The Ins And Outs Of Governmental Construction Bidding
Government construction contracts can be extremely lucrative for commercial construction firms. In 2018, construction spending from federal, state, and local agencies totaled $307.1 billion dollars, with $21.3 billion coming from federal agencies and $285.8 billion from state and local agencies, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Thats a 3.6% increase over the total public construction spending from 2017. Through August 2019, public construction spending has totaled $214.3 billion, which is on pace to exceed 2018s total.
Many construction firms rely on government construction contracts as their sole source of revenue, while others will bid on a mix of public and private opportunities. There are a number of regulations and statutes governing public construction contracting. These can vary greatly between agencies, so its important to understand which rules apply and carefully read all the bidding requirements when pursuing public construction contracts.
While an exhaustive list of all the regulations and statutes for all the federal, state, and local agencies would be nearly impossible to compile, there are some common requirements and practices that nearly all agencies follow. Heres a look at a few things to keep in mind when bidding on government construction contracts.
Receipt Of An Unreadable Electronic Bid
If a bid received at the Government facility by electronic data interchange is unreadable to the degree that conformance to the essential requirements of the invitation for bids cannot be ascertained, the contracting officer immediately shall notify the bidder that the bid will be rejected unless the bidder provides clear and convincing evidence-
Of the content of the bid as originally submitted and
That the unreadable condition of the bid was caused by Government software or hardware error, malfunction, or other Government mishandling.
Veterans Preference In Contracting
If your business is run by a veteran of the armed forces, you may also qualify for special veterans preference contracting categories. There are two veterans preference programs for federal contracts the Service-Disabled Veteran-owned Small Business Concern Program and the VAs Veterans First Contracting Program. Both programs were enumerated with the goal of helping military veterans secure competitive federal government contracts.
The Service-Disabled Veteran-owned Small Business Concern Program is designed to help disabled veterans running small businesses bid for federal contracts where there is a specific unmet need. The Program is only applicable to sole-source contracts and requires that a minimum of 3% of sole-source contracts be awarded to small businesses owned by disabled veterans. In other words, the Program does not assist veterans businesses in the competitive bidding process. Rather, when the federal government has a specific unfilled need for a contractor, it will ask veterans-owned small businesses to fill that need without resorting to competitive bidding.
You Can File A Protest If You Dont Win A Contract
If you lose a contract but believe you should have won, you can file a protest to appeal your bid. A bid protest challenges the contract award. Protests can be filed with the United States Government Accountability Office and can be filed against procurement actions by federal government agencies, according to the office. Protests cannot be filed against procurement actions by nonfederal government agencies.
Where To Look For Federal Contracts
There are a number of places to monitor for contract opportunities as the government releases requests for proposals. Use these resources to see the government contracts on which your company could bid.
- The Contract Opportunities Search Tool on beta.SAM.gov: This is the official database of federal contracting opportunities. You will need to create a profile to bid on contracts through this portal: have your DUNS number ready as well as your NAICS codes.
- The Dynamic Small Business Search : This is a database that government agencies use to find small business contractors for upcoming contracts. Its maintained by the SBA. You can also use the DSBS to find a small business with which to partner.
- FedBizOpps.gov: This website is where government agencies are required to advertise all contracts over $25,000.
- The GSA Schedules Program: This program connects government buyers with contractors. When you get on the GSA schedule, it means youve been approved to do business with the government.
- SubNet: This is a database of subcontracting opportunities, where a large enterprise looks to partner with a small business on a government contract. This could be a good option if youve never worked on a government contract before and want an enterprise with experience to show you the ropes.
Recommended Reading: Free Grant Money For Home Improvements Government
How Does The Contract System Work
GeneralServices Administration is responsible for supplying federal agencieswith goods and services they need. The range of such goods and service is notall-encompassing, but still is wide enough to cover the majority of spheres andindustries. Basically, the government needs almost everything.
The vehicleto purchase goods and services for the federal agencies needs is calledSchedules. A schedule award opens up contracting opportunities for a business.Bidding for such opportunities and winning the bid effectively signs thecontract between that business and the government.
And learning how to bid is a significant part of your success in doing business with the largest customer in the world.
Hire A Professional Agency
Theprocurement process has many pitfalls, sometimes very tricky ones. Nothing thatyou could not handle, of course, but losing a bid for any reasons means yousimply wasted a lot of time and now need to start from the beginning. And thenmay be again. And again.
Hiring a professional means you are protected from numerous novice mistakes right from the onset, save time and effort, and greatly improve your odds on winning. Experts in GSA consulting know very well how to bid on government contracts to make the bid look sound and hale. An expert can also provide a number of tips and advices that can be extremely helpful in composing your proposal.
Also Check: Us Government Cars For Sale
Role Of The Labour Program
The Labour Program is responsible for the administration of the FCP. This includes
- promoting awareness of the importance of employment equity
- providing information, tools and guidance and working with contractors to help them understand their obligations, and
- conducting scheduled compliance assessments of contractors
For more information on the FCP compliance policy, consult the FCP compliance requirements.
Read The Solicitation Thoroughly
Asolicitation package may contain a number of documents, specifications,attachments and requirements: technical conditions, delivery volume and terms,required certifications, what documents you need to submit, and so on. Withhundreds of government contracts out for bid, you should still remember thatevery opportunity is different, and carefully read all the attached documents.Missing a bid opportunity is bad, but much worse is to bid on the contract youhave no way to complete.
If you have questions ask! Typically, a contracting officer is willing to clarify details about the solicitation, so dont rely on wild guesses when bidding. Make sure you understand every single point of the solicitation you bid on. Also, you may need to read the corresponding FARs that govern the solicitation you are to respond to make sure you know the regulations and requirements.
When thefederal government has contracts for bid, it awaits fair and reasonable pricingbased on the MFC principle. Apparently, you cannot winif you bid too high, but bidding below the ground level is also wrong.Remember: you will need to prove your prices later on by providing actual PriceProposal and Price Narrative documents.
You May Like: Fulton County Government Human Resources
Role Of Government Contracting Authorities
The Government of Canada contracting authorities solicit bids and award goods and services contracts. Once a contract valued at $1 million or more has been awarded, the contracting authoritys role is to:
- inform the contractor of the FCP requirements and their obligations
- request and obtain a signed Agreement to Implement Employment Equity form or obtain the current and valid AIEE number issued by the Labour Program, and
- forward the organization’s AIEE information to the Labour Program within 30 days following the contract award date
Rejected Get The Facts Straight
Even ifyour bid was rejected, there is still work to do. Get back to the ContractingOfficer and ask questions: what you did wrong, how you can avoid being rejectedin the future, and what specifically you can fix in your proposal to make itmore winnable next time. No hysteria remain professional. Show that you areserious about fixing the problem your business has.
Finally, you can appeal.
You May Like: Government Grants To Start Trucking Business
How To Bid On Government Contract Work
Regardless of who gets elected in November, one thing you can be sure of is that the government will continue to spend big money on contracts.
Last year, the federal government spent an estimated $439 billion across 31,000 contracts. That amount does not even include the billions of dollars that state and local government agencies spend each year.
In short, there is a lot of money to be made in contracting for the government. However, bidding on government contracts can be a drawn-out process that takes several months. It is also highly competitive, as you are likely to be bidding against experienced government vendors.
If your company is fairly new to bidding on public sector work, these eight tips can help you win your share of RFPs from the federal, state and local governments:
Determine If You Are A Small Business
Being classified as a small business can be a huge advantage. The federal government is required to commit at least 23% of its contract work to small businesses each year. To learn what the government considers to be a small business in your industry, explore the North American Industry Classification codes here. The site includes a table that lists the maximum number of employees and revenue that contractors can have and still qualify as a small business.
You May Like: Government Funding For Internet High Speed
Mbe Dbe & Sbe Programs
In order to ensure that small, minority-, and women-owned firms had the equal opportunity to participate and compete for construction contracts, many federal, state, and local agencies have established programs to award a certain number of contracts to those businesses.
These programs usually have an overall participation goal for all their projects. For instance, Maryland has the countrys oldest Minority Business Enterprise program, dating back to 1978, with a 29% overall participation goal for all construction projects for most state agencies. The U.S. DOT has the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program that covers federal transportation projects and state and local projects that received financial assistance from the U.S. DOT.
The U.S. DOT defines a DBE as:
A for-profit small business concerns where socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51% interest and also control management and daily business operations.
African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific and Subcontinent Asian Americans, and women are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged. Other individuals can also qualify as socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis.
Businesses that fall into any of these categories should get their business certified and registered with the individual agencies in order to take advantage of these programs and projects.
What Government Contracting Opportunities Are Available To Small Businesses
Federal, state and local government contracts are open to businesses across most industries. As the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world, the United States government spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year on its contracts, and roughly one quarter of them are designated for small businesses.
Once your business is registered with the U.S. governments System for Award Management , you can begin searching for contract opportunities. You can filter your searches by keyword and specifically seek out contracts that are set aside for small businesses. When youve found a viable opportunity, you can prepare your bid for the contract.
Keep in mind that it typically takes 30 to 120 days for the government to review submissions and select their contractors, though it can take longer to get started.
It’s not a quick process, said Sundee Peterson, assistant program manager of the Eastern United States at Strategic Resources, Inc. You don’t just fill out an online application and start doing contract work. It takes time to really get to know a particular organization, build relationships and go through the application process.
You May Like: American Government A Brief Introduction
Request For Supply Arrangement
This method is used to solicit bids from a pool of pre-qualified suppliers for specific requirements. The intent is to establish a framework to permit expeditious processing individual bid solicitations which result in legal binding contracts for the goods and services described in those bid solicitations.
For more information, please visit the Supply Arrangements Web page.
Consider Becoming A Subcontractor
You do not have to do business directly with the government. In fact, becoming a subcontractor for a larger company will spare you much of the time and paperwork that goes with government bidding. Large government suppliers have their own data networks and you may have to register with them to become a subcontractor. Another resource is Supplier Connection, an IBM-powered website that connects small businesses with major government suppliers like AT& T, Du Pont, UPS and more.
Recommended Reading: How To Join The Government
Receipt And Safeguarding Of Bids
All bids received before the time set for the opening of bids shall be kept secure. Except as provided in paragraph of this section, the bids shall not be opened or viewed, and shall remain in a locked bid box, a safe, or in a secured, restricted-access electronic bid box. If an invitation for bids is cancelled, bids shall be returned to the bidders. Necessary precautions shall be taken to ensure the security of the bid box or safe. Before bid opening, information concerning the identity and number of bids received shall be made available only to Government employees. Such disclosure shall be only on a “need to know” basis. When bid samples are submitted, they shall be handled with sufficient care to prevent disclosure of characteristics before bid opening.
Envelopes marked as bids but not identifying the bidder or the solicitation may be opened solely for the purpose of identification, and then only by an official designated for this purpose. If a sealed bid is opened by mistake , the envelope shall be signed by the opener, whose position shall also be written thereon, and delivered to the designated official. This official shall immediately write on the envelope an explanation of the opening, the date and time opened, and the invitation for bids number, and shall sign the envelope. The official shall then immediately reseal the envelope.
Advance Contract Award Notices
An ACAN is a public notice published on the Tenders minisite for 15 calendar days indicating to the supplier community that a department or agency intends to award a contract for goods, services or construction to a pre-identified supplier, thereby allowing other suppliers to signal their interest in bidding by submitting a statement of capabilities. If no supplier submits a statement of capabilities that meets the requirements set out in the ACAN, on or before the closing date stated, the buyer will proceed with the contract award.
When a department or agency claims that there is only one source for a requirement, PWGSC scrutinizes the situation very carefully. If you feel your company can fulfill the requirement set out in an ACAN, you can submit a statement of capabilities for this requirement. If in fact your statement meets the requirements, the buyer will then proceed with the competitive process.
Don’t Miss: Hotels With Best Government Rates
Bid On Government Contracts: Step
Find The Best Option For Your Needs
First, we will look at how you can find the contracts that youre interested in. Then we will explain how to bid on a government contract with step-by-step instructions.
Federal government contracts are published on the FedBizOpps website. If you want to pursue contracts at the federal level, you can register your business with FedBizOpps to receive notifications about new opportunities that align well with your business.
Finding suitable contracts at the state, county, regional and municipal levels can be much more time-consuming for small and medium sized vendors. With thousands of Requests for Proposal , Requests for Quote and Invitations for Bid being published across the U.S. every day, it can be difficult to keep up with them all.
In order to find opportunities in these jurisdictions, you will need to visit state bidding portals, municipal administration websites, and county purchasing departments. Most of these portals require you to complete a registration process.
If your business employs a person dedicated solely to researching contract opportunities, the do-it-yourself method can work for you. Keep in mind, however, that the time required to evaluate if a contract is right for your business can lead to spending a lot of resources on research and evaluation, instead of bidding on contracts.
Using a Bid Service
Recommended Reading: Government Grants For First Time Home Buyers With Bad Credit