Each agency i.e. NASA or Department of Energy uses the Internet to post their “forecasts” which can go out as far as five years of opportunities. The format for the forecasts will range from each agency but all will indicate the contract period, amount and contract type i.e. full and open, small business set aside, or SBA 8a or service or good via the NAICS code. The Treasury department makes it real easy as they also put the point of contact from the procurement office and the name of the current contractor. This allows you to gather information a lot easier.
Review these forecasts and identify contracts that you are interested and then you can contact the agency and ideally seek to meet with the small business representative, contracting officer and the actually buying group i.e. facilities or IT. This will introduce your company to these people and allows you to learn what they seek in a service or goods provider as well as determine any current issues or concerns so you can find out how to discriminate your product or service when you respond to a formal RFP.
There is an electronic medium that most procurements are placed on the web for all federal agencies called “Federal Business Opportunities.” Their official website is www.fbo.gov You can search for current and past procurements. You want to use it also as a means to identify contracts that are at least two years away from expiration. It requires time to perform effective business development to introduce your company, understand the customer, know the competition, form teams, and find the ideal manager for the contract to lead the service or delivery of goods as they will be your single point of contact for the customer and to understand the cost issues.
Use Fed Biz Opps for “sources sought” as you can sign up by your NAICS codes and preferred agencies. Sources sought are equal to a Request for Information where the agency is seeking marketing information i.e. can a small business perform the work that may be currently operated by a large company like Raytheon. Respond to these as they only require a capability statement tailored to the agency and opportunity. This is a way of selling your company early at a low cost and also influencing the agency’s decision to go small business for the opportunity.
Do not wait to respond to RFPs issued via email via Fed Biz Opps as that is too late. All of your credible competition has been tracking the opportunity for at least a year, made visit or two or more to the customer so they are known and have identified the factors that may help them win. You would be bidding without any homework being done and the chances would be slim of you winning whether you sell goods or services as both require the gathering of information to be responsive.
This is a major topic and this will be followed by several other postings.