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  • What You Need to Know About Government Contracting

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    In-Depth

    How to Find Government Contracts

    To find current government contracts, both those awarded directly through governments as well as subcontracting opportunities, the Web is a tremendous resource. Frequently, applications have a fairly brief timeline, so you may need to act fast if you turn up a posting that seems tailor-made for your business. Some posted bids come with deadlines as short as a month.

    If you’re new to this entire process, don’t expect to be able to pounce on a promising-looking federal contract opportunity if you haven’t done all the requisite registration paperwork. That will probably take more time to perform than a contract’s submission deadline allows. But acquainting yourself with current contracts out for bid can give you a realistic picture of the territory ahead.

    Federal contracting registration requirements are covered in the next section. You’ll want to have a lot of boilerplate information about your company ready to use when you submit bids so you won’t get too bogged down in paperwork for every one you make.

    Enlisting Help
    You also may want to think about partnering on a bid with another company. For example, if you come across a contract opportunity that would be a good fit for your business with the exception of some requirements, can you think of another business that you could subcontract that work to? Many times, small businesses need to think creatively—and act opportunistically—particularly when they’re going after that first contract.

    Finally, in your search for contracting opportunities, don’t forget your network. If you’re looking to make government work a key part of your business, ask around to see if you can be introduced to someone who has experience in these contracts and knows the ropes. Even a few pointers on how to narrow your search could point you in fruitful (and efficient) directions as you go about conducting Web searches.

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    Game Plan

    Here are some key Web resources for government contracting opportunities:

    • The Federal Business Opportunities website. All federal government requests for bids above $25,000 are (theoretically) listed here.
    • For state and local contracts, the Government Contract & Bid website lists many opportunities. This site also makes search engines available that can help you find potential teaming partners.
    • The Supplier Connection is an initiative launched to help grow small businesses and U.S. jobs. It helps connect small businesses with large companies looking to include business partners’ products and services in their supply chain. Once you register on the site, you can find contracting opportunities, both in fulfilling Fortune 500 companies’ government contracts as well as those in the commercial sector.
    • If you’re in the market for subcontracts, here’s another resource: SUB-Net. On this site, prime contractors post their projects and detail the kinds of subcontractor and supplier quotes they’re soliciting.
    • The SBA maintains the Subcontracting Opportunities Directory for those businesses interested in subcontracting. It publishes the names and addresses of companies that have received federal contracts of over $650,000.