How to find government contracts and solicitations
Government contracts may not be the first thing that comes to mind
when you think about starting a business, but in many cases they are worth exploring and can be very lucrative. Government contracts can offer some of the most profitable opportunities for small businesses, especially those in need of capital or startup funds. However, there is one caveat to this strategy: finding them. You will have to do your research and establish a presence before you can start bidding on government contracts
Where Should You Start Your Search?
There are a number of free databases you can use to find federal, state, and local contracts to bid on. Similarly, there are multiple databases that government agencies use to find small businesses to contract with. The Ohio APEX Accelerator at YSU is happy to help you in your search for government contracts! However, if you want to look for yourself, this article will list the 6 most common websites and databases for finding contracts and solicitations.
1. Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS)
Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) is a database that government agencies use to find small business contractors for upcoming contracts. Small businesses can also use DSBS to find other small businesses to work with, for example if you are looking for federal subcontracts. You can do general searches or profile searches if you already know what you are looking for. An easy way to start is to enter the NAICS codes connected to the business you are looking for and then go from there.
2. System for Award Management (SAM)
System for Award Management (SAM) is a database where you can search for a wide range of government contracts. Make sure you have registered your business with SAM before you start looking for contracts, because you cannot bid for contracts without being registered. The registration is free. The website provides free introductory videos on how to use the database in order for you to be able to use it more efficiently.
3. GSA Schedules
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is the government agency that connects government buyers with contractors. The GSA Multiple Award Schedule Program, also referred to as the “Schedule,” is the primary contract vehicle for the federal government. The Schedule Program is a long-term government wide contract between commercial suppliers and the federal government. There are certain requirements that your business needs to fulfill in order for you to be put on a schedule.
The GSA also publishes a subcontracting directory for small businesses that are looking for subcontracting opportunities with prime contractors.
Subnet is the U.S. Small Business Administration Subcontracting Network, a database of subcontracting opportunities posted by large contractors looking for small businesses to serve as subcontractors. You can make general searches by state or territory, or more advanced searches.
5. Directory of federal government prime contractors with subcontracting plans
The SBA maintains a directory of federal government prime contractors with subcontracting plans. This directory is a listing of Federal Government contractors that have a requirement to subcontract to small businesses. The directory is intended for small business concerns seeking to find subcontracting possibilities with Federal Government prime contractors. This directory should be used as a tool to identify which primes you should investigate to find information about their subcontractor processes.
6. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) maintains a directory of large prime contractors that small businesses can use to find subcontracting opportunities.
You can use this directory to find the contact information of prime contractors for potential subcontracting opportunities. The directory is generated from data contained in Individual Subcontract Reports (ISRs) reported by prime contractors in the Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System (eSRS) and data contained in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS).
Additional Help and Resources
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran in the world of government contracting or just starting out, there are many resources available to help you find and win contracts. One such resource is the Ohio APEX Accelerator at YSU. We offer free consulting services, workshops, and other assistance to all current and potential government contractors, so don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your through your next step in the process.