Women's Government Contracts

Government Contracts for Women

Small businesses in general and women owned businesses have a greater opportunity to thrive in the Federal subcontracting arena.

To be a successful woman government contractor, you need to treat the government like a customer. As a Woman Business Owner, you should think through the same issues that you would if you were planning to sell to a private company or an individual client:
  • Do you have a unique product or service that few other companies sell?

  • Do you know what agency needs your product or service?

  • Do you have core knowledge from years of experience?

  • Can you effectively compete with other businesses?

  • Can your business financially support the execution of a government contract with delayed payment?

  • After you have a solid understanding of your own product or service and what the right market is, the next step is to decide whether the government is the right customer for you.

Federal Acquistion Regulation

The government buys many of the products and services it needs from suppliers who meet certain qualifications. It applies standardized procedures by which to purchase goods and services. That is, the government does not purchase items or services in the way an individual household might. Instead, government contracting officials use procedures that conform to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

The FAR is a standardized set of regulations used by all federal agencies in making purchases. It provides procedures for every step in the procurement process, from the time someone in the government discovers a need for a product or service to the time the purchase is complete.

FedBizOpps is a web-based application and is the government-wide point of entry to communicate its buying requirements to potential suppliers.

When the government wants to purchase a certain product or service, it can use a variety of contracting methods. Simplified acquisition procedures, sealed bidding, contracting by negotiation and consolidated purchasing vehicles are key contract methodologies used to purchase products and services.

The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) of 1994 is intended to simplify government buying procedures. It removed many competition restrictions on government purchases of less than $100,000. Instead of full and open competition, agencies can now use simplified procedures for soliciting and evaluating bids up to $100,000. Government agencies, however, are still required to advertise all planned purchases over $25,000 in www.FedBizOpps.gov.

Sealed Bidding

Sealed bidding is how the government contracts competitively when its requirements are clear, accurate and complete. An Invitation For Bid (IFB) is the method used for the sealed bid process. Typically, an IFB includes a description of the product or service to be acquired, instructions for preparing a bid, the conditions for purchase, packaging, delivery, shipping and payment, contract clauses to be included and the deadline for submitting bids. Each sealed bid is opened in public at the purchasing office at the time designated in the invitation. All bids are read aloud and recorded. A contract is then awarded by the agency to the low bidder who is determined to be responsive to the government's needs. Government-wide FBs are available daily for review at www.FedBizOpps.gov. This electronic government service also provides a direct link to the invitation.

Contracting officials search the SBA's Procurement and Marketing Access Network (PRO-Net) to identify qualified small business contractors. Therefore, any small business that wants to sell to the government should be registered on SBA's PRO-Net.

Government Contract Negotiation

In certain cases, when the value of a government contract exceeds $100,000 and when it necessitates a highly technical product or service, the government may issue a Request for Proposal (RFP). In a typical RFP, the government will request a product or service it needs, and solicit proposals from prospective contractors on how they intend to carry out that request, and at what price. Proposals in response to an RFP can be subject to negotiation after they have been submitted.

When the government is merely checking into the possibility of acquiring a product or service, it may issue a Request for Quotation (RFQ). A response to an RFQ by a prospective contractor is not considered an offer, and consequently, cannot be accepted by the government to form a binding contract. The order is an offer by the government to the supplier to buy certain supplies or services upon specified terms and conditions. A contract is established when a supplier accepts the offer.

Contracting officials search the SBA's Procurement and Marketing Access Network (PRO-Net) to identify qualified small business contractors. Therefore, any small business that wants to sell to the government should be registered on SBA's PRO-Net.

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