Friday, August 24, 2012
With the ever-expanding reach of computers, smart phones, tablets, and other technology, the demand for IT companies within both the public and private sector has never been higher. The federal government spends over $70 billion a year on IT products and services, creating tremendous opportunity for companies in this arena. Yet, when it comes to actually finding and taking advantage of these opportunities, most companies don’t know where to start.
There are multiple paths to government business, but here are three of the best options for IT companies:
1. Subcontracting – One great way to build experience without the full level of responsibility associated with being a Prime Vendor is to serve as a subcontractor. Subcontracting can provide invaluable experience that can help if your company decides to pursue direct contracts with the government in the future. All large businesses that hold a GSA Schedule Contract are required to subcontract a certain percentage of their business activities to small businesses. The General Services Administration (GSA) maintains an online directory of these companies along with their subcontracting goals and points of contact. Spend some time searching the directory and reach out to companies within your industry for subcontracting opportunities.
2. FedBizOpps (https://www.fbo.gov) – FedBizOpps, or FBO, is a government website where federal agencies post contract opportunities. Most federal contract solicitations above $25,000 must be published on the site. You can search for contract opportunities by agency, location, and/or your category of product/service offering. The site contains an overwhelming amount of information, so while you aren’t required to register to browse opportunities, registration is recommended to take full advantage of the site’s functionalities — such as the ability to track contracts. You will need to provide your D-U-N-S Number to register.
3. GSA Schedule – A GSA Schedule can be viewed as a master contract with the federal government. GSA and a company agree on a certain set of terms, conditions, and prices from which eligible government buyers can purchase. If you plan on or are already doing business with government agencies, a GSA Schedule Contract is particularly beneficial because, in addition to streamlining the buying process, it provides access to restricted, GSA-only solicitations. The GSA Schedule 70, which is the Information Technology (IT) Equipment, Software & Services Schedule, is the largest of all the Schedules in terms of sales and number of contract holders. The GSA IT Schedule is unique in that, in addition to federal agencies, state and local government buyers can also purchase from the Schedule. Agencies consistently spend over $16 billion a year through the GSA IT Schedule.
Thomas McCrary is the Executive Contracts Manager at Federal Schedules, Inc., a provider of GSA consulting that assists and educates businesses on how to sell to the government.