Navigating the government contracting landscape can be confusing and challenging to aspiring contractors and even existing government contractors. The learning curve in this industry is pretty steep, and it can leave anyone feeling lost and frustrated.
To address this, we have answered some of the industry’s frequently asked questions about federal government contracts to point you towards the starting line.
1. Are government contracts profitable?
The federal contracting industry offers attractive opportunities to grow your enterprise, whether you run a large corporation or manage a small business.
The United States Government is one of the biggest spenders in the whole country. In fact, the federal government is consistently increasing its budget for federal contractors amidst the devastating effects of COVID-19. In 2020, for example, the government awarded $682 billion worth of government contracts, which is a significant jump from 2019’s $599 billion total dollars spent for contracts.
But not only that! The Small Business Administration (SBA), the official government organization that promotes and protects small businesses, has teamed up with the United States government to increase federal spending for small business contractors. In 2020, the SBA posted a record-high $145.7 billion worth of federal contracts awarded to small businesses.
2. What are examples of government contracts?
There are different types of government contracts available in the federal marketplace. Each type of federal contract varies to accommodate the complexity of the requirement, the nature of the project, and other factors. We have a comprehensive list of common government contracts for small businesses and large enterprises. Here are the essential points for every type of federal contract you should know:
A Fixed-Price Contract is a federal contract where the government already sets a fixed budget for a project. A fixed-price contract is suitable for projects with a clear scope of work and responsibilities.
With this type of government contract, the contractor will initially fund the project, and then the federal agency will reimburse them. The government sets a ceiling amount that the government will reimburse.
Time and Materials Contract
When the project is too complex for the government to determine the number of people and materials needed accurately, they award this type of contract to a trusted government contractor. The government rarely awards a Time and Materials Contract since it puts the government at greater financial risk.
Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity Contract
An IDIQ contract is awarded when the government needs an unspecified amount of products or services within a fixed timeline.
Small Business Set-Aside Contract
The government sets aside exclusive contracts for small entrepreneurs to bid on to level the playing field for small businesses. Contracts falling within the $3500 – $150,000 range are automatically considered set-aside contracts.
3. Are government contracts public records?
Yes. According to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the public reserves the right to request records from a federal agency, including government contracts. Since the resources used to fund government contracts are from the taxpayers’ money, the public reserves the right to know how their taxes are used—with a few exceptions, of course.
However, this fact may cause unease among business owners. Since government contracts are public records, does this mean that your sensitive information is available to the public, too? No. Under the FOIA Exemption No. 4, your confidential trade secrets, commercial, and financial details will not be disclosed by the government to the public.
4. How do I find awarded government contracts?
The United States Government values transparency. You can review the federal government’s spending history details at USASpending.gov.
If you are also interested in seeing the federal marketplace trend, you can also use the GSA’s Forecast of Contracting Opportunities tool.
5. Where can I find government contracts online?
There is an abundance of federal government websites where federal agencies publish federal government contracting opportunities for contractors and even subcontractors.
- SAM.gov – The System for Award Management (SAM) is the official federal government site where you can scout for contracting opportunities. Federal agencies use SAM to publish pre-solicitation, solicitation, award, and sole source notices.
- SubNet – Managed by the SBA, the Subcontracting Network is a database of available subcontracting opportunities for government subcontractors.
- SBA Subcontracting Directory – On top of SubNet, SBA also maintains directories of prime federal contractors with subcontracting plans.
- GSA Subcontracting Directory – The General Services Administration hosts a subcontracting directory on its website to assist small businesses in seeking large prime contractors who require subcontractors.
In addition to these notable gov websites, you can also broaden your search for contracting opportunities by visiting the websites of every federal agency you want to do business with.
6. How do I find government contracts on Sam?
Navigating the System for Awards Management website is pretty easy! If you are looking for available opportunities, hover over “Contract Opportunities” located on the home page.
If you have a registered account at SAM, you can request an analysis report for previously awarded contracts to get an overview of federal trends.
7. How do I find open government contracts?
If you are seeking a one-stop website to scout for available government contracts, heading over to SAM.gov might be your best bet. Aside from the usual federal contracts, you can also find set-aside contracts for small businesses at SAM.gov.
8. How do I get local government contracts?
USA.gov maintains a repository of information concerning the critical aspects of the services of the government. According to the website, here is what you need to do if you want to start selling your services to your local government:
- Check the existing policies and contracting process of your local state.
- Reach out to your local state procurement or contracting office. They can give you access to valuable development resources and strategies necessary for your growth in the industry.
- Scout for contracting opportunities available in your county, city, and town governments.
9. Where can I find DoD contracts?
The Department of Defense publishes all of its contracting opportunities at SAM.gov.
10. Is there a list of federal contractors?
Looking up the most prominent industry movers of the federal government contracting industry can give you an insight or two into how you, too, can make it to the top. And that is why we have rounded up the government contracting industry giants in some of the most in-demand fields as of late: healthcare, defense, construction, and IT.
Do you still have questions left unanswered?
Given how complex this industry is, these ten questions are probably not enough to answer all your questions about being a federal government contractor. But, don’t worry! We have compiled these beginner-friendly guides that can help you set your foot into the door of the government contracting industry!
- Learn the ropes of the confusing registration process of becoming a contractor.
- Practice networking with industry movers to grow your government contracting business.
- Know which industry thought leaders you should follow to gain more insights about your craft.
- Master the art of writing a bid proposal for your government contracts.