The Value to Having a Multi-Pronged Procurement Approach for Federal Government Projects
For government agencies and vendors alike, it is important to have a multi-pronged procurement approach. A focused plan should enable going to market quickly and efficiently to request and procure various equipment and services from the market at a price that is fair and one that is implemented by a reputable company with high quality standards.
Government agencies at the federal level can utilize many outlets to go to market. The most prevalent is “FedBizOpps” or fbo.gov. FBO allows a government agencies to develop strategy from pre-sales configuration through project award and implementation. A “Sources Sought” or “RFI” (Request for Information) can be utilized to poll the market for a particular application. Vendors that respond will outline their company history, capabilities, and past performance. This allows the government agency to gather all information and formulate a strategy to put out a formal RFP/RFQ (Request For Proposal/Quote) and make a formal award. The formal solicitation can come from a variety of sources such as total small business, woman owned enterprise, veteran owned enterprise, minority owned enterprise, or disabled veteran enterprise. Government has a fairly high percentage—typically around 50%, of business that must be awarded to small business and the aforementioned disadvantaged categories. FBO is also a great tool for industry/vendors to search for active solicitations, historical research through NAICS codes and geography, and to reach out to program managers and contracting officers. Federal agencies also leverage other government contracts such as GSA, NetCents for Air Force, CHESS for Army, and NASA Sewp to put together projects and make procurements at pre-negotiated prices.
The labyrinth of different options can be very difficult for a vendor to navigate especially if they are new to the federal procurement process. All of the nuances and process can be daunting so a focused strategy is important to define. The most important thing is to have a firm understanding of what the core competencies are a good sense of what the company can offer to government. After that it is crucial to have all documentation in order such as federal tax ID number, being registered at SAM.gov, and receiving a DUNS number. A strong Rolodex of past performance is also crucial so an agency can have confidence that they are getting a good product or solution. Another avenue that is important is partnerships with other vendors. In those situations two or more vendors can partner together and capitalize off of each other’s strongest core competencies. Maybe my company focuses on video applications and I partner with a company who excels with IT infrastructure. Together we can put together a more compelling case to government and also leverage each other’s past performance. Additionally many projects completed at the federal level with larger corporations require a small business plan where a certain percentage of an awarded contract must go to small business. There are a number of large corporations that actively seek to recruit small business through a variety of areas of focus to fulfill these small business requirements.
The terrain of government procurement can be daunting. The key is to have meticulous attention to detail, know who you are as a company, and formulate a strategy of how to go to market through marketing and partnerships. Over time this will create more opportunities at more agencies and result in more awarded contracts. After all, that is the goal to grow business and get that contract.