of prime contracts and contract awardees for potential subcontracting
- Sign up for newsletters and email lists for procurement offices at agencies and prime contractors.
- Track the contracts, subcontracts and credit card purchases received from all levels of government for reporting to your PTAC advisor.
Contact your Native PTAC counselor for more information on your specific state.
The SBA lists state agencies and entities for purchasing and certifications. Check with your local cities, ports, school districts, counties and other local agencies for information on their purchasing practices, small works rosters, vendor lists, etc.
National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) also provides lists of state procurement offices and officers.Many other State procurement resources as well.
State procurement and registration sites
- State of Alaska Department of Administration Division of General Services
- State of Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities Procurement and Contracting
- State of Idaho Department of Administration Purchasing, or IPRO
- Visit www.itd.idaho.gov/business/business.htm (Bid & Contract Information— ITD Goods & Services) for bid notices for: Building Construction; Maintenance and Repair; Facility and Yard Improvements; Highway Maintenance and Repair; Site Clearing and Demolition.
- Consultants: www.itd.idaho.gov/design/cau/cau.htm. Learn here how ITD uses professional services for highway project development and improvements.
- Contractors: www.itd.idaho.gov/design/contractors/contrinfo.htm. On the blue-shaded menu on the left side of the screen is “Browse Projects & View Plan holders”.
- State of Washington– Doing Business with the State Access Washington
- State of Washington’s Electronic Business Solution (WEBS)
- State Of Washington’s Master Contract List – Including Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA) contracts:
- WSDOT: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Business/opportunities/IdentifyWork.htm
OMWBE Document List
- Federal Tax ID
- Washington UBI#
- Professional License Number
- Contractor License#
- Description of primary activities
- Bonding information
- Loan Documentation
- Duties of Owners & Key persons
- Non Participation Statement
DOCUMENT CHECKLIST (not all may apply)
- Non-Participation Statement (if applicable).
- Affidavit for eligible owner (Notarized, Signed and dated).
- Declaration for owner (Notarized, Signed and dated).
- State Driver’s License AND birth certificate or US Passport/Passport Card or USA Certificate of Naturalization with photo or US Permanent Resident Card or WA State Enhanced Driver’s License.
- Prenuptial Agreement or Separation of Property Agreement or Transfer of Property Agreement.
- Bank/Credit Card Statements or receipts showing business start-up costs that can be traced to a personal account for each eligible owner(s).
- Loan documents by a lending institution dated at the time of start-up and guaranteed by the eligible person.
- If the business is more than 7 years old, Bank/Credit Card Statements or receipts showing ongoing capital investment with documented proof (bank statements/processed checks) to show the source of those funds.
- Current resume for Owner (and Spouse, if married) that shows Types, dates and places of education and training received, Dates, places, titles and duties of former and current employment. Include past and present ownership in any businesses.
- Current resume for Key Personnel and Board Members that shows Types, dates and places of education and training received, Dates, places, titles and duties of former and current employment. Include past and present ownership in any businesses.
- Signed Bank signature card(s) which indicates who has signing authority, bank account number, date account was opened, amount of initial deposit, and any restrictions on the account.
- Copies of signed credit/loan or finance agreements.
- Copies of insurance policy agreements (commercial liability, errors and omissions, etc.)
- Copy of Bonding documents.
- Copies of signed property lease agreements or proof of ownership for office and/or yard space.
- List of owned equipment and/or vehicles and documented proof of purchase and/or titles.
- List of equipment leased and signed lease agreements.
- Copies of contracts/bids/invoices to demonstrate scope of work performed (from the last 12 months but no more than 6 total).
- Current Joint Venture agreements and amendments.
- Mentor Protégé agreements.
- Corporate bylaws and any amendments.
- Meeting Minutes.
- Stock certificates and ledger if stocks have been issued.
- Safety Manual (Trucking and Construction Firms)
- Federal Tax Returns and/or current IRS extension – (Last 3 years including all pages, statements, and schedules).
- If business started less than one year ago, please provide a Balance Sheet & Income Statement (Profit & Loss) as well as your SS-4 form.
- Secretary of State Certificate of Incorporation OR Secretary of State Certificate of Incorporation of foreign body authority (if firm is located outside of WA State.)
- Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission (WUTC) permits.
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for all drivers.
- Insurance Agreements for each truck owned or operated by firm.
- Title(s) and registration certificate(s) for each truck owned or operated by firm.
Regulations and General Resources
- Directory of Federal Procurement Offices and Useful Government Contracting Websites tool are outstanding resources for small businesses
- Selling to the Military Handbook
- Acquisition Forecast
- USAGov Whatever you want or need from the U.S. government, it’s here on FirstGov.gov. You’ll find a rich treasure of online information, services and resources.
- White House
- Office of Small Disadvantages Business Utilization (OSDBU)
- NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement
Specs, Standards, Drawings
DoD Specifications, Standards & Publications
- Government Web Portal
- Air Force
- Army Single Face to Industry
- DLA DIBBS – Defense Supply Center
- DoD EMALL
- FBOTraining videos
- GSA Federal Supply Service
- SBA Subcontracting Directory
- TACOM ARMY – Tacoma
- US Army Corps of Engineers
- FEDBID reverse auction
- Acquisition.gov E-Gov Initiative that aggregates federal acquisition content by providing one website for regulations, systems, resources, opportunities, and training
- Agency Recurring Procurement Forecasts
- THE SEARCH provides access to the FY2013 Procurement Forecast database
- Federal Interagency Databases Online
State Level Resources
Washington Technical Center (WTC) WTC is a statewide economic development agency focused on technology and innovation by:
- Providing funding support and access to capital
- Facilitating research collaboration
- Offering business services support
- Providing access to laboratory facilities
- Investing in emerging industries
Innovate Washington goals to make Washington the best place to develop innovative ideas and launch innovative companies through a sector based development process.
Center for Advanced Manufacturing Puget Sound CAMPS a non-for-profit resource center bringing together manufacturers, supply chain partners, pre-qualified business development specialists, and strategic partners.
The American Manufacturer Network mission is to enhance and assure the domestic supply base for the Department of Defense by working with an existing, local network of manufacturers and exercising processes that reduce costs, cycle times and waste. As a result, AMN shall increase military preparedness and create manufacturing business opportunities resulting in job creation in the Pacific Northwest.
Expand your skills in Government Contracting
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Find your PTAC
The Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, APTAC, contains contact information and resources from PTACs around the country. This is a membership organization so it might not list all PTACs. For a comprehensive list, use the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) site, the six Native American PTACs are listed at the bottom.