Sell to the Government

8 steps to doing business with the government

  1. Look locally. Contact your city and county public works departments to find out how they publish bid opportunities.
  2. For state and national bid opportunities, get your business certified.
    • Self-certifications: The federal government recognizes small businesses (SBE), women-owned (WBE), and disadvantaged (i.e. minority) businesses (SDB). The SBA has established two widely used size standards for small business:
      • Fewer than 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries, and
      • Less than $7 million in average annual receipts for most nonmanufacturing industries.
    There is no formal certification process, but on request, you need to provide proof that you satisfy the size and for WBE and SDB’s the ownership requirement.

  3. Even if you are not certified, register on SAM. The federal government uses SAM (System for Award Management). You can register at https://www.sam.gov/. You can do a search on existing registered businesses at http://web.sba.gov/pro-net/search/dsp_dsbs.cfm.
  4. Look for large opportunities and sign up for email notifications. Federal opportunities for $25,000 and more can be found at https://www.fbo.gov.
  5. California’s bid opportunities can be found at http://www.eprocure.dgs.ca.gov/

  6. Look for sub-contracting opportunities. The government bid process can take six months. It is often faster to find sub-contracting opportunities with companies that have already received a government contract. You can find federal sub-contracting opportunities at http://web.sba.gov/subnet/search/
    dsp_search_option.cfm
    .
  7. For sub-contracting opportunities for CalTrans projects, look for companies which have been awarded contracts at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/esc/oe/planholders/
    awarded.php

  8. Network and market your business to find opportunities under $25,000. All purchases under $100,000 are supposed to go to small business. Federal agencies use credit cards for purchases of $2,500 or less. For purchases between $2,500 and $25,000, they must obtain quotes from at least three vendors.
  9. In California, contracts under $100,000 can avoid the bid process if the agency solicits at least two certified SBE (small business) or DVBE (disabled veteran) firms and awards the bid to one of them.

  10. Use small business liaisons. Federal and state agencies have small business liaisons who help small businesses with the procurement process. The California Small Business Advocate maintains a list of department liaisons. Visit http://www.sba.ca.gov/index.php?a=dvbe/index.html.
  11. Get help from your SBDC. Visit http://contracostasbdc.org/.
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