with the US Government
section will be devoted to articles providing information for small
business wishing to do businesses with the United States Government,
the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world! Feel free
to print this page as a resource, just make sure your ink
cartridges are full first.
States Government is the world's largest purchaser of goods
and services to the tune of over $225 BILLION
dollars annually. Virtually everything you can think of is purchased
in both large and small quantities. So, have no doubt that whatever
service or product your business is selling it is being sought by
this prolific buyer! Also, get the idea out of your head that the
Government only deals in large purchases. Sure, they buy airplanes
and submarines for billions of dollars but in fact this level of
buying accounts for less than 5% of all Government purchases. The
majority of purchases are for $5,000 or less.
and equally important, the U.S. Small
Business Administration (SBA) has a mandate to make sure small
businesses obtain a certain percentage of everything the government
buys. Because of this nearly all government agencies have special
small business programs
that are designed to ensure this mandate is met. The SBA also operates
electronic bulletin boards as well as a page on the Internet. Don't
overlook them as a source of information and assistance.
how can you possibly pass up a customer
like this? So what's the catch? None, really. There is a perception
that doing business with Uncle Sam is so hard that the trouble is
not worth it. Maybe, but we hope this book will make the trouble
worth it. The fact is, your fellow small business owners will sell
around $40 billion dollars of goods and services to the government
this year ... so it can't be too difficult to make a sale!
The purpose of these
pages is to provide the information required to allow you to get started
with this lucrative customer.
to top of page
a lot of misconceptions about doing business with the U.S. Government.
The following question and answer format will clarify some of these
I thought only large corporations could successfully sell to the
A: On the
contrary, over 90% of all purchases made by the U.S. Government
are less than $25,000. The really big contracts get the publicity
so the perception is that all the contracts are big ones.
Q: Why should
I consider the U.S. Government as a customer?
of size and volume. The U.S. Government is the largest customer
in the world for supplies and services. You really should not
ignore a customer like that!
the paperwork required in selling to the government so complex
that the effort is not worth the reward?
the paperwork can be daunting, but only for the really big contracts.
Many small businesses will only deal within the "small purchases"
programs (explained later) and for the most part, the government
simply issues your business a purchase order or uses a credit
card just like any other customer!
Q: I thought
the government was a poor customer in that it takes forever to
get paid. Right?
again, the only time this sort of information gets publicized
is when a lot of money and a good story is involved. In fact,
it is rare that the government does not pay within 30 days. And,
if they pay later than 30 days, the law requires that you get
to top of page
Your Product or Service to the U.S. Government
from "United States Government - New Customer!"
by Robert Sullivan)
Check out this informative new title!
States Government is the world's largest purchaser of goods and
services to the tune of over $225 BILLION dollars annually.
Virtually everything you can think of is purchased in both large
and small quantities. So, have no doubt that whatever service or
product your business is selling it is being sought by this prolific
buyer! Also, get the idea out of your head that the Government only
deals in large purchases. Sure, they buy airplanes and submarines
for billions of dollars but in fact this level of buying accounts
for less than 5% of all Government purchases. The majority of
purchases are for $5,000 or less.
and equally important, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
has a mandate to make sure small businesses obtain a certain percentage
of everything the government buys. Because of this, nearly all government
agencies have special small business programs that are designed
to ensure this mandate is met. The SBA also operates electronic
bulletin boards as well as a page on the Internet. Don't overlook
them as a source of information and assistance.
how can you possibly pass up a customer like this? So what's the
catch? None, really. There is a perception that doing business with
Uncle Sam is so hard that the trouble is not worth it. The secret
to selling to the government is to be knowledgeable about the process.
Here are a dozen initial steps you can take that will put you on
the road to making the largest customer in the world yours!
Steps to Success!
Determine the Standard Industrial Code (SIC) code for your products
or services. This code is used by many agencies when purchasing
and you will need it when filling out various forms. SIC codes are
listed in "The Standard Industrial Classification Manual" (700 pages!)
which is available at most larger libraries. Check the reference
section. You can also purchase your own copy from the Government
Printing Office for $29. Call them at 202 512 1800.
Get a CAGE code. This is an alpha-numeric identifier assigned
by the Defense Logistics Services Center and identifies your business.
CAGE numbers are used by many government purchasing activities
to identify the firms with which they do business. This code is
especially important if you want to sell to any of the Defense
To get your code, visit the Central Contractor
Registration (CCR) site, http://www.ccr.gov/
and register with the CCR. When registration is complete, your
organization will be issued a CAGE Code. You will need your DUNS
number in order to register so have it handy.
Ensure that each agency with whom you might do business has a
copy of your SF-129 (Solicitation Mailing List Form) so that you
will receive copies of any solicitation from that agency. Copies
of this form may be obtained from virtually any government agency.
Simply call and ask for the "Small Business Representative." Review
the U.S. Government section of your local telephone directory
for numbers. You can also get copies from the General Services
Administration Business Service Center in your area. Call 202
708 5804 for the office nearest you.
with the SBA who can assist you with determining which agencies
may be interested in your product of service. Call them at 1 800
Visit or call the office of any government agency in your area
and talk with the small business representative about selling
to their agency.
Register with the SBA's new PRO-Net program (this program is replacing
the PASS database). You can register online for PRO-Net. Simply
visit http://www.sba.gov and click on PRO-Net.
If you are
a minority owned business, get listed in ABELS (Automated Business
Enterprise Locator System), another important database. Get an
application by calling the Minority Business Development Agency
at 202 482 1958.
Review the Commerce Business Daily (CBD) for contract awards to
determine sub-contracting opportunities and to check which agencies
are purchasing your product or services. You may find copies of
the CBD at most large libraries, you may subscribe at a cost of
$260/year by contacting the Government Printing Office at 202
512 1800, or best of all you may view the current issue for free
on the Internet at: http://www.cos.gdb.org
Share ideas with local companies doing business with Federal government
agencies. Most newspapers carry listings of companies that have
won government contracts.
Market directly to other contractors, state and local agencies
who receive Federal contracts. Find who they are by reviewing
Pursue micro & small purchases. Most agencies purchase millions
of dollars of products in amounts of $5,000 or less. Make sure
that you indicate you are interested in these small purchases
when you talk with the various agencies.
Ensure that your company brochure is in the hands of every procurement
agency you can locate. Try to get it into the hands of the small
business representative for each agency that purchases your product
or service. The small business representative can be located by
calling various agencies (local numbers if a facility is near
you) or their Washington, DC headquarters. Simply ask. Additionally,
your local SBA office may have lists of contacts.
Visit or call your local SBA office and ask for assistance and
ideas. This will be time well spent!
a merchant card account (accept credit cards for payment).
Most agencies are now using credit cards for purchases less than
to top of page
Contractor Registration (CCR)
Contractor Registry (CCR) provides a "single face" to a vendor for
registering to do business with the Government. The contractor is
responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the data and is the only
one authorized to change their data. The government uses the CCR
data internally to expedite the exchange of information among the
various Agencies looking for business sources.
of CCR is that your small business is on equal footing with the
big guys. You no longer have to register with every local procurement
office to gain bid access to possible contracts of interest.
your company into the CCR, visit their website at http://www.ccr.gov/.
Registration will require that you have a DUNS
number. You may obtain a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet at 1
(800) 333 0505.
This is a
great free service. Use it.
to top of page
- What is it & Why is it Important?
If you do
business with the U.S. Government (or are planning to), now is the
time to get familiar with FACNET, or Federal Acquisition
First, a little
history. An Executive Order was issued in 1993 which laid out a
"vision" for electronic commerce. In 1994, the Federal Acquisition
Streamlining Act mandated a strategy for a government-wide "single
face to industry." Electronic commerce is the use of Electronic
Data Interchange, or EDI, rather than paper for exchanges of information.
FACNET was formulated to provide an order processing facility through
which the government may electronically transmit their requirements
directly to registered vendors.
As an incentive
for agencies to move forward with FACNET, the simplified acquisition
threshold (that value of purchase in which a government agency may
buy goods or services using very simple procedures without the need
for a competitive bidding process) is raised from $50,000 to $100,000.
In return the agency must, by 1999, conduct three-quarters of their
acquisitions through FACNET. This is good news for small businesses.
Acquisition Regulations (FAR), the governments' rule book for all
official government contracting regulations and procedures, details
(in Part 13) "simplified acquisition procedures." The objective
of these simplified procedures is to reduce costs and improve opportunities
for small businesses in obtaining a fair proportion of government
contracts. Furthermore, FACNET will be the preferred method for
The use of
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the basis for FACNET and allows
organizations to generate, receive and process data with minimum
human intervention. EDI networks will automatically update inventories,
invoice customers, pay suppliers, advertise Federal Government requirements
and many other tasks that previously have been labor and paper intensive.
It is estimated that electronic purchasing can cut Federal procurement
costs by 10% by 1997 and speed delivery times by a third.
businesses can take advantage of this technology with a small personal
computer, a modem, and some specialized communications capability
available from Value Added Network (VAN) providers.
A VAN provider
is an entity that provides electronic mailboxing and other communications
services for EDI transmissions.
As of December
31, 1995, Federal agencies that are FACNET-Capable include the following:
(For an agency to be FACNET capable requires that 75% of their acquisitions
above $2,500 and below $100,000 are conducted through EDI)
Product Safety Commission
- U.S. Information
of the Interior
- U.S. International
- Office of
Personnel Management (OPM)
of the Treasury
The best way
to select a VAN provider is to call a few and ask a lot of questions.
Prices, software, and support vary widely. EDS, for example, provides
easy-to-use Windows-based software called
to top of page
One way for a Small
business to sell to the U.S. Government agencies is through a contractual
vehicle called the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule contract.
The GSA Schedule is a negotiated contract that is available to all Government
agencies as a procurement vehicle. The GSA negotiates the contract with
the vendors and all vendor products, services pricing and terms and conditions
are provided in the Schedule. The Schedule is made available to all other
Government agencies for their procurements. So, instead of negotiating
individual contracts with various agencies, vendors may negotiate a contract
to get a GSA Schedule contract and use the contract to sell to all agencies!
In recent years
the GSA Schedule contract has become one of the most sought after contractual
vehicles for Government procurement. This has been enhanced since the
passage of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act. The total procurements
through the GSA Schedule total approximately $40 billion annually.
The GSA awards three
types of contracts: Single Award Schedule (SAS), Multiple Award Schedule
(MAS) and the Maintenance and Repair Schedule. The following is a brief
description of the differences between three types of schedules:
Items manufactured under Federal Military Specifications or Commercial
Specific Geographic area
Awarded as a result of Sealed bidding
No guarantee of sales
Indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ contract)
Major contractual vehicle for Government procurement
Based on discounts from Commercial Price Lists
Used for maintenance and repair of in-use property
Mandatory for all departments and independent establishments in the Executive
Branch of the Government Sealed bidding
Small Business set aside unless exempt
There are numerous
benefits for the Government agencies to place procurements through the
GSA Schedule holders:
- Separate contracts
do not have to be negotiated with schedule holders. The GSA schedule
is a negotiated contract for all Government agencies to use. This reduces
the administrative time for procurements.
- Government Credit
cards may be used to procure through the GSA schedule.
- No Maximum Order
limitation. Contractors may accept any size order through the GSA Schedule.
- Electronic procurements
through GSA Advantage. (Visit http://www.gsa.gov/ for details).
- Terms and conditions
of GSA Schedules may also be used to sell to the State and Local Government
- It is easier for
holders of GSA Schedules to negotiate terms and conditions with State
and Local Government Agencies. For example the California Multiple Award
Schedule (CMAS) mirrors for the most part the GSA Schedule.
The GSA Schedule
is an excellent way for a small business to sell products and services
to the U.S. Federal Government. The only disadvantage, if you can
call it that, of a GSA contract is the paperwork can be daunting
but the rewards can be great. Information International
can provide assistance in obtaining a
GSA schedule for your company.
about GSA schedules can be found at http://www.gsa.gov/
to top of page
Federal Marketplace is a site designed to assist businesses in selling
to the federal government. Most information is free including the current
issue of the CBD, contracting opportunities, procurement regulations
and forms, and considerable information on doing business with the government.
specializes in sales information for companies seeking government
contracts and has recently enhanced its services with sales leads
from all areas of local government and abroad.
- Find Opportunities
with the General Services Administration (GSA) Small Business Program.
1 888 633 4472. This phone number is sponsored by GSA's Office of Enterprise
Development and is an excellent source of information.
is an excellent government information resource providing business opportunities,
Commerce Business Daily (CBD) access, downloadable forms, FACNET information,
and more. Unique to this site is free daily CBD access and the ability
to search back 8 weeks without cost.
Commerce Business Daily is available free here. Powerful search
functions are included.
Acquisition Reform Network is a good place to find information about
acquisition activities for all the major government agencies.
- A major listing
of government agencies and their acquisition activities can be found
at the Federal
Acquisition Jumpstation site.
to top of page
Small Business Centers
GSA has Small Business
Centers in 12 key locations nationwide that can help you tap the multi-billion-dollar
GSA "market" for goods and services. Contact a center nearest you from
the listing below:
|| Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
||617 565 8100
|| 617 565 8101
||10 Causeway Street Boston, MA 02222
||New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico,
U.S. Virgin Islands
||212 264 1234
||212 264 2760
|| 26 Federal Plaza New York, NY 10278
||Delaware, Maryland (except Prince
George's and Montgomery Counties), Pennsylvania, Virginia (except
Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties and the
city of Alexandria), West Virginia
||215 656 5525
||215 656 6404
||100 Penn Square East Philadelphia,
||Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky,
Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
||404 331 5103
|| 404 331 1813
||Room 2832 401 West Peachtree Atlanta,
||Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota,
|| 312 353 5383
||312 353 5385
||230 South Dearborn Street Chicago,
|| Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska
|| 816 926 7203
|| 816 823 1167
||1500 East Bannister Road Kansas City,
|| Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico,
|| 817 334 3284
||817 334 4867
||Room 11A09 819 Taylor Street Fort
Worth, TX 76102
|| Colorado, Montana, North Dakota,
South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming
|| 303 236 7408
|| 303 236 7403
|| Building 41, Room 145 Denver Federal
Center Denver, CO 80225
|| Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, Northern
||415 522 2700
|| 415 522 2705
|| Market Street San Francisco, CA 94105
||213 894 3210
||213 894 3473
||Room 3259 300 North Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles CA 90012
||Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
|| 206 931 7000
||206 804 4887
||Room 2413 400 15th Street, SW Auburn,
Capital Region (NCR)
|| District of Columbia and the Washington,
DC, metropolitan area: in Maryland Montgomery and Prince George's
Counties; in Virginia Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William
Counties and the city of Alexandria.
||202 708 5804
|| 202 205 2872
|| Room 1050 7th and D Streets, SW Washington,
to top of page
Added Network Providers
Advanced Communications Systems
Government Program Support
25054 Lorain Road
North Olmsted, OH 44070
3405 E. Dr. M. L. King Jr. Blvd.
PO Box 30021
Tampa, FL 33630-3021
Advanced Logic Resources, Inc., and WWW Home Page
230 Columbia Avenue
Chapin, SC 29036
23441 Golden Springs
Diamond Bar, CA 91765
PO Box 2457
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Complexity Simplified, Inc.
Thomas A. Godwin
PO Box 100280
Denver, CO 80250-0280
Computer Network Corporation (CNC) and WWW Home Page
335 Hartford Road
South Orange, NJ 07079
DATAMATIX and WWW Home Page
630 West Germantown Pike
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
Mail Stop : A2N-D51
13600 EDS Drive
Herndon, VA 22071
90 Main Mast Circle
New Castle, NH 03854-0204
Leonard "Len" Murray
4585 Ironton Street
Denver, CO 80239
800-967-6005 or 303-371-5200
GAP Instrument Corporation, and WWW Home Page
Federal VAN/EDI Service Center
100 Horse Block Road
Long Island, NY 11980-9504
GE Information Systems (GEIS)
401 North Washington Street
Rockville, MD 20850-1785
Government Sales Department
1055 Lenox Park Blvd.
Atlanta, GA 30319
Loren Data Corporation
4640 Admiralty Way, Suite 430
Marina del Ray, CA 90292
Maple Information Services
93 Water Street
St. Johns, NF A1C 1A5
MCI Telecommunication Corporation
MCI Electronic Commerce Sales
201 Centennial Avenue
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Network Information Services
359 San Miguel Drive, Suite 204
Newport Beach, CA 92660
1000 Burnett Avenue
Concord, CA 94520
EDI Sales Department
7426 Alban Station Boulevard,
Springfield, VA 22150
3780 Rochester Road, Suite 100
Troy, MI 48083
Softshare, and WWW Home Page
EDI Sales Department
2241 Stanwood Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Sprint Government Systems Division
6666 West 110th Street
Overland Park, KS 66211
4600 Lakehurst Court
Dublin, OH 43017
Technology Management Programs, Inc.
PO Box 188063
1725 Geranium Street
Carlsbad, CA 92009
385 Bel Marin Keys Boulevard
Novato, CA 94949
TranSettlements, Inc., and WWW Home Page
1745 Phoenix Boulevard
Atlanta, GA 30349
12777 North Rockwell
Oklahoma City, OK 73142
Return to top of page - Back to Home Page