Are you ready for government contracting?

If the answer is yes, contact your PTAC today. PTAC will work with you to review potential markets. The markets could be city, county, state, federal government agencies and large business. We help you interpret regulations and explain how you can “get your foot in the door”.

The US Congress has not passed the budget for many agencies. The federal government is working under a Continuing Resolution Authority (CRA). Therefore, the number of solicitations could be fewer until the budget is passed.

There are still processes you can begin in order to be a government ready vendor:

  • Know your product or service industry code. The federal government uses the NAICS (North American Industry Code System) as the identifier on solicitations.
  • Register your business in the federal database called SAM.gov
  • Register your business in the State of Illinois database at Sell2Illinois.gov
  • Declare your business as small and/or diverse. Diversity includes minority, women and service disabled veteran. This process is called certification. All small businesses can receive certification with the State of Illinois Small Business Set-Aside Program (SBSP). Diverse small businesses can be certified with the Business Enterprise Program (BEP). A Veteran program will be offered in the future.
  • There are federal certifications for federal contracting including HUBZones. Plus, private certifications that large businesses require.
  • Prepare a capability statement as a marketing tool for trade shows, buyer connection visits or email marketing.
  • Review federal government forecasting by agency. You would typically review agencies that are located in your region. For example: Select Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Department of Defense for US Army Corp of Engineers, US Army, US Navy and US Air Force.
  • Review agencies, contracting officers and solicitations with the State of Illinois.

If you are concerned about payment from the State of Illinois, PTAC is too! The State has a new payment system called the Vendor Payment Program. Beware the program does not begin until 90 days after your invoice (receipt) is not paid to your business by the State. Your business would receive 90% of the receipts due after 90 days from a private agent contracted by the State of Illinois. The other 10% would be paid to your business upon payment by the State to the private agent.

The federal government operates under the Federal Acquisition Regulations called the Prompt Pay Act. This clause in the FAR establishes payment will be made 30 days after receipt of a proper invoice from your business. This is another reason doing business with federal agencies could be profitable for your business.

Government agencies do not make any products. They are interested in everything from food commodities to construction equipment. The government buys IT services, engineering services, training consultants’ services, manufactured components and many other products and services.

You need to know how to start the process. At first this may seem overwhelming, but not to worry we explain each step. If you have a designated person to register your business as a supplier to agencies or large businesses, that is a great place to start. The registration and certification processes do take time and your business needs to have a computer to have internet availability.

The types of products of interest to the government are commercial meaning off the shelf (COTS). But, they also have an interest with innovative products or services. PTAC advises your business on potential agencies that have an interest. The best initial approach is with agencies that are local to your business. In the ten counties the IL PTAC at Bradley represents, government agencies include: US Department of Agriculture, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Capital Development Board, Illinois State University, Illinois National Guard, each city and each county government.

Leverage is important in the contracting process. Leverage includes:

  • Being a small business: The SBSP and BEP program certifications are important because the State of Illinois agencies issue solicitations called set-asides. The set-aside contract could be for SBSP or BEP. This means only businesses with the SBSP or BEP certification are qualified to submit the bid.
  • Federal agencies also use the set-aside process for contracting. Federal agencies are mandated that 23% of all federal contracts go to small business. Of that 23%, 5% goes to minority disadvantaged businesses, 5% goes to women owned businesses, 3% goes to HUBZone located businesses (Historically Under Utilized Zone) and 3% goes to service disabled veteran owned businesses. There are also price preference rules with some federal certifications.
  • Contract value dollar thresholds: Understand the advantages of certain thresholds for contracting.  Meaning the dollar value of the solicitation. Not all contracts are posted. Only those bids over $25,000 are posted and those bids under $3000 do not require a competitive bid. This means if you have a product or service that is under the $3000 threshold, you would not be required to submit a bid and the contracting officers would have a direct connection to your business to issue a purchase order. Of course, you have to be registered properly and you have to have a quality product or service at a fair price.
  • Types of purchase: Micro-purchase, Simplified Acquisition Procedures, Formal/Large Contracts, Sole Source, and Set-Asides are a few. Understand the type of contract you are entering into. There are also fixed pricing schedule contracts such as GSA (General Services Administration).

Remember, nothing takes the place of customer service, fair pricing, prompt delivery, past performance, the quality of the product or service and if you have a unique product or service (innovative). With the competitive aspects of doing business, being a small business has its rewards.

PTAC is a no cost counseling service that is dedicated to helping your business find growth in the government market with your commercial product or service. The acquisition jungle is changing every year. We can assist you to make the process easier. To learn more about the PTAC program call (309) 677-3297.