When working on your Business Development Strategy for Government Contracting it is vital to position yourself to win Government contracts. There are many strategic ways to do this, especially if you are a Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) or Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). Your status as a VOSB or SDVOSB is a great start for increasing your chances of winning contracts.
North American Industry Classification System
Proper preparation is key to everything and this also applies to government contracting. Let’s start by gathering all the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes that apply to your business. Once you have gathered these codes go to the Internet, open a search engine and type in USASpending.gov. Congress wanted a transparent way for the public to be able to see where the taxpayer’s money was being spent. The result was this website.
There are many uses for USASpending website. We will only discuss one way to use this database in this article. Using the Advanced Search feature, you can select fiscal year, NAICS code, your geographical area, and your set-aside SDVOSB or VOSB. Run the report and you will see the contracts award for this time period. More than likely, a variety of agencies will be shown. These are the agencies that match your criteria. Check out the contracts and see which ones match your business. These are the agencies that you will want to market too.
System for Award Management (SAM)
Before marketing make sure that your certification is listed in the System for Award Management (SAM) database. This is the only requirement for all agencies except the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA requires you to certify through the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE). This can be time and resource consuming and the competition for work with the VA is extremely high.
The process for registering your business with the VA will be changing soon as the Small Business Administration (SBA) is to take over the certification process from the VA next year. We will keep you updated on this as soon as we hear something official.
The obvious advantage of bidding as a VOSB/SDVOSB is the reduced competition as only those businesses can compete on these contracts. In addition, all Federal Agencies are required to set-aside 3% of their prime contracts to VOSB/SDVOSB contractors or approximately $15 Billion.
There are also subcontracting opportunities available to VOSB/SDVOSB. Any contract awarded to a large business greater than $700,000 must have a subcontracting plan. (non-construction contracts) For construction contractors any contract awarded to a large business greater than $1.5 Million must have a subcontracting plan. The set-aside thresholds tend to be greater than the 3% set-aside for prime contracts.
SBA is responsible for reporting the set-aside numbers for each agency to Congress each year. They will release this information to the public and it is readily available on their website. In fiscal year 2017, the federal agencies exceeded the SDVOSB prime goals according to the SBA. This is great news for Veterans as the Agencies are taking these set-aside numbers seriously.
There is a little secret that I am going to share with you. Federal Agencies have procurement forecast and these documents are usually available on their websites. By searching the Internet for each Agency’s forecast, you can see what that agency is planning for the current fiscal year. Agencies tend to have set-asides already earmarked on these forecasts. By searching for these forecasts early allows you the time to see which requirements match your business strengths. Also, the agency representative is also listed so you have someone to market too.
This brings me to the next step that SDVOSBs need to add to their business development strategy. Make sure that your Capability Statement is up to date. You will want to have a different Capability Statement for each Agency and procurement. This is especially important when meeting with Small Business Specialists or Contracting Officers. You need to build rapport with the Agency that you want to do business with. This is not a meet you once and think you are done. You need to follow up and remind them that you are here. Now this may seem obvious, but I will say it anyways. Do not start off the conversation by saying where is my contract I am a VOSB/SDVOSB. This is not going to help build the rapport that we were talking about earlier. Your status is one of the last things to tell them. They are more interested in your past performance and the work that you are presently performing.
Now a lot of contractors will automatically target the Department of Defense (DoD) because they have the largest pool of money for set-asides. This may not be the best strategy especially if you are just starting out in government contracting. There may be other agencies that have more urgent needs for SDVOSB contractors. It is also easier to get contracts with smaller agencies and build your past performance up before venturing into DoD. Especially, if you are in the construction industry and your bonding is less than $1 million.
It is essential for you to select an agency that has requirements that match your specialty and that you can demonstrate the strongest past performance. It is not advisable to chase irrelevant opportunities or to blindly bid on any opportunity.
When seeking new business from Government Agencies, having the designation of VOSB or SDVOSB puts you at a competitive advantage. It is relatively easy to obtain these designations when the business criteria are met. There are good sources available online to determine which Government Agencies may have a stronger need for products or services based on their performance goals.