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Using Data to Bid on Local Government Contracts

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Winning contracts from the government can be intimidating. This may especially be the case when you own a small business. There are programs and opportunities to help you win bids on government contracts. Below you will find data and resources to help guide you on how to bid on local government contracts.

Federal Contract Budget

In 2019, the U.S. government spent $6.9 trillion with much of it, 16.62%, allocated to the Department of Defense. In the fiscal year 2018, federal agencies obligated nearly $900 billion to federal contracts. Of that, nearly $500 billion was spent on Contractual Services and Supplies. The DOD relies on contractors to provide the U.S. military with goods and services that include weapons, vehicles, food, uniforms, and operational support.

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Set Asides

Set-asides are the portion of federal contracts that must be awarded to small businesses. The federal government allocates 23 percent of its contract work to small businesses. Women-owned businesses (WOBs) are small businesses with at least 51% of it owned, controlled, and managed by one or more women who are U.S. citizens. The federal government sets aside 5 percent of its federal contract awards to WOBs. The allocation to small businesses also includes the 8(a) Business Development Program which sets aside 5 percent of the U.S. federal government contract budget to businesses owned by members of economically or disadvantaged groups. This program is intended to help organizations owned by members of minority groups to be competitive in the government contracting market. Service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB) are businesses whereby service-disabled veterans or a caregiver own and control 51% or more of a business. They receive 3% of the federal contracting budget. Historically Underutilized Business Zone Small Businesses (HUBZone) provides contracting assistance to small businesses in economically distressed communities.

The HUBZone program was implemented to “promote job growth, capital investment and economic development in these areas, including Indian reservations.” HUBZone-certified businesses receive a 10 percent price evaluation preference in contact competitions. The U.S. government has the goal of awarding 3 percent of its federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified companies.

The federal government has gradually increased its contracts awards to small businesses. The 2018 fiscal year was the first-time small businesses were awarded more than $100 billion in government contracts. The 2019 fiscal year was the sixth consecutive year the federal government exceeded its small business federal contracting goal. A federal study conducted by the Minority Business Development Agency in in 2017 indicated the government awarded $25.4 billion in federal contracts to WOSBs. It is only five percent of the budget allotted to federal contracts, but it has gradually increased since 2008 when it was only $17.6 billion

Invest to Prepare for Government Contracts

Contractors have increased spending to secure government contracts over time. In 2012, small -business contractors spent an average of $128,6238 to compete in the federal sector. This was a 40 percent increase from what contractors spent in 2009. WOSBs spent an average of $112,000 to prepare for government contracts, while those owned by men invested more with an average of $137,000. Winning a government contract takes a lot of work, but it is an investment that will help you sustain your business during economic downturns in the commercial sector.


Small businesses that contract with the government generate 19% of their revenue from the federal government. A smaller percentage, 14%, comes from state and local contracts. Experts suggest diversifying clients so contractors will not be as severely impacted when one of the agencies makes budget cuts.

Persistence Pays

Small business contractors have reported they had to submit an average of 4.4 bids before they won their first federal contract. Two-thirds of small business contractors have worked on more than one federal contract. It took them an average of 11 ½ months after their first contract award to win their second. The lesson from this data is to not be discouraged. It takes time and patience to succeed in government contracting.

To find out the type of opportunities available to your company, visit https://www.usaspending.gov/#/explorer. The site provides information on budget, government spending, and spending grouped by the types of items and services purchased by the federal government. For more help and information on government contracts, contact Whitcomb Selinsky PC by phone at (866) 476-4558 or online by booking a free assessment below.

About the AuthorJoe Whitcomb

Joe Whitcomb is the founder and president of Whitcomb, Selinsky, PC (WSM). In addition, he manages the firm and heads up the Government Procurement and International Business Transactions Law sections. As a result of his military service as a U.S. Army Ranger and as a non-commissioned officer in the Air Force, he learned mission accomplishment. While serving in the Air Force, he earned his Bachelor’s in Social Sciences and a Master’s in International Relations. His Master’s emphasis was on National Security and International Political Economics. After his military career, Joe attended law school at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.