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How to Bid and Win Government Contracts
 
Government Contracting Facts
How the Government Buys
Benefit from Government Contracting
Government Contracting Terminologies
Common Goods and Services Purchased and Solicited by the Government
Searching Government Solicitation Opportunities
Register with the Government Agency as Vendors
Respond to Solicitation: Preparing Bids and Proposals
Elements of a Proposal
Track Proposal or Bid
 

Government Contracting Facts
   
 
  • Less than 5% of the businesses in the United States do business with the U.S. Government.
  • The U.S. Government is the largest company in the world. Approximately $1 billion in new opportunities in the services sector of Government contracting were available to bid on by private business each day.
  • The federal government signs over 11 million contracts a year.
  • Companies are winning and are awarded new contracts daily. About 95% of federal contracts are awarded to small- and medium-sized business vendors.
  • Government procure services range from Food Services and Janitorial projects to complex space flight systems development.
  • A Small Business Set-Aside Program (SBSA) was developed to help assure that small businesses are awarded a fair proportion of government contracts by reserving certain government purchases exclusively for participation by small business concerns. Any contract that has an anticipated dollar value between $2,500 and $100,000 in value is reserved for small, small disadvantaged, woman-owned, and small veteran-owned businesses.
 

   
How the Government Buys
 
The government purchases the products or services it needs by two methods: sealed bidding and negotiation. The sealed bidding is formal advertising which involves the issuance of an Invitation for Bid (IFB) by a procuring agency. Following receipt and evaluation of the bids, a contract is usually awarded to the lowest priced bidder, determined to be responsive and responsible by the contracting officer. The second method of competitive proposals is buying by negotiation which involves the issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quotations (RFQ), and the negotiation of each element in the proposal. An award is made to the proposer who has the best proposal in terms of both technical content and price.

Invitations for Bids (IFBs) usually include a copy of the specifications for the particular proposed purchase, instructions for preparation of bids, and the conditions of purchase, delivery and payment schedule. The IFB also designates the date and time of bid opening. Each sealed bid is opened in public at the purchasing office at the time designated in the invitation. Facts about each bid are read aloud and recorded. A contract is then awarded to the low bidder whose bid conforms with all requirements of the invitation and will be advantageous to the government in terms of price, and price-related factors included in the invitation.

When buying by negotiation, the government uses procedures that differ from sealed bidding. Buying by negotiation is authorized in certain circumstances by law under applicable Federal regulations (Federal Acquisition Regulation or FAR). Negotiated contracts often cover advanced technology not widely supplied by small businesses and may include very complex areas of research and development, projects connected with highly sophisticated systems, missile programs, and aircraft and weapons systems. Negotiation procedures, however, may also be applied to more-or-less standard items, when negotiation authority has been properly documented by the contracting office. For example, items or services may be purchased by negotiation when it is impossible to draft adequate specifications or to describe fully the specific item, service, or project.

Requests for Quotations (RFQs) may be used in negotiated procurements to communicate government requirements to prospective contractors. A quotation received in response to an RFQ is not an offer and cannot be accepted by the government to create a binding contract. An RFQ may be used when the government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of the solicitation but wishes to obtain price, delivery, or other information for planning purposes. After reviewing the various quotations received on the proposed purchase, the contracting officer may negotiate further with the firms that have submitted acceptable proposals to assure the contract most advantageous to the government.
 
   
   
Benefit from Government Contracting
   
 
  • You get paid regularly from this client. Government contracting allows businesses, many small and mid-sized businesses, to have a bevy of profitable, long term contracts. For example, many Federal Government contracts have continuous contract terms for three to five years. This provides a long term steady cash flow with decent profit margins.
  • Your client won't move away, run away and hide, and not pay their bills.
  • The high profile your company achieves as a result of Government Contracts is a good advertising tool for your firm.
  • Government contracting can make your business grow fast. Companies currently involved in government contracting started out with smaller contracts and worked their way into larger and larger contract awards. Begin to prepare your company today for long term growth in the expanding Federal Government marketplace.
  • The government is literally seeking vendors in all avenues of business. Whatever service or product your company provides, the government is seeking it.
 
   
Government Contracting Terminologies
   
 
  • Bid - a tender, proposal or quotation submitted in response to a solicitation from a contracting authority
  • Bidders' Conference - a meeting to discuss with potential bidders, technical, operational and performance specifications, and/or the full extend of financial, security and other contractual obligations related to a bid solicitation
  • Closing Date - the deadline for all bid submissions
  • Competitive Bidding - offers submitted by individuals or firms competing for a contract, privilege or right to supply specified services or merchandise
  • Contract - obligation between competent parties up a legal consideration, to do or abstain from doing some act
  • Contract Amendment - an agreed addition to, deletion from, correction or modification of a contract
  • Contractor - one who contracts to perform work or furnish materials in accordance with a contract.
  • Estimated Value - indicates the approximate value of the contract
  • Procurement - the process of obtaining material and services which includes the determination of requirements and acquisition from a supply system or by purchase from the trade
  • Proposal - an offer, submitted in response to a request from a contracting authority, that constitutes a solution to the problem, requirement or objective in the request
  • Invitation for Bid (IFB) ?an IFB is also referred to as a “sealed bid? It is usually for requirements over $100,000, it is competitive and the lowest bid will win
  • Request for Proposal (RFP) - an RFP, while generally used for requirements of $25,000 or more, is often employed for requirements where the selection of a supplier cannot be made solely on the basis of the lowest price. An RFP is used to procure the most cost-effective solution based upon evaluation criteria identified in the RFP
  • Request for Quotation (RFQ) - an RFQ is normally sent out when a requisition is received for goods and services valued at less than $25,000. The bid documents are kept simple so that the contract can be awarded quickly
 
   
Common Goods and Services Purchased and Solicited by the Government
   
 
  • Architectural: Civil Engineering, Engineering Design and Drafting
  • Cleaning and Custodial: Janitorial Equipment and Supplies, Linen and Towel Services, Parking Lot, Window washing
  • Construction and Remodeling: General Contractor, Roads, Bridges,/ Sidewalk, Roofing / Roof, Door, Window, Ceiling, Flooring / Floor, Fencing / Fence, Painting, Carpentry, Cabinet, Mill Work, Plumbing, Pumps, Pipeline, Sanitation, Drainage, Water-Proofing, Electrical / Electronic, Lighting, Elevators, Escalators, Lifts, Playground
  • Construction and Building Materials: Masonry, Stone, Brick, Tile, Drywall, Plaster, Road Work, Concrete
  • Consulting Services: Grants Writing, Lobbyist, Legal, Litigation, Mediation, Arbitration
  • Environment and Conservation: Surveying, Mapping, Aerial Photography, Environmental Testing, Site Inspection, Asbestos, Hazardous Waste, Trash Disposal,
  • Recycling, Waste Water, Sewage Treatment, Air Purification, Tanks, Excavation, Demolition, Salvage
  • Financial and Accounting: Accounting, Bookkeeping, Auditing, Credit Card Services, Credit Reports, Medicaid billing, Debt Collection, Financial Consulting,
  • Retirement Plan, Investment
  • Food Services: Cafeteria, Catering, Drink, Vending Machines, Concession Stands
  • Garden and Landscaping: Lawn Care, Mowers, Snow Removal, Sprinkler, Irrigation, Insect, Pest and Bird Control, Herbicide
  • HR Services: Personnel, Staffing, Recruiting, Executive Search, Training, Office and Clerical, Secretarial, Proficiency Assessment, Relocation
  • Computer Hardware: Computer Cabling, Hardware Rental, Repair and Maintenance
  • Computer Software: Information Technology (IT) Consulting, Programming, Computer Security, Firewall, Database, Data Storage, Backup & Recovery, E-learning, Computer or Web-based Training, E-Procurement
  • Insurance: Auto, Marine, Aviation, disability and life insurance, workers compensation, Dental, Healthcare
  • Machine Shop and Fabrication: Metal fabrication, Lathing, Welding, Machining, Tools and Tooling, Hardware, Repair, Body Work, HVAC, Mechanical
  • Mailing: Courier, Messenger Service, Labeling, Sorting, Postage Equipment, Packing Supply
  • Marketing and Communication: Advertising, Logos, Banners, Conference, Convention, Event Management, Market Research, Survey, Call Center, Multimedia, Promotional, Tradeshow Display, Graphic Design
  • Medical and Laboratory: Lab Testing, Pharmacy, Medical Device, Medical and Laboratory Equipment and Instrument, Dental, Veterinary, Medical Professionals,
  • Personal Care, Rehabilitation, Psychotherapy, Drug Counseling, Medical Facilities, Ambulance, Burial, Cremation
  • Office Supplies: Copier, Printer, Cartridges, Toners, Fax Machines, Furniture, Toiletries, Filing Systems, VCRs, Radio, Television, AV Equipment, Shredding
  • Other Products: Battery, Museum, Musical Instruments and Accessories, Uniform, Embroidery, Clothing, Individual Equipment, and Insignia, Athletic Equipment, Firing Ranges, Signage, Way finding (wayfinding), Agricultural, Forestry, Animals, Lumber Mills, Household Appliances and Equipment, Chemicals, Fuel, Oils, Utilities, Elections, Voting Equipment and Supplies
  • Other Services: Recreational Services, Private Investigator, Community Services, Polygraph, Auctions, For Sale, Auctioneering, Re-Upholstery, Equipment Lease or Rental
  • Printing, Reproduction: Equipment, Bindery, Book Binding, Typeset, Duplicating, Photocopying, Graphic Design, Layouts, Lettering, Calligraphy, Microfilming, Microfiche, Photo Lab, Photo Finishing, Screen Printing
  • Research: Energy, Healthcare, Science and Technology
  • Security and Safety: Fire Fighting, Rescue, Fire Control Equipment, Fire Alarms, Extinguishers, Fire Sprinkler, Lock Smith, Security Equipment, Mass Notification, Warning Sirens, Security Access, Smart ID, Security Guard, Radio Dispatch, Guard Dog, Law Enforcement, Surveillance, Camera
  • Facility Rental and Management: Buildings, Warehouses, Parking Facilities, Meeting Room, Offices, Hotel, Trailers, Portable Classrooms
  • Telecommunication: Cables and Cabling, Fiber Optics, GIS, GPS, Network, VPN, Telecom Systems, Radio and Computer Aided Dispatch, Vehicle Tracking System, Voice Over IP, Voice mail, Wireless, Mobile Technology and Device
  • Translation, Transcription: Interpreters, Translation (Foreign Language), Sign Language, Medical Transcription
  • Transporting and Warehousing: Bus, Van, Vehicles, Helicopter, Aircraft, Aviation, Travel Service, Fleet Management, Hauling, Freight, Trucking, Towing, Office Moves, Warehousing, Storage, Trucks, Utility Trailers, Marine, Docks, Boats
  • Weapons and Ammunitions: Explosive, Armored Vehicles
   
   
Searching Government Solicitation Opportunities
 
If you are a small businesses who is just getting started, you might find doing business with the government can be confusing. It is important that you do your research, and be prepared before you actually begin bidding for contracts. By law, all federal procurements over $25,000 must be published. Under-$25,000 opportunities may be published at the discretion of the buyer. There are about 80,000 public purchasing authorities in the United States. Many of these authorities post solicitation and bidding opportunities that are spread over thousands of Web sites. It is impossible for a business to monitor all the sales opportunities while keeping an eye on business operation.

Bid Contract is the source for companies wishing to thrive in government contracting. Bid Contract sends you current government bids and government contracts via its daily notification emails. These emails will contain all the newly published government procurement and solicitation opportunities that match your business interests.
 

   
   
 Register with the Government Agency as Vendors
 
Government agencies will typically require that your company be registered with them before they can do business with you. If you wish to do business with the Federal government you must register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). Government agencies and private industry are only required to register in the database once with subsequent requirements for annual updates. Registering with CCR automatically registers you with every Defense agency.

Registering with local governments varies from one government agency to another. Different government agencies tend to do things differently. So be prepared to discover that selling to one government buyer is much different from selling to another. You may be required to fill out multiple pages of paperwork to mail in, or it can be as simple as a 10 minute online form. Sometimes, if you’re selling to a state, or especially local government, there may be no registration requirement, particularly for lower-priced products. Registering to do business with government agencies can be cumbersome. Focus first on only those with whom you will actually conduct business in the short term. Don’t spend too much time until you’ve determined there’s a reasonable probability the agency is going to become a customer.

Another reason for registering wit the government agency is being able to be included in the bidders list. The bidders list is the tool most widely used by federal procurement offices to identify potential contractors. A bidders list contains names of suppliers of materials and services which are possible sources from whom bids may be solicited. The bidders list is made up of business firms that have advised the buying office of a federal Agency or department that they want to bid on a particular item and have supplied data showing their ability to fulfill contracts for the item, service or project.  The following are some of the factors government agencies use in evaluating prospective suppliers for their bidders:

  • Size of firm
  • Past experience
  • Financial status
  • Management staff capabilities
  • The company's record with regard to labor relations
  • Work capacity
  • Bonding capacity
  • Product service record
  • Facilities
  • Professional credentials
  • Reputation
  • Reference checks
   
   
Respond to Solicitation: Preparing Bids and Proposals
 
Once you’ve identified a bid or contract to respond to, the next step is acquiring the bid package. Most of the time, this information is downloadable as a Word or Adobe document. Depending on government agencies, sometimes you will need to contact the purchasing office at the government agency for the solicitation document.

There are two types of offers: - bids and proposals. Bids are used in sealed bidding purchases, while proposals involve awards to be made following negotiation.

Bids and proposals always should be prepared with utmost care. Contracts awarded on erroneous offers may result in serious financial loss or other difficulty for the bidder. Before preparing an offer, close study should be made of the specifications to be sure that all requirements can be met. Particular attention should be given to the instructions to bidders and to conditions of purchase, delivery and payment.

When preparing a proposal on a negotiated procurement, the same care should be taken as with a sealed bid. However, because the negotiated purchase procedure is more flexible than the sealed bid procedure, there is greater opportunity to seek modification of specifications, conditions of purchase, or delivery and payment.

If the contracting officer decides to negotiate on a firm's proposal, a complete cost analysis may be required. Therefore, the firm should be prepared to support the quotation with facts and figures.

   
   
Elements of a Proposal
   
 
  • An Executive Summary which tells the evaluators why they should choose your company for the contract.
  • Explain to the Government how your company is going to accomplish the requested work.
  • Complete and signed all paperwork correctly. Errors could result in your proposal being rejected by the government contracting office.
  • A list of resume and qualifications and responsibilities of the key personnel and subcontractors named in the proposal.
  • Address the major topics in the request for proposal (RFP) in the same sequence as requested.
  • Ensure that the charts and graphs included in the proposal are relevant and should be used as exhibits whenever possible.
  • Provide a safety plan if you are preparing a proposal that requires the use of machinery, chemicals, or equipment that could conceivably cause injury.
   
   
Track Proposal or Bid
 
It is important to track your bid after it has been submitted. Once the agency has collected all the bids they begin evaluating each one and will ultimately decide on one particular business for which to award the contract. Sometimes the government may want to do a pre-award survey. This means you must be able to present to them that your company is able to successfully accomplish everything you’ve submitted in your proposal. Once the award is finally made, the name of the successful bidder and the contract price become public information. This information can be critical to your company whether you win the bid or not. Do not be quick to dismiss this! After the bid is awarded the winning bid is opened and information is recorded onto what is called the “bid abstract? Information supplied in the bid abstract can include items such as; the winning company, the winning price, and any other information the bidding officer deems important. You should document this information as it could prove to be vital information in the future.

And finally Quality Assurance is a critical part of doing business with the government. How can you prove that your product/service will be up to the quality the buyer requests, assuming you are being considered for the bid, or after you have already been awarded the bid? You need to have a Quality Assurance (QA) program already in place, and it must also be well documented to show your buyer. Your assurance program must be organized to properly evaluate the product. This may include recorded/written tests, inspections, or other necessary assessments to be able to verify the quality of your product.
 

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