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Monday, January 13, 2020

Five Winning Strategies For Small Business Federal Government Contractors


Image: thehumanfactor.biz


INTRODUCTION:

Acquisition officials are speeding up the acquisition process, issuing necessary requests for proposals to companies and executing contract awards quicker.  Marketing must be focused and fine-tuned. 

The sooner the government can receive the feedback from the draft RFP, the more likely it is that the service acquisition teams can adapt the programs to industry and economic realities.
The Defense Department issued updates to mid-tier and urgent acquisition policies that allow the military to quickly develop prototypes and field systems. The policies took effect in the last days of 2019.

Department Of Defense Updates Mid-Tier And Urgent Acquisition Policies

This article will address strategic planning tips for the small enterprise in planning for the future, given the above realities.

STRATEGIES

1. Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Funds Are a Solid Bet for Service Contractors

Operation and Maintenance (O&M) appropriations are used to finance expenses not related to military personnel or Research, Development Test and Engineering (RDT&E). Types of expenses funded by O&M appropriations include: DoD civilian salaries, supplies and materials, maintenance of equipment, certain equipment items, real property maintenance, rental of equipment and facilities, food, clothing, and fuel. 

O&M funds are more easily justified in appropriations for "Keeping the Lights On" functions and often do not expire at the end of the government fiscal year.  If you are a service contractor target programs with (O&M) funding.  Look for service contracts being considered as set asides for small business on an O&M basis, sharpen your pencil and your best value marketing approach and chase them as a prime contractor or with a highly competitive industry team that needs your contribution to succeed.

2. Sharpen your Marketing Activities in Targeted Agencies and with Industry Teams to Get In Early on Agency Requirements.

Pre-solicitations are alerts to industry, attempts to gauge industry interest or a way of "Kicking the Can Down the Road" until funding becomes available.  These notices are an indirect way of saying, "Come Visit Me and tell me about your company", or “Send Me your capabilities statement (CAPE)”. The full formal notification will come out at a time to be determined by when the agency gets the funding and how much interest there is in the contractor community. A schedule for when the formal bid notice will occur is rarely posted.

Please read the following article carefully for further guidance:


3.  If Your Firm has Small Business Designations, Focus Agency Personnel on Making Their Programs Set asides for Your Designation (Small, Veteran-Owned, Woman-Owned, Minority Owned, Etc.)

Pay particular attention to System for Award Management (SAM) Contract Opportunities "Sources Sought" or “Requests for draft RFP Comment” on programs that have yet to be formally solicited. Obtain an appointment to present your capabilities to the decision makers (not the gate keepers). 

Be courteous to contracting officers but understand they are not the individuals who make source selections. Understand that once the requirement is formally published on SAM the gate closes on informal visits to the customer and the competition begins in the form of proposals by competitors.  It is too late at that point to set the program aside for a sole source or a small business designation if it has not occurred by the publication stage.

4.  Fine Tune Your Marketing Sensitivities to WHAT Agencies are Buying and HOW they are Buying Supplies and Services

You must determine what those needs are through market research, trade magazines, research on what they are buying on SAM as well as postings on their web site that are future-program oriented.

Subscribe to periodicals like "Washington Technology" and other trade magazines.  Observe agency trends and analysis that impact your market segment.  There have been set aside programs marketed by small companies through acquainting agency management and technical personnel with capabilities they were not aware existed in the small business community or fulfillment of needs they in fact did not know they had.

5. Teaming Is Critical in a Shrinking Base of Government Programs

Federal agencies will continue their natural penchant to bundle requirements to get the most out of their management dollar.  However, the bundles will become fewer and more competitive. Position your company with the best possible industry partners in view of the changing budget scene.

Synergism is paramount in teaming with any size company, whether in a lead or subcontracting role. There should be technical, management and market segment similarities between you and any company with whom you are considering teaming. Your prospective team member ideally will not be a direct competitor; rather a business in a related field with whom you share a mutual need for each other's contributions in pursuing large-scale projects.

Relationships must be developed with primes and other small businesses that can help you, team with you and keep you in mind as they search for success. That takes time, patience and open-minded, out of the box thinking. It also takes more than a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), a teaming agreement (TA) and a proposal to succeed. It takes dynamic marketing and communication with strong partners and hard, innovative work. Nice buzz words you say - but it is the truth and you have to find what that truth means to you.


SUMMARY:

Success in the current small business government contracting environment will come through careful market research, focus on funding types that are sustainable appropriations, zeroing in on decision makers early with set-aside marketing techniques and teaming with strong industry partners. 



Sunday, January 12, 2020

SBA Woman-Owned Small Business Program

Image:  SBA
On October 7, 2010, the U.S. Small Business Administration published a final rule effective February 4, 2011, aimed at expanding federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs)

The Final Rule sets forth procedures authorized by the Small Business Act to help ensure a level playing field on which WOSBs can compete for Federal contracting opportunities, while helping achieve the existing statutory goal that 5 percent of Federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small businesses. Some of the components of the Women-Owned Small Business Program include:

To be eligible, a firm must be 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be U.S. citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry. In order for a WOSB to be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the final rule.

Based upon the analysis in a study commissioned by the SBA from the Kauffman-RAND Foundation (referred to as the Rand Report), the proposed rule identifies 83 industries (identified by 4 digit North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS, codes) in which women-owned small businesses are under-represented or substantially under-represented. The Rand Report is available to the public at:


In accordance with the statute, the Final Rule authorizes a set-aside of Federal contracts for WOSBs or economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) where the anticipated contract price does not exceed $5 million in the case of manufacturing contracts and $3 million in the case of other contracts, if certain other conditions are met.

The Final Rule removes the requirement, set forth in a prior proposed version, that each Federal agency certify that it had engaged in discrimination against women-owned small businesses in order for the program to apply to contracting by that agency.

The Final Rule allows WOSBs or EDWOSBs to self-certify their status or to be certified by third-party certifiers, including government entities and private certification groups.
The Final Rule allows SBA to engage in program examinations to confirm eligibility of individual WOSBs or EDWOSBs.

Please see the following link for further details on qualifying for and and entering the program:

Sunday, January 5, 2020

What to Expect from Government Small Business Contracting Pre-Award Surveys and Fact Finding



INTRODUCTION

When a government contracting specific market target has been identified and a proposal has been submitted, pre-award surveys and fact finding by the buying agency or the prime contractor often follow. These processes take two forms:

1. A survey visit to the small company facility

2. Inquiries with respect to supplementary details for enhancing the customer perspective on a proposal submittal.

Undertaking the above processes with a government agency differs from that of undergoing them with a prime contractor. You are not required to disclose proprietary data to a prime contractor. Please see the following articles for further information in this vital area:


http://www.smalltofeds.com/2008/09/protecting-intellectual-property-and.html

This article will discuss each of the above processes and suggest measures to prepare for, conduct and succeed at pre-award surveys and fact finding.

PRE-AWARD SURVEY


A pre-award survey is a government or prime contractor visit to a supplier's facility. The Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO) or the Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) and the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) as well as members of their respective staffs may attend.

In some instances the local Defense Contract Management Area Office (DCMAO) is involved. As you become a regular supplier to an agency, site survey visits will normally cease or occur only rarely.


For further explanation of the above government officials and their roles, please see the following article:


http://www.smalltofeds.com/2007/06/federal-government-contracting-customer.html

The site survey team is interested in establishing the physical presence of a new supplier, the technical capability and the human resources to perform the prospective work and the quality of the environment in which the effort will be performed. A "Pre-award Survey of Prospective Contractor" Forms are completed and become part of the contract file:

Pre-award Survey Forms


Pre-Award Survey of Prospective Contractor SF-1403 8/1997

Pre-Award Survey of Prospective Contractor (Accounting System) SF-1408 8/1997
Pre-Award Survey of Prospective Contractor (Financial Capability) SF-1407 8/1997
Pre-Award Survey of Prospective Contractor (Production) SF-1405 8/1997
Pre-Award Survey of Prospective Contractor (Quality Assurance) SF-1406 8/1997
Pre-Award Survey of Prospective Contractor (Technical) SF-1404 8/1997

Select the person who will lead the meeting with the government survey team. This person should be empowered to speak for the company and should be completely familiar with details of the solicitation and your company's offer.

If relevant, make available one or more technicians to answer questions. Identify any disparities that may exist between the solicitation and your company's offer that should be resolved during the initial meeting with the survey team. Think about how you can demonstrate actual technical capability or the development of technical capability on the proposed contract. Make sure your facilities and equipment are available and operable. If they are not, be prepared to demonstrate that they can be developed or acquired in time to meet proposed contract requirements.


Make sure that your labor resources have the proper skills or that personnel with the needed skills can be hired expeditiously. Gather and make available to the survey team documentation, such as previous government contracts or subcontracts or commercial orders, to demonstrate a past satisfactory performance record with regard to delivery, quality and finances. Gather financial documentation for the team financial analyst, including the company's current profit and loss summary, balance sheet, cash flow chart and other pertinent financial information. Make sure the plans are in place for vendor supplies and materials or subcontracts to assure that the final delivery schedule can be met. Make sure that these plans are verifiable.


Review any technical data and publications that may be required under the proposed contract and make sure you understand them. If the contract is a type other than a firm-fixed price or if you have requested progress payments, prepare adequate accounting documentation for review. Review your quality control program and make sure that it is workable and consistent with the quality requirements stated in the contract.

PROPOSAL FACT FINDING

Fact-finding usually involves the government requesting additional information to supplement that which was submitted by you in your proposal. These areas of interest are early indications of where the negotiator is looking for weaknesses in your cost justifications or disconnects between your technical approach and the cost you are estimating to do the job. If you have subcontractors or major material suppliers, the government may ask for copies of your vendor proposal evaluations. The government may wish to examine cost history for the last time you performed similar efforts.

Keep in mind that most government agencies put together an independent cost estimate of what they feel the item or service should cost. These are commonly called "Should Cost Estimates". The additional requests for information during fact finding are feeding the should cost estimate. The Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO ) typically has an end user for the product or service internal to his organization who will become the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR) when the contract is awarded.


The COTR has a strong influence on the negotiations and will usually be present when negotiations commence. On many occasions, the COTR is the real internal customer at the agency. He has fiscal, technical and schedule responsibilities to his management for the program you are servicing. He simply cannot sign for the government.


The PCO has the agency warrant to commit the government and knows the most about public law and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) as it is applied to contracts the agency undertakes. It is the COTR who is likely feeding the PCO requests for fact-finding data. Keep in mind that the COTR and the PCO are formulating their assessment of the cost and the risk associated with the program during the fact-finding process. Cost is the first item of negotiation and risk has a direct influence on the government's position on profit.


The contacting officer may order a Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) audit. The Request for Proposal (RFP) to which you responded may in fact have ordered a copy of your proposal be submitted to the DCAA Office nearest your location. If you are a new supplier to the government, DCAA may ask for a copy of your long-range plan containing your direct and indirect rate structure. They will verify the rates utilized in your proposal against your LRP, evaluate escalation factors utilized for long term projects and check the math. For guidance on these matters, please see the following article:


http://www.smalltofeds.com/2008/02/dcaa-audits-and-small-business-job-cost.html

The auditor will ask for copies of major material and travel quotations and insure that government per diem rates are utilized for lodging and meals in the cost proposal. DCAA may also visit your facility to check compliance with Cost Accounting Standards insuring that the company sets up each new government contract on job cost accounting in the identical manner in which it was proposed; in effect identifying direct labor, direct material and other direct costs to each contract monthly and allocating overhead and G&A utilizing the same numerator and denominator relationships upon which the contract was originally estimated.

DCAA is paid by the PCO to perform the audit. The audit does not extend to negotiations and at the audit conclusion the auditor files a report with the PCO. The report will contain information on any errors uncovered and findings on the adequacy of the accounting and long range planning systems. DCAA will not express an opinion on the cost content of the proposal in terms of a value judgment regarding prices for prospective supplies and services. If the auditor does not offer an exit interview, ask for one. Better yet, ask for a copy of the audit report to the PCO. Many DCAA offices will provide a copy to audited contractors. DCAA does not have the authority to direct a proposal revision based on audit findings. An astute contractor will immediately correct any errors found by the auditor in the proposal and examine other audit findings in preparation for negotiations.


SUMMARY

With adequate preparation and an understanding of what the processes involve, the small enterprise can succeed in passing government agency or prime contractor site surveys and fact finding.

Remember that these encounters are extensions of your image as presented in your proposal. They are building block in nature and serve to establish, reinforce or change a customer’s view of your company and your proposal.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Marketing A Small Business In The Federal Government Contracting Environment



By Ken Larson

IINTRODUCTION

You have positioned your existing or start-up company for doing business with the federal government. You have registered your enterprise at the System for Award Management to include determination of your North American Industrial Classification (NAICS) Codes, applied for Small Business Set Aside Designations , if applicable, researched your HUB Zone status HUB Zone Information and developed a Capability Statement for marketing purposes.

You are embarking on the utilization of SAMContract Opportunities, the gateway for federal government agencies advertising prospective contracts on the Web. 

Now is the time to think through your marketing strategy and the various venues for contracting with the federal government. This article will discuss these venues and the opportunities they offer your small business.

II. WHAT TYPE OF SMALL BUSINESS ARE YOU?

A. Commercial Contracting Under FAR Part 12

Are you planning to market an existing commercial product which has been on the market, such as software, hardware, a commodity, a report, a conference, a survey or a study, sell it to meet a government specification or statement of work and bill for the end product when delivered? 

If the answer to this question is "Yes", you may be able to do business under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 12, "Commercial Contracting", which is a simplified and fast form of selling to the federal government. 

The vast majority of purchases by the federal government in this category are Firm Fixed Price (FFP) with a product warranty of some type. You may be able to sell under FAR Part 12 if your product meets the definition of commercial items specified by the government.

B. Non-Commercial Contracting

Are you planning to market your services at an hourly rate, sell them by labor categories with professional job descriptions to perform the government statement of work and bill by the hour for labor and at cost for material and travel? 

Or is your product or service a development effort or not readily available to customers in the commercial marketplace. If you fall into this category for either reason it is unlikely you will be contracting under FAR Part 12 and you will be pursuing long term government contracts. 

If the above apply, much of the remainder of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) will apply to you, together with the various contract types other than FFP which are used for efforts where the contractor and the government may share the business risk in development, implementation or production of a new product, system or service.

C. Commercial and Non-Commercial Contracting

You may decide to market under both (A) and (B) above. Some small businesses sell their product commercially, but contract for product implementation and support on a service contract basis.

If you are selling under (A) and (B) or just (B) above you should examine this web site further to obtain sufficient detail to develop your business system in estimating, proposing, accounting and billing the government for contracts not qualifying under FAR Part 12.

III. YOUR CUSTOMER

Although all requirements in the federal government market emanate from the US Agencies there are several ways for meeting these requirements with a business arrangement that suits your small business.

A. U.S. Government Agency As a Customer

There are over many agencies or "Departments" in the Federal Government. Each of these agencies has a statutory obligation to contract from small business for 23% of everything it buys. Contracting officers must file reports annually demonstrating they have fulfilled this requirement. Not fulfilling the requirement can put the agency annual funding in jeopardy. You have a motivated customer in federal government contracting officers and buyers.

As a prime contractor to one of these agencies your small business proposes, negotiates and contracts directly with a federal government contracting officer. You may or may not have subcontractors or suppliers. 

A subcontractor is a teaming partner who agrees to accept a portion of the effort under your prime contract and abide by the prime contract terms and conditions flowed down to him from you. On competitive procurements the business arrangement is usually mutually exclusive on the part of the subcontractor and your company. 

A supplier is a purchased finished vendor or off the shelf retailer who sells you items or components necessary to produce your product but does not accept the flow-down provisions of your prime contract other than the most general terms and conditions such as US Public Law , EEO, Tax Provisions, Warranty and the like. Supplier relationships are not usually mutually exclusive arrangements.

You may be able to fulfill the entire prime contract scope of work or meet the product specification from within your company. However, major government procurements are increasingly geared to teaming arrangements involving a prime and several subcontractors. As the prime on such a procurement you normally have the lead share of the work scope, you have a product critical to the program, you know the customer the best or a combination of these factors. Your subcontractor team members are usually not your direct competitors but are involved in lines of work that complement your business and enable the team to fulfill a scope that is larger than any single member could undertake alone Your direct competition is most likely forming similar teaming arrangements in an attempt to win the larger jobs which can span a number of years in duration and mean good, solid cash flow for all participants.

A General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule is a pre-qualifying way to obtain business directly from all federal government agencies. The GSA performs the service of negotiating with you for multi-year pricing of labor, products and equipment, together with pre-established terms and conditions. Your schedule and terms are posted to the GSA Web Site and all federal agency buyers can expeditiously buy from your schedule. A GSA Schedule is normally set up for 5 years. Achieving and Utilizing a GSA Schedule

The GSA also sponsors and manages major Indefinate Delivery/Indefinate Quantity (IDIQ) procurements such as "Alliant" and "Alliant Small Business" for Information Technology. These contract vehicles pre-position large and small contractors and teams of contractors to accept competitive delivery orders under established terms and conditions and standardized solution s for technological areas in high demand across the federal government. An IDIQ procurement can span a period as long as 10 years.

B. A Government Prime Contractor As A Customer

Government Prime contractors who are large businesses (roughly defined by the SBA and the banking community as having over 500 employees and annual sales in excess of $20M) and who hold federal government contracts have the same requirement as government agencies to buy at least 23% of the supplies and services in support of those contracts from small business.

Large business, under federal procurement law, must prepare and submit annual "Small Business Contracting Plans" for approval by the local Defense Contract Management Area Office (DCMAO) nearest their headquarters. These plans must include auditable statistics regarding the previous 12 month period in terms of contracting to small businesses and the goals forecast for the next year. The federal government can legally terminate a contract in a large business for not meeting small business contracting goals. Approved small business plans must accompany large business contract proposals submitted to federal government agencies. You have a motivated customer in large business subcontract managers, administrators and buyers. A small business who becomes a prime contractor does not have to meet the annual small business contracting plan requirement until it becomes a large business.

In selling to a prime contractor you propose, negotiate and subcontract with a company who holds a contract with a US government agency and in turn flows down its provisions to you. Or you sell under purchase orders on a commercial basis (FAR Part 12) to another company who holds a federal government contract.

C. Selling Via a Joint Venture

There are occasions when two companies wish to combine their respective products or resources and form a separate entity to undertake a contract, usually a prime contract with the federal government. The marketing considerations for such a venture involve impressing the client with the resources being dedicated to the program or addressing government concerns about broadening the technology and assuring redundant capability in the industrial community. A joint venture consists of human and other resources from the participating companies. However, it stands alone as a legal entity. Joint venture agreements are difficult to craft. Protecting proprietary information, together with intellectual property is especially demanding. Dividing the contractual effort and ultimately integrating it into a final product or service is also a challenge. Complicating the scenario is the fact that the US Government reserves the right to approve joint venture agreements before a contract can be issued to the entity. One company usually assumes the lead role in the joint venture. Some joint ventures hire a joint venture administrator who is the only legal entity authorized to sign a binding document on behalf of the two companies once it has been approved by each firm through a joint venture board, with equal representation by both organizations. Administration, accounting and billing at the joint venture level is a third tier of administrative cost which must be born by both companies.

Your customer in the federal market is either the government itself or a prime contractor. You will sell as a prime contractor, as a commercial supplier or as a subcontractor and on occasion you may have the need to establish a joint venture with another firm.

IV. MARKETING AVENUES

A. Small Business Certifications

Your small business designation at your SAM registration places you in the small business set-aside market for 23% of the total goods and services the federal government buys. Within small business, there are additional self-certifications and SBA certifications to which you can apply if you qualify.small business designations 

Self-certification occurs when you respond to government requests for proposals, cite you registration number and state in your proposal certifications and representations that you are a Small Business and whether or not you have set-aside designations.

Procurement contracting officers and prime contractors are responsible for verifying self-certifications. Owners claiming designations must have a major equity share in the business and must be involved in running the business operations.

The SBA certifies Small, Disadvantaged Businesses under their "8(a) Program". The application for this certification is available at the SBA Web Site for businesses who qualify by virtue of minority ownership and minority involvement in running the business operations. The SBA reviews, approves and grants 8(a) Certifications to small minority-owned businesses. Please see the following link:

Federal agencies and prime contractors are required to set goals and contract to achieve annual objectives for each of the above certifications within the overall 23% small business contracting mandate required by statute. Procurements are regularly "set-aside" for these designations to achieve government and prime contractor annual objectives. Procurements are also set-aside for small business in general, which includes companies who may not qualify for the additional small business certifications discussed above.

B. Capability Statement

With your small business SAM registration and additional certifications, you are ready to develop your capability statement. This document will be a promotional brochure which on paper and through the electronic media advertises who you are, what your do and why the government or prime contractors should buy from you. Major elements of your capability statement in addition to your small business designation and certifications are as follows:

(1) Company overview

(2) Supplies and services description couched utilizing your marketing ideas and strategy.

(3) Past performance of your enterprise or your personal background and qualifications (experience, education, etc.)

(4) Facilities or capabilities overview (How you perform your service couched in a manner that will appeal to your target market)

(5) Explanation of the positive results the client should expect.

(6) Points of contact and ways to contact you for meetings, placing an order and contracting your services.

Your capability statement can be distributed on paper to your target market as a brochure, emailed as an attachment and linked into related industry web sites or partner web sites to get the word out about your product or service. The capability statement targets contracting officers and prime contractor buyers who are seeking to fulfill their small business buying goals. It is a way to get you in the door and speak to or correspond with the management and technical personnel who are the decision makers in sourcing small business buys.

C. Self-Marketing for SBA 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB)'s and Historically Under-Utilized Business (HUB) Zone Contractors

If you qualify for a SDB Certification or can attest that you are located in a HUB Zone, these items can be valuable marketing tools. Presenting your capability statement to a prospective federal customer and meeting the management, technical and procurement decision makers puts you in a position to self market projects. All federal agencies and large business contracting to the federal government have to meet SDB and HUB Zone annual buying objectives. They have processes for competitive procurements. The processes are generally lengthy to comply with regulations governing solicitation on the open market, request for proposals, source selection, negotiation and award.

Under the 8(a) SDB Program and the HUB Zone Program if you can assist a federal agency or large business in identifying a product or service they need and that you are a qualified source to fill that need then the your customer can buy it directly from you and bypass the competitive process entirely. The key to achieving this type of targeted marketing is to contact and/or visit your customer regularly and get in front of the solicitation process. Once a project has gone to the "Sources Sought" or "Solicitation" stage you can still convince the customer to set it aside for 8(a) or HUB Zone firms, but you will be competing with other SDB's or HUB Zone contractors in your NAIC's Code for the business. The "Early Bird Gets the Worm", adage is useful for SDB and HUB Zone organizations. Some buying agencies even permit an 8(a) SDB or HUB Zone Contractor to assist in writing the product or performance specification for a project to expedite the process. Federal agencies and large businesses are motivated to use the non-compete, set-aside features of the 8(a) SDB and HUB Zone Programs. Doing so permits them to meet their small business procurement goals and enables a swift buying action of a product or service for which they may have a critical need. 

D. GSA Schedules and Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts

The General Services Administration (GSA) pre-qualifies contractors with a terms and conditions package and negotiated rates for products or services. Your GSA schedule is then posted to the web at:

This site is searchable by all government agencies who want to buy products and services. A GSA schedule allows you to offer a pre-existing contract vehicle with established pricing to any federal government agency or prime contractor. This shortens the procurement process considerably. In some procurements, a GSA Schedule is necessary to qualify for bidding certain jobs. You can read more about applying for a GSA Schedule by going to the General Services Administration Web Site at:  GSA Web Site

Under Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts, terms and conditions and labor hour pricing are agreed upon in advance with an agency for a period of time (usually a multi-year arrangement). Many large government agencies contract utilizing IDIQ contract vehicles and often make multiple awards to several companies who then compete for work on a delivery order basis thereafter. 

The GSA also manages large scale IDIQ procurements in high technology areas such as Information Technology (IT).  Individual agencies then compete and procure IT products and services against the standard with established terms and conditions and known pricing. Once qualified, winning in this type of environment is simplified to submitting the best technical solution to a given delivery order with the lowest man-hours or product pricing. It is not uncommon for competitors to offer discounts during the competition.

Under both GSA Schedules and IDIQ Contracts individual delivery orders are negotiated separately regarding the labor hours, material and travel cost necessary to complete a discrete scope of work.

E. Teaming

Because the federal government buys on such a large scale and in many acquisitions chooses to package related technologies or services, it is a necessary part of your marketing plan to consider teaming with other companies. As discussed in paragraphs II. and III., above, large businesses who are in the same line of work as you are have a requirement to subcontract to small businesses under federal government contracts. In addition, large and small companies who are in related or synergistic businesses to yours actively seek partners in the federal government market to permit access to larger packaged procurements.

Attend trade conferences, join trade organizations, get into technical blogs on the web. All large businesses contracting with the government have a small business liaison officer which you can locate at the company web site. Present your capability statement electronically or preferably in person to local large businesses engaged in federal government contracts who may need your services.

Many large businesses are willing to team as a subcontractor to a small business to get access to the small business set-aside market. A large business cannot receive an amount in excess of 50% of the dollar award of a small business set-aside, but many large businesses are willing to subcontract to multiple small businesses on federal government contracts to broaden their business base.

For SDB companies, the "Mentor - Protege' Program is available. This is a federally sponsored program whereby a large business sponsors a smaller business through active teaming and mentoring. Your can learn more about this program at:

The best way to approach a large business or another synergistic small business is to have a program target as a discussion vehicle. If you find a project for which you need a partner or partners, carefully research the firms you are considering, check their D&B's, see if they have entered their company in the "Interested Parties" frame of the solicitation at FEDBIZOPS.
When teaming with another company, most arrangements become mutually exclusive if you are subcontracting to one another and not just supplying off the shelf products. As the business relationship evolves and you begin sharing information a two way Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is usually necessary to protect proprietary information.

As the business relationship matures and the parties agree to become exclusive, a teaming agreement is also necessary. At this point you have agreed upon who will be the eventual prime contractor and who will be the subcontractor. The areas regarding work share and proposal preparation are particularly critical in terms of thorough definition to avoid future misunderstandings among the parties. If and when the prime contract is awarded, the teaming agreement is replaced by a subcontract from the prime party to the subcontracting team member.

F. Small Business Innovative Research Program

Other federally sponsored programs are the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs for high technology small business. These are competitive programs awarding small business fundng in critical high technology areas. Your can learn more about the SBIR/STTR Programs by going to:

V. SUMMARY:

This article has offered a template of avenues for small business federal government contract marketing. You should apply the template to your business plan and explore which avenues suit your enterprise. The federal government contract customer is motivated to buy from you. Your marketing task is to target and find your customer considering the supplies and services you sell. The federal government offers competitive advantages to various types of small business, depending on ownership and size. Federal government contracts offer small purchases and long term contractual arrangements from firm fixed price purchases to cost type and time and material contracts.  The opportunities are there for small business entrepreneurs’ to pursue.