Financial & Housing Services

Business Opportunities with the Federal Government

This information, prepared by the Congressional Research Service for Members of Congress, provides guidance and online procurement procedures for doing business with the federal government.

Information and Training

Learning how to sell successfully to the U.S. government, the world's largest buyer of goods and services, can be daunting. Most of the process is conducted online: using a computer is essential. Here are suggested approaches:

  • Update your company's business plan, highlighting special products, skills and expertise that might be of interest to government agencies.
  • Review your company's marketing strategy and goals.
  • Learn federal procurement processes and terms.
  • Government Contracting (SBA)
    Resources to help you sell your products and services to the Federal government.
  • Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
    Provides an on-line system that allows minority business firms to register the company with the MBDAís database to access contract opportunities and other resources.
  • General Services Administration (GSA)
    As the government's chief acquisitions agency, GSAspends billions of dollars annually on products and services offered to all federal agencies.
    • Doing Business with GSA
      Covers government procedures, marketing strategies, and bidding procedures for contracts. Also lists important contacts, such as the 11 GSA regional centers and technical advisors for small businesses.
    • Office of Small Business Utilization (OSBU)
      Through outreach activities in regional offices, promotes increased access to GSA's nationwide procurement opportunities for small, minority, veteran, HUBZone, and women business owners.
    • GSA Training Programs
      Online and onsite courses for vendors and small business, for federal employees, and for state and local government officials.
  • Contact offices in your state or region
    • Speak with procurement specialists or contracting officers about federal government buying procedures.
    • Ask questions about application procedures, technical requirements, and marketing suggestions.
    • Attend procurement programs, which provide opportunities for business people to meet directly with government officials and to learn from other companies involved in federal contracting.
    • Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
      Located in every state, these centers advise and train businesses in financial matters, including certification procedures for small and minority businesses. They are an excellent first stop for any business, especially those with little or no previous experience in dealing with federal procurement.
    • Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
      MBDA Network regional enterprise centers provide resources for minority-owned firms.
    • Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC)
      Although the main focus is providing technical assistance on selling to the military, the centers cover marketing to all government agencies through counseling, training, and procurement programs.
    • GSA Regional offices
      The contracting officers are familiar with the procurement needs of the federal facilities located in their region.

Registration Requirements

Registration is required to compete for federal government procurement and contracts. The federal government's Business Partner Network (BPN) is the single source for vendor data for the Federal Government.

Review Small Disadvantaged Business Certification and Eligibility (SDB) If your business is classified as small or disadvantaged, this certification may lead to more federal procurement opportunities.

Additional statistical codes, required for many government forms:

Federal Business Opportunities

FedBizOpps (Federal Business Opportunities)
Single point of entry for announcements of federal contract opportunities over $25,000, both civilian and military agencies.

  • Serves both federal agencies as buyers and businesses as vendors.

For continuing business, apply to be a GSA Schedule contractor.
Under the GSA Schedules Program, GSA establishes long-term governmentwide contracts that allow customers to acquire a vast array of supplies and services directly from commercial suppliers. These schedules give many businesses, small and large, further opportunities for multiple awards.

  • Also called Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) and Federal Supply Schedules (FSS).
  • Getting on Schedule - Application and approval process "to get on the Schedule" can take considerable time but may be worth it for future business with government agencies.
  • GSA Training - Includes Training for Vendors, such as Need Help Getting on Schedule?

Subcontracting Opportunities

A federal contract may be so large that a single company might have difficulty in providing the products or services required to meet the terms of the contract. A prime contractor may need to use subcontractors to complete contractual obligations.

  • SUB-Net (SBA Subcontracting Network)
    Identify subcontract opportunities by reviewing the postings of prime contractors.
  • Subcontracting Opportunities (SBA)
    Identify prime contractors through a listing of contractors.

Selling to the Military and Department of Defense

Specialized Information on Selling to the Military

Many of the DOD contract announcements and registration requirements for businesses have been incorporated into FedBizOpps (Federal Business Opportunities), with registration at Central Contractor Registration (CCR). However, there are often special requirements for selling to the military. The vast majority of DOD contracts are awarded by DOD field organizations, or specific mission-oriented agencies within an organization.