by Yolanda Cowart | May 10, 2018
One of the largest commerce entities in the world is the United States government. The government may be a huge business, but they conduct business with small to mid-sized businesses every day. Fully understanding how the government buys – via contract vehicles, schedules, and contracts – is a huge part of understanding how you can get a slice of their lucrative business pie.
Simply explained, a contract vehicle is the government’s method of efficiently buying the goods and services they need. Contract vehicles are organized and managed by a central federal agency. This agency’s focus is on reducing administrative costs and establishing timesaving systems for purchases, payments, and acquisitions. Below are eight government contract vehicles small and medium-sized businesses should know about:
- SAM (System For Award Management Registration)
Before you can acquire any government contract, you must register through SAM (sam.gov). U.S. governmental institutions and departments purchase goods and services from businesses of all sizes. Committed to diversity, the federal government chooses a variety of suppliers for everything from printer paper to architecture to ink pens.
- FBO (Federal Business Opportunities)
Visit FBO (fedbizopps.gov) for a list of current federal contracting opportunities. FBO procurement officers share information on optimal times and methods for responding to each prospective offering. Any procurement opportunities with a value greater than $25K can be found there.
- GSA (General Services Administration)
GSA (gsa.gov) oversees government real estate and related policies and procedures. It obtains and schedules the construction, management, and preservation of government buildings. GSA manages professional services, building supplies, and IT support, along with promoting efficiency and concision.
- VA FSS (Veteran’s Affairs Federal Supply Schedule Service)
The Department of Veterans Affairs, through the VA FSS (fss.va.gov), handles a variety of award contracts for medical equipment, pharmaceutical supplies, and additional support programs. VA FSS Service maintains and reinforces the healthcare needs of the VA and other federal agencies.
- DALC (The Denver Acquisition and Logistics Center)
Along with running the VA’s only hearing aid repair program, DALC (va.gov/oal/about/dalc.asp), administrates the holistic supply chain for its National Hearing Aid and Telehealth Programs. It distributes hearing aids, batteries, prosthetic socks, and visual aids for deserving veterans all over the world via global mail order.
- DIBBS (Defense Logistics Agency Internet Board System)
The DIBBS (dibbs.bsm.dla.mil) system provides access to the vast majority (85 percent) of the DLA’s solicitations that support America’s combat logistics. It’s the Internet-based search engine and application system where businesses search for, view, and submit quotes securely.
- IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity)
IDIQ (gsa.gov) maintains a steady supply of goods and services for a predetermined period of time. IDIQ contracts typically span a minimum of five years and are used to acquire architectural services, IT products and services, service contracts, and engineering services.
- SAP (Simplified Acquisition Procedures)
The SAP’s function is to organize procurement of necessary goods and services. The SAP (simplifiedacquisitionprogram.org) streamlines the process by assisting small businesses in navigating the contract acquisition process, reducing paperwork, and lowering costs for both parties.
Companies of all sizes, from small, micro-firms with one employee to large, mega-firms with thousands of employees have been successful in selling products and services to government agencies at the federal, state, city, county and municipal levels. However, the competition for government contracts has heightened as more companies try to break into, be competitive in, and stay successful in this market.
If you are considering doing business with the government, then you will need to develop a marketing plan that is geared specifically to that marketplace. A marketing strategy is a critical tool to help you be as successful as possible, no matter what size company you represent. Researching and how the federal government buys and procures its good and services is a very important step in your market research. Understanding the contract vehicle will determine your market approach.
When your business is conducting market research and exploring new avenues of growth and expansion, the government should definitely be on your radar. Add these eight discovery avenues to your market research, familiarize yourself with the processes and procedures, and stay informed on what goods and services the government needs.