Small Business Advice For Bidding On Federal Contracts In 2023

The First Step Is Registering With SAM

To do business with the federal government, you must register your business in the System for Award Management directory. The government will not hire any type of business (large or small) that has not registered in the SAM directory.

Please read one of the helpful blog articles on our site Everything You Need to Know About SAM for Small Businesses.  These blogs will help give you all the information you need to understand how we can help make the process very easy for you. Sam Directory will happily guide you through this often confusing process.

What do I need to register for the Sam Directory?

You will need the following :

  • A Data Universal Numbering System or DUNS from Dun and Bradstreet
  • Your Tax Identification Number or TIN
  • A Social Security Number if you are a Sole Proprietor.

Where Do You Find Government Contracts For Bidding

Search for opportunities at the following Federal agencies are required to publish all contracts that are above $25,000 on This means that there are a large number of contracts advertised there at any given time.

Contact a procurement officer for information on contracts that are below the $25,000 threshold for publishing.

Look To Your Local PTAC Office

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers or PTACs provide free assistance in government contracting. They will help you identify bidding opportunities and if your company meets certain criteria to work with the government. Here is also where you can find out if your business can be certified as 8(a), WOSB., or HUBZone.

Understanding The Federal Contracting System

General Services Administration, also known as GSA, is responsible for acquiring the goods and services needed by federal agencies. The United States government basically needs everything and is a super consumer worth billions of dollars.

The government uses schedules to purchase goods and services. When there is a need in an agency it is called a schedule award. These are great opportunities for small businesses. A company needs to bid for the award. Once the award is won, the winning bid signifies a signed contract between the business and the government.

This means that learning how to bid for these government contracts is extremely important in order to be successful with this lucrative customer.

Get The Bid Package

After you have ascertained the government contract that you want to bid on, it is important to contact the agency and request a bid package. This package is also often called the solicitation package.

After you receive the package, review it carefully. Find out what the purchasing office is wanting to buy and figure out if your company can meet the requirements.

The Bid Package should contain the following: the buyer’s contact information including name, address, phone number, and e-mail address listed on the bid notice. When you request the bid package, make sure to also ask for amendments.

What Type Of Contract Is Being Sought?

The three major contracts that are being sought are fixed price, cost reimbursement, and special situation.

Fixed-Price Contracts

These government contracts are used when the scope of work is clear from the beginning and therefore a price is determined by the agency in advance. There are many different types of this particular contract.

Cost-Reimbursement Contracts

Cost reimbursement is a category of contracts that is used when it would be too difficult to estimate the cost of the project in advance. They usually define a spending limit but are a way lower risk for the service provider than fixed-price contracts. 

Special Situation Contracts

These include:

  • Labor hour: Direct labor hours expended are reimbursed at a hard and fast hourly rate, usually including all costs and profits. (See FAR 16.602)
  • Definite-quantity: The contract quantity is defined, but the delivery schedule is flexible. Payment is on some sort of fixed-price basis. (See FAR 16.502)
  • Requirements: Actual delivery schedules and quantities are flexible during the contract period. Payment is based on a predetermined fixed-price basis. (See FAR 16.503)
  • Special Bidding Techniques and Bid Office Terminology

The Bid

The Federal government has the following type of solicitations for bidding:

  • Request for Quotation (RFQ). This type is for contracts below $150,000 with a simplified acquisition procedure.
  • Request for Proposal (RFP). This type of solicitation asks vendors to make a proposal in response to the government’s request. You can (and often will) discuss delivery details, technical requirements, and specifications with the contracting officer when you bid on that type of solicitation.
  • Invitation for Bid (IFB). The “lowest bid wins” or “sealed bid” type of solicitation. No discussion or price negotiation is implied here.
  • Request for Information (RFI). This is mostly to research the market and evaluate the interest and capabilities of contractors in a specific niche.

Make sure you read the solicitation requirements carefully. A solicitation package will include, documents, technical conditions, attachments, and various other things required with the submission. For most federal government contracts under RFP and IFB solicitations, there are standard contracting forms you should fill out. As for the required documents, they are listed in the solicitation

Contact your contracting officer if you have questions. It is important that you understand every single thing about the solicitation that you are bidding on. Also, look to FARs (Federal Acquisitions Regulations) that govern the solicitation you are to respond to make sure you know the regulations and requirements.

New Bidding Techniques

Auction — A government buying technique where the bidding continues until no competitor is willing to submit a far better (i.e., lower) bid. The technique is usually mentioned as “reverse auction” because the govt is trying to find a rock bottom price, not the very best price.

It is important to do your research and make sure that you can cover your costs in an auction process. Do not get caught up in the excitement of the moment and make calm rational decisions.

Bundling — a way where the govt consolidates two or more requirements that were normally bought separately into one contract. The support contracts of the many military bases, which require a spread of labor disciplines to stay at the bottom operating, are being bid in this manner.

In bundling, make sure that you carefully read all the provisions. It is important to not ignore the project management aspect of this type of bidding.