We are constantly approached by individuals (as well as newly formed businesses) that want to get into federal contracting but don't know where to start and/or aren't necessarily sure how to go about doing so. For a variety of reasons, Federal contracting may not be appropriate for every business and the decision to pursue federal contracts should be well-thought out. In this series, we will provide a variety of practical, low-cost tips that we hope will be useful to those considering entering the federal marketplace.
On a related note, prospective contractors also need to determine whether there is in fact a federal market for the products/services they intend to sell to the government (and also how big that market is). While the government does procure a wide variety of things, they don't buy everything. Thus, market research is an important part of the process and one that should be done sooner rather than later.
We recommend the following as starting points for research:
1. FedBizOpps (www.fbo.gov) - FBO has been designated as the single source for government procurement opportunities that exceed $25,000 in value. The system allows users to search by a number of search criteria, including location, NAICS code, agency, key word, etc.
2. Federal Procurement Data System/FPDS (www.fpds.gov) - FPDS is the central repository of statistical information on Federal contracting. It provides detailed information on contract actions over $25,000 and summary data on procurements under $25,000. This system identifies who bought what, from whom, for how much, when and where.
3. USA Spending (www.usaspending.gov) - This site provides data on federal purchases (and first tier subcontracts) worth more than $25,000. Similar to FPDS, this site is helpful for finding out whether the federal government purchases goods/services your business provides and who they are currently purchasing from (or have purchased from in the past).
4. Dynamic Small Business Search (dsbs.sba.gov) - This search allows users to find information on other small businesses in the area, including their industries, experience, qualifications and whether they are current or former participants in a small business set-aside program. Note that the information contained on specific businesses may not necessarily be current, as businesses are responsible for updating their profiles.
5. GSA Schedule (www.gsa.gov) - By searching the GSA schedules, you can get valuable information regarding whether an agency purchases from the schedule for your products/services as well as information on who your competitors are and what their pricing is. In addition, you can find potential teaming partners that are already on the schedule.