Procuring Government Contracts
By Shiau-Larn (Shalom) Hoang
Business Advisor, Baruch Small Business Development Center
During economic down times, lots of small businesses and entrepreneurs turn to look for government contracting opportunities when work from the private sector becomes scarce. It is true that the US government is the single largest buyer in the world for goods and services, spending over $500 billion a year buying from the private sector, but that does not mean anyone who wants a piece of the pie can get it just because they feel like it.
Generally speaking, any small business that has been in operation and generating revenue for at least one year can participate in government procurement bidding. However, in order to be eligible to bid on government contracts, small business owners first need to prepare proof that they are legitimate small businesses or minority or women owned business. (We will cover how you can get your business becoming certified MWBE in another blog entry. Just wait for it!) Next step would be to list oneself as eligible small business goods/services provider on various government procurement registries. Some of these registries require proof of eligibility upfront in order for the registration to be approved; some of them only need small businesses to self-certify upon enlisting and provide proof only when their proposals are being considered.
However, there are so many different government agencies posting RFPs (Request For Proposals) everyday – how can one business monitor so many different registries without feeling overwhelmed by the number of them and still be able to sort out the proper RFPs to submit a proposal? An easy way to monitor multiple government procurement agencies at the same time and be able to see only relevant RFPs would be to contact your local New York State Small Business Development Center (NYS SBDC) and ask them to register your business with the BidLinx database.
(BidLinx™ is a new on-line program that is a free service to New York State SBDC clients. It can help identify and locate government agencies that can purchase your goods and services by monitoring over 2000 bid sources daily and sending the opportunity to you via email. BidLinx™ is a web-based service that monitors procurement possibilities from federal agencies, New York State agencies, county and local governments in all 50 states and US territories.)
So what kind of goods and services does the US government buy from small businesses? Many things! Just like any business, the government does not and cannot do everything on its own; it relies on other businesses to provide many goods and services it needs to do its job. Aside from the few better known categories like construction/contracting work, heavy machinery/equipments, the government also acquires services and goods such as IT services, technology products, office furniture, stationary, books, janitorial services, catering services, printing services, marketing services, training/education services, even financial services and photography, and many things we don’t usually think of.
If you are interested in finding out more about government procurement opportunities, pick up your phone and ask an NYS SBDC business advisor to set you up with BidLinx!
Baruch SBDC/Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship
55 Lexington Avenue, Suite 2-140
New York, NY 10010