How To Win A Government Contract Bid Avoid These 7 Mistakes
The government contracting industry offers one of the best growth opportunities, whether you run a small business or a large enterprise. Each year, the U.S. government mobilizes its federal contracting community to assist the government in bolstering the different key sectors of the nation. Recently they have awarded over $600 billion worth of federal government contracts last fiscal year to support the countrys recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
So how can you start staking your claim into that lucrative market opportunity?
You send a clear, compelling, and professionally-made federal government contract proposal.
Maximize Every Learning Resource Available To You
Aside from consuming informational articles online such as these, the Small Business Administration offers rich learning resources and servicesand most of them are free!
For starters, you can take up SBAs free online courses about federal contracting here. And also, this organization manages a network of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers that can be found locally. PTACs provide assistance to small businesses interested in government contracting, such as helping them register in the right places, connecting them with mentors, and finding contracts for them to bid on. Look for your nearest PTAC here.
Finding Business Opportunities With Samgov
Generally speaking, federal contractors and businesses interested in providing goods and services to the government must:
Businesses should first visit SAM.gov and register there to be notified of newly posted opportunities in their industries. SAM.gov provides a comprehensive database of all major government solicitations, contract awards, subcontracting opportunities, surplus property sales, and foreign business opportunities with the federal government.
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Historically Underutilized Business Zones
The Historically Underutilized Business Zones program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. These preferences go to small businesses that obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff who live in a HUBZone. The company business must also maintain a âprincipal officeâ in one of these specially designated areas. Here is a map of HUBZones in New Jersey.
Where To Find Government Contracts
There are many ways to locate potential federal contracts. We cover these in full in our article How to Become a Government Contractor, but you should begin by registering with the General Services Administration and on SAM.gov.
This will allow you access to the governments system for awarding contracts, and youll be able to search for opportunities that fit your business.
If you want to be part of a large contract that alone you could not fulfil, you can look at the options for becoming a subcontractor. You can find a directory of these on the GSA site, but you should also check out SubNet to see a range of opportunities for your business.
You will need a NAICS number to become a government contractor. There are many other legal requirements to be eligible. Check out our article for full information on becoming a government contractor.
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Be Highly Particular In Reviewing Your Rfp
When you are searching for contract opportunities, the first thing you should look for is their RFP or their Request For Proposal document. This important document contains all of the crucial information to guide you in writing your proposal.
Usually, RFPs can stretch to as long as 100 pages. It may be cumbersome to read, but you should pay close attention to every detail stated there lest you risk your firm getting eliminated from the competition pool due to technicalities.
Furthermore, RFPs are further divided into 13 sections. Each section is equally important, and you should pay even closer attention to the following sections:
- Section B Supplies or Services and Price/Costs
- Section C Description / Specifications / Statement of Work
- Section L Instructions, Conditions, And Notices To Offerors
- Section M Evaluation Criteria
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.
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Submission Modification And Withdrawal Of Bids
Bidders are responsible for submitting bids, and any modifications or withdrawals, so as to reach the Government office designated in the invitation for bid by the time specified in the IFB. They may use any transmission method authorized by the IFB . If no time is specified in the IFB, the time for receipt is 4:30 p.m., local time, for the designated Government office on the date that bids are due.
Any bid, modification, or withdrawal of a bid received at the Government office designated in the IFB after the exact time specified for receipt of bids is “late” and will not be considered unless it is received before award is made, the contracting officer determines that accepting the late bid would not unduly delay the acquisition and-
If it was transmitted through an electronic commerce method authorized by the IFB, it was received at the initial point of entry to the Government infrastructure not later than 5:00 p.m. oneworking day prior to the date specified for receipt of bids or
There is acceptable evidence to establish that it was received at the Government installation designated for receipt of bids and was under the Governments control prior to the time set for receipt of bids.
However, a late modification of an otherwise successful bid, that makes its terms more favorable to the Government, will be considered at any time it is received and may be accepted.
The date and hour of receipt.
The envelope, wrapper, or other evidence of the date of receipt.
Price Your Bid Appropriately
Federal contracting officers are expected to ensure that supplies and services for government agencies are purchased at fair and reasonable prices, and they conduct a significant amount of market research to understand typical pricing before making a proposal solicitation. At the same time, most solicitations are met with a competitive number of bids, leaving you as the business owner tasked with issuing a competitive bid while still reasonably maximizing your profit potential.
As you can imagine, setting your contract pricing well will be critical to your ability to win profitable government contracts. You need to consider your costs both during bidding and the fulfillment of the contract while allowing enough room for day-to-day overhead.
Remember as you bid that contracting officers arenât necessarily seeking the lowest price, but rather the best value with all factors considered. Look for ways to add value in your bid without increasing overhead costs to maximize your companyâs appeal as the âbest valueâ offer.
Perform A Market Research
The federal government mobilizes countless government contractors for different types of projects. But no matter how diverse the market looks, if your products or services are not in demand, then your chances of winning a contract with the government go down significantly.
As a best practice, perform thorough market research first to see how you will fare in the industry. Additionally, you should also look at who will be your competitors. You can visit USASpending.gov and the Government Contracting Opportunities Forecast Tool by the GSA.
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.
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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.
What Is A Requirements Contract For The Government
The basic requirements for government contracts are the same as those for commercial contracts. One difference is that a commercial contract typically involves an agreement between private parties, while government contracts are made on behalf of the government by an individual or company.
In addition, the requirements contract is used in government procurements and is required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation . Before any company can be awarded a contract, it must comply with these regulations.
Determine Your Business Size
You might assume that determining your businessâs size doesnt require much thought. However, for the purposes of qualifying for government contracts for small businesses, you need to qualify according to SBA size standards.To help you easily answer this question, the SBA offers a Size Standards Tool, which uses your NAICS number along with some basic information about your business to determine whether it qualifies as an SBA-designated small business.
Dont Use Technical Jargon
As we have already mentioned, communication is super important. In a bid proposal, you need to be clear and concise. The last thing you want to do is confuse the reader. This will instantly make them feel disconnected from your bid and confused.
Using technical jargon will almost always have this effect. This is because the buyer reviewing your bid will not be an expert in your field. So, using certain words and phrases will be jarring to the reader and theyll have to research what a word means. Thats provided they have the time, and in most cases they wont, and you will simply be marked down. Dont let little things have a big impact on your chances of success!
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Government Contracts For Small Businesses
One distinctive area of opportunity available to some small business owners is the possibility of working on federal or state government contracts. In an effort to promote business ownership and entrepreneurship in the United States, many government contracts provide for preferential treatment to be given to bids from small business owners who meet certain requirements. If this is an area of interest for your business, it is important to understand how the government contract process works and what you can do to best position your small business.
Mistakes To Avoid If Youre Writing A Government Contract Bid Proposal
The financial resource used to fund the government contracts is from the public. So in the spirit of transparency, the U.S. government has implemented a strict process for government contractors. However, before you win government contracts, a contracting officer will thoroughly review your past performance, business profile, and more to see how capable you are.
The first step in proving your competency is submitting a flawless contract bid. Crafting a proposal for federal contracts can be overwhelming, so here are some of the most common mistakes that you should avoid when writing your proposal:
Find Us Government Contracts That Are A Good Fit
Once youve registered with SAM, its time to look for contracts.
SAM has a powerful search engine that allows you to filter and browse through government solicitations for contracts valued at $25,000 or more. It also lets you look at previous contract awards, which can be a great way to learn how to write a successful proposal.
Youll want to understand the difference between the types of solicitations. The main types are:
- Invitation for bid : This is typically when a government purchaser knows what they need and wants to find the best price. An IFB works through a “sealed-bid” process, meaning all parties submit bids without being able to see others’ bids until the agency awards the contract to the winner. There’s little negotiation involved, so make sure you can deliver what’s being asked before responding to an IFB.
- Request for quotation : An RFQ uses a process called simplified acquisition, in which the government asks for quotations but is not obligated to make an offer. A government agency may put out an RFQ when its still trying to figure out its needs and budget for something.
- Request for proposal : This is when an agency is looking for a solution to its problem. With an RFP, an agency isn’t necessarily looking for the lowest price and will publish a detailed solicitation. You’ll respond to it with a detailed proposal and may have to go back and forth answering questions as you negotiate a contract.
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.
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How To Win Government Contracts
To win a government contract, first, you need to bid on it. Here is the step by step on how to do this.
Find the contract your business could complete. You can look on the Government Procurement website to determine which contracts are available and when they close. When you have found a contract, read the request for proposal , Request for Quotations , Invitation for Bids
Make sure you understand what the government is seeking. The invitation will also tell you how to submit your bid. Do not make the mistake of bidding on a contract that is only partially a match for the services your business provides or is too big for you to handle. Offers are not accepted blindly, so make sure that any contracts you bid on match your business interests well to ensure the best chance of success.
Check the submission guidelines and follow them precisely. The government is very specific about what they want and how they want to receive it. Please make sure you include everything required and submit it by the deadline. If your bid is not complete or arrives late, it will be disqualified.
You will be competing against other businesses for the contract, so make sure your bid is competitive. Research what other companies are charging for similar services, make sure your offer is lower or equal to theirs or show that additional benefits would come from working with you. The government is looking for the best value, not necessarily the lowest price.
Descriptive Bidding On Government Contracts
RFP proposals can get very gray and boring without visual support. Images and graphs can help tell your story. They can better show technical details while doing it more effectively than words. Use words familiar to the agency and include their logos or property images to custom-tailor the proposal.
While details are important, you dont want to get too descriptive when discussing pricing. The agency is always going to look for ways to get the price down. Dont provide details that would make it easy to cut into your margin. Price items at a high level, just like when doing a schedule of values. Then leave some room in your prices so the agency can come up with savings as they slice and dice the numbers.
Finally, at every government level, you will have rules to follow, so use all the contracting resources supplied by the agency to understand those. If they offer training materials, use them. When you dont understand something, ask for clarification.
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Finding Government Contracts To Bid On
There are several ways to find federal government bid opportunities. Some of them are more efficient than others, but make a habit to periodically check all of them.
Search for bidding opportunities at SAM.gov
Previously,the main source for contracting opportunities was Federal Business Opportunitywebsite, or fbo.gov. Now, the FedBizOpps isobsolete, and all the juicy government business opportunities can be found at Sam.govinstead.
The mainreason why sam.gov is crucial for locating open government contracts is thatfederal agencies are obliged to publish all contracts above $25,000 there.Which means a lot of contracts are advertised at any given time.
And what about contracts below $25,000? They are put on a government charge card, so you will need to contact with a procurement contracting officer directly to find out when the bid is open.