The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) outlines the procedures that contracting officials must use to guide government purchases. It includes the methods listed below, which are used to notify contractors of the goods and services currently being solicited by government agencies. For more information about the FAR, go to http://www.acquisition.gov.
Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) lists which agencies are buying and what their needs are. Its single-entry, government-wide website (http://www.fbo.gov) announces all available business opportunities over $25,000. FedBizOpps will be your most important source of information.
Simplified Procedures can be used to solicit and evaluate bids for purchases between $3,000 and $100,000. Federal rules require that these purchases be reserved for small businesses, unless the contracting official cannot obtain offers from two or more small firms that are competitive on price, quality, and delivery. (Purchases over $25,000 still must be advertised in FedBizOpps.) Proposed contracts of $10,000 to $25,000 that will be awarded via a simplified procedure must be displayed in a public place (“Big Board”) or by an appropriate electronic means, such as an agency’s website. Become familiar with how those buying offices advertise their requirements and then monitor them closely.
SUB-Net is SBA’s searchable database that prime contractors use to post subcontracting opportunities. Subcontracting, or teaming, can be a profitable experience and a growth opportunity for a small business. Large prime contractors whose contracts exceed $550,000 (except in construction where the limit is $1 million) are required to provide a plan with subcontracting opportunities for all categories of small businesses. In addition, experience gained from being a subcontractor can help you become a prime contractor. Small businesses can review the website, http://www.sba.gov/subnet, to identify opportunities in their areas of expertise. The website is also used by federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, and even foreign governments.
Micro-purchases are purchases of individual items under $3,000. They do not require competitive bids or quotes, and agency employees other than a contracting officer can pay using a government credit card. It is important to be able to process credit card purchases, if you want a share in micro-purchases. Also, micro-purchases are not reserved for small businesses.
General Services Administration (GSA) is the centralized purchasing arm of the federal government. By aggregating the purchases of common products and services, the GSA can realize enormous economies of scale. The GSA program (also referred to a Multiple Award Schedules and Federal Supply Schedules) establishes long-term, government-wide contracts with commercial firms to provide access to over 11 million commercial supplies and services via the GSA Advantage online shopping and ordering system. State and local governments also use the GSA schedules for purchasing goods and services. Becoming a GSA schedule contractor increases your opportunity for contracts across all levels of government. See Getting on Schedule at http://www.gsa.gov/schedules.
Search on federal government procurement and check out the various procurement websites.