The federal government offers many ways for small business to sell their products and services to federal customers.
The most common way for a small business to learn government contracting is to work as a subcontractor for a company currently selling to the government. But how to find these companies? And how can you tell if they will be open to working with small businesses?
Begin by reviewing the GSA subcontracting directory, a list of government contractors who are actively looking for subcontractors. Large business prime contractors receiving federal contracts valued at over $650,000 ($1.5 million for construction), are required to establish plans and goals for subcontracting with small business firms. This directory lists GSA contractors with subcontracting plans and goals, such as what percentage of their work they would like to assign to small businesses, as well as the types of small businesses they are targeting (for example: small disadvantaged, woman-owned, veteran owned, etc.).
Research is key. Another tool, the GSA Forecast of Contracting Opportunities, informs vendors of anticipated contracts offered by GSA for the current fiscal year (October through September). These forecasted procurements include all acquisitions at or above the $25,000 threshold anticipated to be awarded to both small and other than small businesses. This forecast gives small businesses a glimpse into GSA’s upcoming acquisition goals and plans, as well as a list of contacts to reach out to.
More seasoned small businesses already on GSA Acquisition Schedules can use this vehicle to sell directly to the government. Along with Schedules, small businesses may also seek out vehicles such as indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts where vendors provide for an indefinite quantity of services during a fixed period of time.
They may also sell through a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) under any GSA Schedule contract. A BPA is an ongoing agreement for repetitive orders with selected contractors.
Because GSA serves as the federal landlord, it offers a wide array of contracting opportunities for small businesses. To research the possibilities, visit the IDIQ page which lists building- and construction-related IDIQs. For a broad overview of GSA's real estate and construction purchasing, review PBS (Public Buildings Service) Intelligence on GSA.gov.