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A Guide to Becoming a Federal Government Contractor

 In GovCon Tips

The United States government is urging small businesses to take on contracting opportunities to fulfill the needs of each government agency. But what does it take to become a federal government contractor and what are the things to prepare? Well, here is a guide to become a federal government contractor.

1. Research about the market. 

You need to know who your market is, what their demands are, and what can you provide. 

Consider it this way, regardless if you have a high-quality product, when there’s still no demand for that product, you will never make a profit out of it.

This is also the same way with pricing, if you offer too high or too low, there’s a huge chance that agencies will choose other contractors apart from yours.

In doing so, you can research about past contracts and learn about pricing your products and services through the Federal Procurement Data System, USA Spending, and the SAM database.

2. Understand the contracting rules.

Because the government is using the taxpayer’s money to fulfill the demand of the government agencies, they have certain rules and regulations all throughout the contracting process that you must follow. 

Although most of these regulations only take place when you start your contract, you still need to research about these matters to prevent you from facing potential legal problems that will most likely terminate your contract in the future. 

3. Create a business plan.

You need to create a business plan as this helps you structure and run your business.

This doesn’t mean that you need to create a complex business plan but to just highlight and include an effective marketing plan, business details, and resources calculations.

This way, you can easily describe and present your business towards the government and investors.

4. Determine your business category.

The federal government provides an opportunity for small businesses to be certified as women-owned small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and HUBZone program participants. 

Each certification has their own purpose and process in helping small businesses but regardless of what category you are in, the Small Business Administration will help you get acquainted with the procurement process and win contracts. 

Apart from that, the organization will also provide assistance in terms of finances, management, training, and other opportunities for small businesses to compete with huge government contractors. 

5. Provide a matched NAICS code.

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code is a six-digit code classifying the types of products that you sell.

If you also provide a wide variety of multiple products and services, then you can certainly have a multiple NAICS code. 

You can view the NAICS code list from the U.S. Census Bureau or by contacting the bureau through 1-888-756-2427 or on their email address,

6. Register for a DUNS number. 

A Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number is a nine-digit identification number assigned to your business in order to identify your business and to track your company’s credit record.

If your business is in various locations, then you need to get a different DUNS number for each business location.

To obtain a DUNS number, you can either request via this toll-free telephone number, 1-(866) 705-5711, or through the D&B website

7. Register in SAM. 

With lots of businesses across the United States, the government uses this platform to store information about any businesses as well as look for a specific business before awarding any contract. 

So, in order for your business to start working with the federal government, you must register in the System for Award Management (SAM) database first. 

Also, if there are certain changes in your business, you must keep your SAM profile updated. 

8. Find contract opportunities. 

There are a handful of certified online government platforms that you can use to search for contract opportunities. These include the SAM database and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)

You can also look for subcontracting opportunities through SubNet, the SBA Subcontracting Assistance Directory, USA Spending, and on the Department of Defense Prime Contractor Directory

Lastly, you can also communicate with any small business offices in your area such as the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization or the Office of Small Business Programs.

9. Bid or submit an offer. 

Government agencies either award a contract through sealed bidding or negotiation.

The difference between these two is that with sealed bidding, the offers are spoken in public and the one with the lowest responsive bid is awarded with the contract; however, with negotiation, contractors and the agency will have a chance to negotiate about the proposal. 

Regardless of what type of contract award you want to bid or submit an offer, just make sure that you have read all of the clauses and you have filled the necessary information. 

10. Comply with the contracting rules. 

The contracting officer and the government are very particular with their purchases and any factors not being followed will most likely cause termination. 

These rules include the size standards, the sourcing of the materials, legal requirements, subcontracting limits, and documentation.

The government also imposed various unique business practices and ethical responsibilities that you should follow under the Federal Acquisition Regulation

However, if you think that you have met all of the rules and standards above but your contract was still terminated, you have the right to appeal by following the Contract Dispute Act.


If you want to learn more about the specific processes written in this article regarding how to become a federal government contractor, then be sure to click the links below.

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