The federal government is serious about working with small businesses. That’s why it offers so many resources dedicated to helping businesses find federal procurement contracts.
The Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website lists all open contracting opportunities over $25,000 across the federal government. There, you can create an account and have your own custom “My FBO” home page with Quicklinks, Quicksearch, and instructional videos.
FBO also offers the Vendor Collaboration Central Event Listing, which allows small businesses to find and participate in federal agency collaboration or engagement opportunities. The Small Business Events for Outreach and Training publishes events across the country from many agencies and organizations.
Forecast of Contracting Opportunities
GSA also offers its Forecast of Contracting Opportunities, a list of anticipated procurement activities for the current fiscal year (October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018). Before using the Forecast, be sure to watch OSBU’s two short videos: Overview and Using the Forecast.
Many vendors find subcontracting a preferable route to getting experience as a federal contractor. Large dollar value contracts ($150,000 and greater) require prime contractors to subcontract some of the value to eligible small businesses. This is an excellent way to test the waters of federal business without suffering undue risk.
Another advantage is that subcontracting doesn’t require a vendor to hold a Schedules contract. When a small business subcontracts to a larger or prime contractor, the vetting process is done by the prime, not GSA.
If you’re unfamiliar with subcontracting at GSA or want an overview of the topic, refer to the Partnering, Subcontracting section of the OSBU site.
In addition to small business set-aside subcontracting opportunities, qualified small businesses that meet various socioeconomic criteria are eligible to compete for additional set-aside opportunities after obtaining certification from the Small Business Administration (SBA). See the SBA Socioeconomic Certification information block to the right of the page and note the following set-aside categories:
- 8(a) Small Business
- Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Small Business
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)
- Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
Mentor Protégé Program
This program’s goal is to encourage and motivate GSA prime contractors to assist small businesses in performing successfully as a federal vendor in future contracts and subcontracts.
Participating mentor firms select qualified small businesses to be protégés. The two firms meet and work out a plan of action, focusing on the areas of development for the protégé. A formal agreement is drafted and submitted to the Mentor-Protégé Program Manager. After review with the Mentor’s Contracting Officer, a decision is made to accept or reject the request.
Read the Mentor-Protégé section of the OSBU site for complete details and forms/paperwork.