So You Want to Sell to the Federal Government
In trying to locate the specific number of a VA station for a member, I ran across the above document of VA facility addresses, identification numbers and territorial jurisdictions that would be helpful to any business that invoices local VA facilities. It is an older document, but the facility station numbers have not changed. Your contract or order number usually starts with the station facility number, so this document will help locate which station is responsible for payment. Not all local facilities pay their own invoices, however; some are paid by a different facility.
The U.S. Federal Government is one of the largest buyers of goods and services worldwide. There are three main categories of federal purchases:
- Full and Open Competition: Procurements open for bid from all allowable sources.
- Set-Asides: Purchases "set-aside" or reserved for small businesses, HUBZone, service disabled veteran-owned or 8(a).
- Sole-Source: Negotiating with one firm.
First Things First
Obtain a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number. A DUNS number can be obtained free-of-charge at time of CCR registration.
Register Your Business
Businesses must be registered with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) before any federal buyer can accept a bid. Your business must update your CCR information yearly for your number to stay valid. This does not include state or local government procurement. This system is used by federal buyers to obtain vital information about your business and make payments, and helps all buyers locate you. After registering in the CCR, you will want to click on "Dynamic Small Business Search" and register as a small business. This will then become your company profile. All potential buyers access this system to locate firms. It tells the buyer the basic information about your company. Therefore it is critical you keep your profile updated and make sure your user ID and password is available to more than one person.
There are two types of certificates: self and formal.
- For small businesses, women owned small businesses and service disabled veteran-owned small businesses, self-certification is necessary. That means you are certifying that you have read and understand the eligibility criteria and are certifying that you qualify. The SBA publishes small business size standards (13CFR121) that apply specifically to eligibility for small business contracts.
- When you register in the CCR and apply for formal certifications, you will select a primary industry code upon which your size for a specific application is determined. Be aware that each federal procurement set-aside for a small business program carries a size standard related to the product/services being purchased and bidders must qualify under that standard regardless of their primary code.
All bidders and federal contracting officers may and should protest the award of a small business contract when they have evidence that a self-certifying bidder does not qualify.
- DoD Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Office: www.acq.osd.mil/sadbu
- Small Business Development Centers: www.sba.gov/content/small-business-development-centers-sbdcs
- Central Contractor Registration Database: www.ccr.gov
- Data Universal Numbers System: www.smallbusiness.dnb.com/establish/12137020-1.html
- Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA): https://orca.bpn.gov/
Do You Have the Following Helpful Resources?
USDA - Office of Chief Financial Officer
Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) That You Should Know
Subpart 8.4: Federal Supply Schedules
Part 13: Simplified Acquisitions
Part 14: Sealed Bidding
Part 15: Contracting by Negotiation
Part 19: Small Business Programs
Attempting to do business with the federal government without knowledge of the FAR can have grave consequences.