The federal government purchases more than $115 billion worth of goods and services each year from small business prime contractors. By law, the government must buy no less than 23 percent from small businesses.
To be successful in federal contracting, you need to keep up with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). For more information, log on to the Web site located at http://farsite.hill.af.mil/.
There are huge changes since August 2010 in favor of small business contracting. Always remember that on federal contracting in any small business set-aside program, you must perform work according to respective set-aside clauses. For small business, service disabled veterans, women-owned small business, 8(a) and historically underutilized business (HUB) zone programs, submit proposals clearly demonstrating you will perform your percentages. They all vary, some significantly.
For a list of federal procurement opportunities, log on to www.fbo.gov. This site includes a search engine to help you browse the latest federal solicitations by agency. If you’re an apparent successful offeror, you must register your business in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database at www.ccr.gov, but I suggest you register first. CCR contains encrypted information that allows you to get paid if you’re successful in receiving an award.
The CCR database has a second part called the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS). Don’t forget to complete this and keep it updated. When you save your CCR information, remember to click on the SBA logo to get to the second part of the system. DSBS allows you to include a profile of your firm that includes past performance, capabilities narrative and keywords that are available to contracting officers and other large or small business prime contractors for possible subcontracting or teaming.
Your official representation that you are a “small business” firm for federal contracting purposes is made using the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) at www.ccr.gov after you complete your CCR registration.
Which agencies are buying the products or services you sell? The Federal Procurement Data Center — log on to www.fpds.gov/fpdsng_cms — shows how federal agencies are spending their money in detail. Of the nearly $536.7 billion in federal agency spending during 2010, nearly 23 percent was awarded to small firms — not including the numerous subcontracting opportunities small businesses have with large corporations. The latest information on federal contracting also can be found at USA Spending at www.usaspending.gov.
SBA procurement center representatives (PCRs) are procurement professionals — the vast majority are former contracting officers from the Defense Department or civilian agencies — who help small businesses with federal contracting issues on a one-on-one basis. PCRs also work with federal contracting agencies to make sure they set aside a fair share of contracts and subcontracting opportunities for small business.
It’s critical that small business owners advise PCRs about potential federal projects they believe should be set aside for small businesses. Small business owners can respond to sources sought on www.fbo.gov for procurements in which they’re interested. A list of PCRs can be found at the SBA Web site at www.sba.gov. For more extended assistance on federal, state and local procurements, visit the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center Web site at www.ColoradoPtac.org or the Colorado Small Business Development Center Web site at www.coloradosbdc.org. Online procurement advice on government contracts and subcontracts is available from www.sba.gov.
Subcontracting also offers a good option for small businesses. A list of subcontracting opportunities can be found at www.sba.gov/content/sub-net. Large prime contractors have small business liaison officers who advise small business owners how to find contract opportunities at their companies. The SBA has commercial market representatives who work with these large prime contractors. To find a CMR, log on to www.sba.gov.
For a copy of a 26-page marketing directory, send an e-mail to Jose.Martinez@sba.gov. or Karen.Klam@sba.gov.
The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program that took effect earlier this year sets aside certain federal contracts for eligible women-owned small businesses or economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. Federal contracting officers can set projects aside in certain North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes.
All regulations, needed documents, the repository for documents, applicable NAICS codes and a compliance guide for women-owned small businesses and contracting officers can be found on the Web site located at www.sba.gov/wosb.
Additional information about SBA programs and services, including those related to federal contracts, is available at www.sba.gov or by calling the SBA Colorado District Office at (303) 844-2607.
Jose Martinez is an SBA procurement center representative. Reach him at (303) 844-2607 or Jose.Martinez@sba.gov.