By April Finnen (@AprilFin), DynPort Vaccine Company LLC (@dynport)
My boss likes to say “You don’t know what you don’t know.” This is particularly true in government contracting. The Federal market is large, but entry can be daunting due to the seemingly endless string of requirements and documentation.
So, where can you start? A variety of resources on government contracting are available online. Some, like the Fort Detrick Business Development Office (FDBO) and Tech Council of Maryland, offer inexpensive or free introductory courses periodically. (FBDO is offering a free Introduction to Federal Contracting on July 21 in Frederick, Md.)
Another way to learn more is by attending procurement fairs, such as SMART PROC, where you can connect with government procurement officials. Procurement fairs are also useful if you’re interested in working with larger companies that hold prime contracts. These prime contractors often work with subcontractors to complete various pieces of the work, and they can help you learn the lingo. Plus, many of them are required to work with small or otherwise disadvantaged businesses to meet government requirements.
Subcontracting to a prime contractor is a good way to enter into government contracting without necessarily overhauling your business systems to comply with regulations. Timekeeping, billing and finance are just a few of the systems you must have set up a certain way and government-approved to contract directly. In certain cases, depending on the contract value, you may even be required to have an approved Earned Value Management System (EVMS), which is not a fast or cheap endeavor.
Before you start your government contracting journey, you’ll need to:
You’ll also need to know where to find opportunities: FedBizOpps. A search of this central repository can give you an idea of the government’s needs in your field, and what might be required for a successful bid.
However you proceed, be advised that patience is key; expect to wait months—longer for more complex opportunities—before contract winners are notified. Start slowly, and preferably work with a mentor or business partner who can help you along the way.
DynPort Vaccine Company LLC (DVC) specializes in government contracting in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. DVC offers government contracting links and a free newsletter including government contracting topics.
Website: www.csc.com/dvc | Twitter: @dynport