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How To Become A Federal Government Contractor

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Because the government is using the taxpayers 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.

How To Get Government Contracts As A Consultant: 3 Steps

By MBO Partners | June 30, 2021

Have you ever wondered how to work with the government as an independent contractor? The federal government engages more contractors than any other organization in the world, which presents many opportunities for independents. Each year, billions of dollars in contracts are set aside for small businesses, women, minorities, and veterans.

Many independent consultants look to government contracting as another option for growing their business. Follow these three steps to understand the processes, requirements, and resources needed to get government contracts as a consultant.

The Variety Of Contracting Opportunities

The upside is there is far more flexibility and ability to change roles, organizations, locations, and type of work as a government contractor versus working as a government employee. I have been fortunate in the past 15 years to have supported organizations and done work as varied as the Office of the Inspector General and Army Public Affairs. Learning about different organizations and missions gives a person the chance to grown professionally at a very fast rate and acquire skills from each organization. There are always new faces and personalities but it is never boring or mundane when you have the chance and flexibility to move around with ease. Also consider how government contractors can try before they buy to see if a government organization or contracting company is the right one for them. There are many upsides to a government contracting career if you are willing to know the rules and accept the differences from the private sector.

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How Can You Become A Federal Contractor

There can be various reasons why youd wish to become a federal contractor. Maybe youve just started a business, or perhaps you have an existing business and want to transition into something fresh with the government. Again, its possible that you already have a successful business in the private sector, and now you want to get into government contracting.If this is you, then youre at the right place. Lets take a look at what it takes to become a federal contractor.

Develop The Right Mindset

Regardless of your current position, and what others tell you, getting a government contract is always possible. The key is in approaching the task with the right mind frame.

Gauge Your Capacity

When you start out, youll probably have to bid smaller contracts for things you can handle and to get it rolling. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. While its possible to make millions within very few years, its not the norm.Its crucial to gauge your capacity to work and the experience you already have. You wont get a six-figure contract if you have zero experience. Hence, its imperative to manage ones expectations.

Take A Long, Hard Look At Your Business Foundation

Get Registered

Before you find a government contract to bid, theres one major step that you cant bypass. And thats getting registered in the government systems. To become a qualified bidder, you have to get registered. Here are the steps required for registering your company.

Get Certified

Set Up Formation Documents

First Steps To Government Contracting

Getting Started with Government Contracting


Though becoming a federal contractor is not easy, it is lucrative. While you may think that only time-tested companies win contracts, businesses new to federal contracting also can and do win contracts. We collect below information to read and become familiar with, if you intend to become a federal contractor and bid on contracts. If you have questions about anything you read, please call us at 877-252-2700.

Lesson 1: Market Research

Determine if there is a demand for your companys products and services in the federal market. Some socioeconomic factors, including if your business is minority-owned, women-owned, or veteran-owned, can help your business stand out. Perform additional research at and by using the Federal Procurement Data System.

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Lesson 1 Part 2: GWAC Programs

Government Wide Acquisition Contracts are Information Technology services procured from the General Services Administration . Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts enable federal agencies to buy cost-effective, innovative solutions for information technology requirements. GWACs provide access to IT solutions, such as systems design, software engineering, information assurance, and enterprise architecture solutions. Small business set-aside GWACs also provide socioeconomic credit.

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Special Invoicing And Payment Terms

Invoicing and payment terms may differ from standard business contracts. Its common for government contracts to be monthly, net-60, which means you may not receive payment for 90 days. Any mistakes can lead to a delay in payment for several months.

There may also be special invoicing requirements. Government contracting requires you to keep track of your funding and notify the government when youve reached 75% of your funding. Failure to do so may carry a penalty. Its therefore important to read contracts very carefully to ensure that you understand your responsibilities as a contractor.

What If You Lose

If you didnt win the contract, ask for a debriefing to find out how you were evaluated. If you want to challenge the award decision, you can file whats called a bid protest, but you have to act fast. Typically, bid protests must be filed within 10 days of the when the basis of protest is known .

When you are the protestor, you are really trying to throw as much mud at the wall and see what sticks, but your arguments can be dismissed if theyre late or not supported by facts, said Overman. You can come up with arguments of why you were evaluated improperly or why the awardee was given too good of an evaluation, like theres no way that price makes sense or that company has an organizational conflict of interest.

Although filing a bid protest is well within your rights as a citizen, Harary said to use it carefully. It should really be a last resort, because youll be making the procurement officer do extra work and you dont want to be someone that is just a complainer, he said.

Biggs also warned that even if your bid protest is successful, it doesnt necessarily mean youll be awarded the contract. It could just mean the agency did something incorrect when they were making the decision and they may have to go back and do a re-evaluation or fix whatever it was thats wrong, she said. In some cases, businesses will be allowed to re-bid on the contract.

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Prepare Your Administrative And Accounting Requirements For Being A Subcontractor

Before you start work as a subcontractor you will need to ensure that you are familiar with the Federal Acquisition Regulation , Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation and other acronyms that the government uses. Even though you are not the prime contractor you need to understand what is required of you.

  • You will need to become familiar with the rules and regulations associated with government contracting. For example, FAR Subpart 19.7 The Small Business Subcontracting Program and DFARS Subpart 219.7 . Also, you will need to get up to speed on FAR Part 44 Subcontracting Policies and Procedures.
  • Explore training opportunities with SBA, DoD or PTAC. SBA has online and in class training opportunities available. For online opportunities go here. For in class opportunities see your local SBA office.
  • Have you established internal financial controls and are they in compliance with Generally Acceptable Accounting Practices ? If you do not know please contact your accountant. If you dont have an accountant, then you will need to get one. It is advisable to have a good accountant, and attorney that you can reach out too. Dont think of these professionals as an expense but rather there are part of your team. The same goes for your bonding agent.
  • Will your company need a loan if awarded a contract? Look at financing options BEFORE you need one. It is better to have funding available before you need it.

Comply With The Contracting Rules

How To Become a Government Contractor

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.

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Registering As A Federal Contractor

  • 1Find your NAICS classification. The federal government uses the North American Industry Classification System to classify U.S. businesses for the purposes of gathering statistics on the U.S. economy. These codes also are used to classify contracts.XTrustworthy SourceU.S. Small Business AdministrationU.S. government agency focused on supporting small businessesGo to source
  • The most current edition of the NAICS manual is available at . Use it to find the code or codes for your business.
  • 2Gather information about your business. In addition to your NAICS classification codes, there are other codes and numbers related to your business that you’ll need to register as a federal contractor.XTrustworthy SourceU.S. Small Business AdministrationU.S. government agency focused on supporting small businessesGo to source
  • You’ll need the federal tax ID number of your business, as well as your Standard Industrial Classification codes.
  • You may have other codes, such as a federal supply code or product service codes. If you don’t have these, don’t worry about it â but if you do, they may come in handy.
  • 3Get a DUNS number. The federal government uses a unique, nine-digit number issued by Dun & Bradstreet to identify contractors. You can get a number free of charge if you are registering as a government contractor.XTrustworthy SourceU.S. Small Business AdministrationU.S. government agency focused on supporting small businessesGo to source
  • The Dreaded Government Shutdown

    In closing, I saved the most frustrating for last. As a DoD contractor, I never experienced the pain of a government shutdown because although my direct supervisors were furloughed, there were military people in the office who were given authority to supervise contractors. This was a great relief and was also good for the organization, because the work kept on despite the furlough. Some organizations are not as lucky, and without military staff to supervise, or if the mission is not deemed essential to national security, contractors can be sent home without pay. Unlike their federal government counterparts, they will not receive back pay once the shutdown is over. This is something to consider when choosing an organization to support.

    In closing, the decision to become a government contractor was the best decision Ive ever made, and I dont have a single regret. That doesnt mean I havent had challenges and missteps, but by and large there is great opportunity and success to be had as a government contractor, both professionally and personally. It isnt for everyone, but for those of us who have adapted and thrived, it is an incredible privilege and opportunity to work alongside government and military people who can serve as mentors, teachers, and even friends.

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    Be Prepared For A Lengthy Process

    Before you put in your first bid youll need to do a lot of background work, beginning with research to discover which government agencies purchase the products you offer. Start by searching the General Services Administration Schedules and the Federal Procurement Data System.

    Next, enroll your business in the System for Award Management. Be sure to complete all fields, including optional entries such as federal supply codes, past performance references and keywords. This will maximize the number of times your company appears in the search results when agencies are seeking potential federal contractors. When youve completed this step youll be allowed to apply to become a scheduled vendor.

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    How to become a federal contractor

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    Its Who You Are And Who You Know

    Simply appearing on the list of scheduled vendors isnt enough to bring contracts rolling in. Many federal government contractors get their start in the sector as employees of an existing contractor or government agency. If you dont have that kind of built-in network within government purchasing, youll need to be diligent about creating relationships with procurement officers at the agencies or sub-agencies where you want to become a vendor. You can also contact the small business liaisons at each target agency.

    Its easy to feel like a small fish in a very, very big pond, but there are several ways your business can stand out and compete with the sharks for contracts. The federal government requires that some contracts go to certified small businesses and encourages procurement officers to deliver relatively low-dollar contracts to these companies.

    In addition, bidding is only open on some contracts to small businesses located in designated low-income areas or those owned by service-disabled veterans, women, individuals of specific ethnicities and members of socially or economically disadvantaged groups. Contact your states Minority Business Enterprise agency to learn about becoming certified as one of these organizations, or visit the SBA website to learn more about contracting assistance programs.

    Sam Registration Guide: Become A Government Contractor

    The federal government includes hundreds of departments, agencies and offices and most of these entities need goods and services from the private sector. In order to work with the federal government, you will need to complete your System for Award Management registration, a complicated process, which is why weve created this SAM registration guide.

    What is the System for Award Management?The System for Award Management, usually just called SAM, is the huge database that contains all government contractors as well as those wanting to apply for federal grants. To do business with any government agency, including FEMA, the Department of Defense, etc. you must have completed SAM registration.

    How Much Does SAM Registration Cost?The government does not charge a fee for SAM registration. At Federal Contractor Registry, we are a third-party SAM registration service. You might wonder why someone would pay a third party to register them into the SAM database. While SAM registration is free, the truth is its extremely complicated and frustrating. Many of our clients are business owners that started to complete their SAM application, got frustrated or fed up and simply called us instead.

    It can take 10-15 hours to complete the SAM application. The application is filled with puzzling government-speak, and if youve never dealt with government agencies, you can become quickly confused by the questions and acronyms.

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    Federal Contractors: Understand Which Government Regulations Apply To You

    Staying on top of federal contractor regulations is complicated. Heres a basic primer on how to approach the task.

    When it comes to contracting for the federal government, small businesses have big opportunities. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 25% of federal contracts went to small businesses for a total of $90.7 billion.

    A lot has been written about how to score a federal contract. But once your company does, working with the government isnt as simple as signing a few papers and getting to work. There are myriad regulations your company must comply with to remain in good standing with the government and avoid being fined.

    This blog post will help you understand some of your responsibilities as a company contracting with the government.

    How To Find Success As A Federal Contractor

    How to Become a Government Contractor

    For obvious reasons, the government gives weightage to the most reliable and well-established businesses. And for you to win a bid, youll have to make your track record in delivering goods and services evident, as proof of your reputation and as proof that you can deliver within budget and on time.Youll also have to be technically active to some extent. As a small example, say you start working for the Department of Defense, then you must exchange invoices and payments online. Plus, while working on a project, you may find yourself surrounded by work on all sides and thats when a government contract management software application will come in handy.Now, we must surmise that not only will winning your first government contract take a lot of time, but will also set you back financially in most cases. According to government data, some businesses spend between $80,000 and $100,000 to win their first contract and it may take up to 2 years to see returns on your investment.This implies you must be sound financially and have cashflow ready to conduct business when you crack the deal. Moreover, to prevent losses, its always advisable to have a list of diverse private sector clients on the side.

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