This is Part 1 of a 2 part blog about government contracting best practices to reduce business organizational risk factors. Today’s is for small businesses.
I have been re-reading a book called Winning US Federal Government Contracts by Gregory A. Garrett. In Chapter 3, he mentions the many obstacles faced by small and emerging contractors. The trick, he says is to “learn these risk factors prior to their having a negative impact on your company.” He goes on to mention that judgment is often clouded by money – in this case the potential for millions in government contracting awards.
So, how does a small business go about reducing these risk factors? I pulled 5 of the 12 steps mentioned in the book:
1 – Become a certified Small Business Administration small business concern (with an appropriate small business category). This is an easy way to get at some of the awards that are available ONLY for these types of business. There have been rules implemented recently that make the process of becoming a certified small business a little more of a chore (you can no longer self-certify in some cases), but it is worth it. Within the last 30 days, fedbizopps lists 7,733 opportunities for small businesses of one kind or another (108 for women-owned; 896 for veteran-owned; etc.)
3 – Obtain two or more government contracting vehicles (GSA Federal Supply Schedules, Blanket Purchase Agreement, Indefinite Delivery Contracts, etc.) This makes it easier for the government to do business with you for your good or service, especially if what you offer is under purchasing thresholds or the simplified acquisition threshold.
5 – Sell only commercial items, products, and services pursuant to FAR Part 12. The government can easily purchase commercial items with little red tape and less justification than a full-fledged award based on the merits of your proposal versus the others competing for the right to provide the government these items.
8 – Pursue small business set-aside opportunities. This is a no-brainer. If you have gone through the chore of getting yourself certified as a small business, why not take advantage of it? Again, the government sets aside quite a few opportunities on a regular basis in order to “stimulate” small businesses and job growth.
10 – Read, understand, comply, and enforce contract terms and conditions. This includes the T&Cs throughout the contract as well as the clauses included or included by reference. It is important to research these items both pre- and post-award to understand what reporting you must do as well as the fundamental requirement of the clauses and T&Cs. When was the last time you actually read the full breadth of a contract, let alone understood the “legalese” in which it was written?
I really enjoy the practical advice given in the book, even if it does need some of the numbers/dollars updated. I am currently reading over Chapter 5 in particular to see what else I can do to make your jobs easier.