Finding a local government contract can be quite challenging, especially for small business owners in the U.S. The greatest challenge for many people is finding the resources that provide information on available government contract opportunities. Dealing with the local or federal government is the other challenge because it involves making contacts with people in different departments. However, taking certain steps can help you find and successfully bid for various local or federal government contracts.
Local Government Contracting
It is important for business owners in the U.S. to understand that every location in the country has two types of authorities to deal with; local and federal.
Many business owners make the mistake of overlooking the fact that both municipal and county governments are local. Therefore, these local governments need resources to operate effectively. To win local government contracts, you need to maximize your marketing efforts by visiting key public officials in relevant offices.
It is important to know that there is no standardization in the procurement process between the federal government and the local government. Each state or local government has its own contracting procedure. Therefore, you should be psychologically prepared to visit different offices to get your paperwork in order.
Become familiar with departmental heads in various state and local government offices. For business owners bidding on different state and city contracts, having frequent meetings with department heads may lead to getting valuable information about available contract opportunities.
Network with the procurement officers in state and local government offices. Networking with procurement officers in local government offices allows you to get first hand information about contracts for products or services that you or your company can offer. Local governments’ procurement offices are usually responsible for publishing requests for proposals and requests for quotes.
Frequently visit your local government’s business opportunity website. Many cities and counties are increasingly beginning to use the Internet to announce contract opportunities. Some municipalities allow business owners to not only find contracting opportunities but also submit their bids online.
Writing a Proposal for Bidding on Federal Contracts
Attention to detail separates the companies that win government contracts from the losers. When writing a proposal to bid for a government contract, it is important to examine every detail in the proposal to ensure that the proposal adheres to expectations and requirements. The main reason for writing a proposal when bidding for government contracts is to communicate how your company will fulfill the requirements of the contract. Therefore, the proposal should provide a keen understanding of expectations and requirements.
• The first step to take when writing a proposal for government contracts is to assess whether the proposal will meet the initial expectations of the contract. Before you start writing anything, identify the proposal deadline as well as language and format. In addition, find or request for past winning proposals and compile data about their strengths and weaknesses.
• Identify the type of proposal that you need to submit. There are three types of government proposals: Request for Proposal (RFP), Invitation for Bid (IFB), and Request for Quotation (RFQ). These proposals differ in the type of information required.
• Once you have done the necessary research, devise a plan for approaching each element in the proposal. List the priorities that could disqualify your proposal if not addressed. Consider designating a committee and assigning members with various strengths and competencies in certain issues to ensure different aspects of the proposal are addressed.
• Create a timeline for different aspects of the contract award process. List due dates for the project contract beginning with the current day, two weeks before the deadline, a week before the deadline, the submission day, the due date, and the day when the contract winner is announced. Creating a timeline will keep your proposal committee on track and motivate you and your employees towards your goals.
• Develop the contract proposal. Avoid using sales language to embellish the abilities of your company. Focus on the ability of your company to meet the contract expectations and show how you will meet the contract expectations and needs. Be generous with details and avoid leaving blank sections. Make your company stand out from the competition.
• Write a draft proposal and establish a dialogue with your team to ensure no stone is left unturned. Meet regularly with your team members to ensure your proposal presents a consistent voice and that there is continuity from one section of the proposal to the next. Writing a proposal is a time-sensitive endeavor and you must ensure all sections of the whole bring out the required message.
• Use clear, concise language when writing a proposal and avoid long complex sentences. In addition, make sure your proposal is accompanied with all supporting documentation.
Bidding for Government Contracts
• Identify the capabilities of your company. Local, state, and federal governments have needs for virtually every product or service, but require expertise in a given area.
• Verify your company’s business status. To win government contracts, you will be required to provide essential information about your business including your business DBA information as well as your tax identification number.
• Contact the Small Business Administration to register or verify your company’s classification status.
• Go to the website of the federal government at business.usa.gov
• Apply for your D-U-N-S number, which is free for all companies that intend to do business with the government.
• Register your business with the federal government’s Central Contractor Registration.