The federal government is serious about working with small businesses. That’s why it offers so many resources dedicated to helping small and disadvantaged businesses find federal procurement contracting opportunities.
The Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website lists all open contracting opportunities over $25,000 across multiple federal government agencies. While on FedBizOpps, you can create an account and have your own custom “My FBO” home page with Quick Links, Quick Search, 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 it's own annual Forecast of Contracting Opportunities, a list of anticipated procurement opportunities for the current fiscal year (October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018). Also review the GSA Forecast Tool User Guide [PDF - 76 KB] which provides tips on how to use the tool and take advantage of its features.
Many vendors find subcontracting a preferable route to getting experience as a federal contractor. Large business prime contractors with contracts expected to exceed $700,000 (or exceeding $1.5M for construction), except small businesses, are required to subcontract some of the work 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 subcontractor to hold a Schedules contract. When a small business receives a subcontract from a larger prime contractor, the vetting process is done by the prime, not by 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) where it is required. See the SBA Socioeconomic Certification information block on 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 prime contractors to assist small businesses in performing successfully as a federal vendor in future contracts and subcontracts. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is responsible for the 8(a) Mentor-Protege' Program and the All Small Mentor-Protege' Program. Refer to the Mentor-Protégé section of the OSBU site for status on the GSA program, with links to the specific SBA site for each program.
Participating mentor firms select qualified small businesses to be protégés. The relationship is most often built upon successful partnering as a subcontractor to a prime. The two firms meet and work out a plan of action, focusing on the areas of development for the protégé. A formal agreement and application is drafted and submitted to the Mentor-Protégé Program Manager at the SBA. Once approved for the SBA Mentor-Protege' Program, the mentor and protege' team can form a joint venture and compete under the size status of the protege'. The SBA approved M-P teams are the only exclusion from the affiliation rule in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 19.101.