How do I locate federal government contracting opportunities?

The government is in the market to acquire just about anything and everything, from major weapon systems to personal computers, and construction to security services. The government typically issues a written or electronic solicitation that identifies the government's requirements and invites firms to submit proposals in response.

One way that firms may become aware of such solicitations is through daily monitoring of the Commerce Business Daily (CBD). The Department of Commerce publishes five or six daily editions of the CBD weekly, as necessary. Within the CBD, federal agencies, with a few exceptions, are required to briefly describe upcoming solicitations and proposed contract actions expected to exceed $25,000. The descriptions are broken down by topics, e.g., social services, maintenance, repair, and rebuilding of equipment, etc. The government also uses the CBD to make special announcements regarding upcoming conferences and seminars that may be of interest to firms wishing to contract with the government and which may provide strong networking possibilities.

The CBD may be reviewed on their website or by subscription for a cost of either $324 (1st class mailing) or $275 a year (2nd class mailing). Those interested in subscribing should contact the government Printing Office at (202) 518-1800.

Another way to locate contracting opportunities is to contact government procurement components directly and request to be placed on relevant solicitation mailing lists. Firms should expend the time and resources to discern their target market and establish a line of communication with their potential government clients. This process may include conducting telephone/direct mail surveys, sending newsletters, and establishing a presence at seminars and trade shows. Similar strategies may be used to obtain subcontracts with prime contractors on government contracts. Firms should monitor the success or non success of a marketing and attempt to keep their finger on the pulse of their customers. A comprehensive listing of federal agency web sites that list procurement opportunities may be accessed online as well.