Federal, state and municipal governments regularly publish RFPs to source and purchase a vast array of goods and services every year, which are then fulfilled by companies submitting city, county and federal contract bids using a bid service. If you have a quality product or service to offer, chances are that there are currently open government contracts that require what you are selling.
Even seemingly unorthodox goods may be of use to a government agency or department. For example, if you have a towing company, garage, or junkyard, your company may bid on contracts to provide government agencies with scrap vehicles to use in practice during various types of training, including life-saving exercises for land or marine-based emergency services. Local government bids are especially recommended for small businesses, as a set amount of funding for government contracts is always reserved for regional businesses and small contractors.
Are there many potential customers and RFPs available?
The three levels of government spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year to maintain and upgrade essential services, purchase bulk orders of goods to furnish to internal departments, and invest in research and development projects of all kinds. All of these requisitions are fulfilled by publishing RFPs, which in turn generate municipal and county bids from local suppliers on government contracts.
Other potential customers include state and municipal governments, special purpose districts including school districts, utility providers, and transportation authorities, as well as health care providers, law enforcement agencies and military procurement departments. The contracts made available by these agencies are most easily accessed by registering your business with a well-known bid service.
Are there opportunities for small businesses?
Small companies have the opportunity to bid on RFPs of all sizes published by governments and agencies such as the ones listed above. The federal government is required to reserve all federal purchases between $2,500 and $100,000 for small businesses — usually attracting city and county bids - with the exception being any case when two or more small businesses send bids that are competitive on price, quality and delivery. Usually, department managers administering government contracts will choose the provider that delivers the most value for the lowest price, although some contracts are awarded to a sole source provider in the case that special requirements must be met.
Criteria to meet before submitting bids
All levels of government look for strong, established businesses that have been operating for at least two years when considering bid proposals. Companies without a positive cash flow are at a disadvantage when it comes to winning RFPs.
What are the next steps?
1. Get started by selecting your company’s NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System code). This code is the standard by which the federal government classifies businesses by specific industry. This code is necessary to be considered for relevant government contracts.
2. Based on your company’s NAICS code, determine what your size standard is using the size standard tool on the SBA’s website.
3. Register for a free DUNS number with Dun & Bradstreet. The DUNS number is a nine-digit code that helps to track the global operations of businesses. Dun & Bradstreet assigns DUNS numbers for every physical location of a business, which is especially useful for submitting local government bids for regional contracts.
4. Register your business in the Central Contractor Registration database. Government agencies look to this database when seeking small businesses to fulfill contract requirements.
5. Sign your company up with FedBizOpps to receive notices of contract solicitations, RFPs and requests for information. Company owners using a bid service are able to customize the notices they want to receive, so that they will be notified only about contracts that their company is interested in bidding on.
6. Contact your local Procurement Technical Assistant Center (PTAC) to get help with acquiring government contracting opportunities and maintaining the proper requirements to be eligible to bid on local, state and federal RFPs.