In 2012, the federal government spent approximately $500 billion in contracts with private companies. With roughly 14% of the federal budget spent on private-sector contracts, there are resources in place within the federal government to assist small businesses seeking a contract.
At the agency level, there is a small business specialist. This person is knowledgeable of the agency’s planned contracts. He or she can act as a liaison to the principal parties involved in the process. They are the contracting officer (CO) and the contracting officer’s technical representative (COTR or COR). The CO is the only person authorized to commit funds and execute a contract. The COTR is the lead technical person and is generally most familiar with the project or work to be completed.
The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) mission is to assist small businesses seeking federal contracts. The SBA Procurement Center Representative (PCR) is usually assigned to a specific agency or region. The PCR reviews pending contract opportunities and can make recommendations to the contracting officer regarding the acquisition strategy if he or she feels that small businesses are not being appropriately considered or represented.
While the federal infrastructure supports small business participation in federal contracts, it is important that the small business take the necessary steps to optimize its contracting opportunities. To begin with, it must clearly define its mission and niche. Its marketing materials must be tailored accordingly. It must also target its marketing efforts to the agencies who most frequently contract for the niche supply or service. Then, it comes down to networking, teaming, and persistence. Whether it’s a simplified acquisition or a subcontracting opportunity, the company must be prepared for success to come in small increments. Positive past performance reviews on other projects can help pave the way for future contracts.