Is Government Contracting Easy Money?
A simple scan of the news on any given day reveals that government contracting can be a lucrative business. “Cray Scores $174M Supercomputer Contract From NNSA,” “DHS Awards $190 Million Contract to Background Check Firm,” and “CGI Federal selected as prime contractor for 10-year, multi-billion dollar GSA OASIS contract” are just a few recent examples.
The Government Has Needs, Too
The government is incapable of self-producing all of the goods and services that it needs so it turns to private companies to assist in filling in the gaps. The result is a large contribution to the country’s GDP, typically between 10-15% of the total. There are a number of unique issues that government contracting raises that aren't considered in private contracts. The government must ensure that taxpayer money is utilized effectively and that the risk of corruption is minimized (i.e. contracts are not awarded as “favors” to political friends).
These are important responsibilities of our government, and the failure to live up to them significantly undermines the government’s credibility. To fulfill these responsibilities to the public, a complex system of local, state, and federal laws has been put in place and continues to be modified and updated as circumstances change.
We recommend working with experienced government contracting attorneys who can advise and advocate for your small or large business. Additionally, the following are some tips that will help increase your likelihood of winning contracts:
- Identify and Understand Your Market – Your business is not competing in government contracting for every type of good or service in every state and at every level of government. Define what you are competing for, what market you are chasing and gain a basic understanding of the laws and regulations related to that market. For example, the laws you need to know if you would like to supply to VA hospitals with medical supplies are very different from the laws you need to know if you are competing for a contract to audit the welds for a Las Vegas construction project.
- Check for New Opportunities – This sounds obvious, and perhaps it should be check for new opportunities before you need them. One day per week, you should check the relevant government website to see if any new requests for proposals have been added. The federal site is fedbizopps.gov, and most other governmental entities have similar sites, some run by third parties. Remember, government needs and schedules don’t always align with yours, so check before you need the work. This will help you develop a pipeline of business.
- Be Organized and Prepared – If organization and information gathering is not your strength, hire someone. The small expense up-front expense can significantly increase your likelihood of landing the contract you are seeking and result in large financial benefits. Following the exact requirements for submitting your bid to a given governmental entity and being prepared for the possibility of pre-award surveys are crucial yet often missed steps.
- Not Just Price – Historically, the lowest bid on a particular project routinely won the contract. Times are changing as and more emphasis is being placed on reviewing quality of goods or services. Terms like “performance based” and “best value” have begun to replace “low bid.”
The government contracting attorneys at Whitcomb Law, P.C. can help you navigate the legal labyrinth. Contact us today.
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