SMALL BUSINESS & FEDERAL CONTRACTING: A GUIDE TO CONTRACTING, SUB-CONTRACTING AND UNSOLICITED PROPOSALS

A Guide to Contracting, Sub-Contracting and Unsolicited Proposals

Each year, the government hands out billions of dollars worth of contracts to contractors around the US to provide critical services to a variety of Federal agencies. From the NSA to the IRS and the DoD, the government is deeply involved with private contractors and utilizes them to perform a variety of functions, including:

• Defense contracting

• Training

• Architect-engineering

• Custodial services

• Guard supplies and equipment

• Operation

• Telecommunications

• IT services

• Advisory services

• Maintenance

• and a variety of other product or service-based opportunities

And all of these contracts can be a massive boon for businesses who are savvy enough to swoop in and claim them. It’s important to note that these contracts aren’t only won by massive contracting companies who leverage high-value assets and lots of people power. Over 20% of the federal contracting budget is awarded to small businesses (to the tune of $105.7 billion.)

Here is a quick guide to help your business get started on the journey towards winning government contracts.

1. Understanding Contracting and Subcontracting

Getting government contracts relies on finding ways to leverage your skills and assets in a way that resonates with federal goals. You can start your research by going to SAM.gov (formerly FBO.gov) and registering for an account.

From here, you’ll be able to browse available federal contracts and research federal contract needs. The government takes a variety of factors into account when they award bidding — including specific socioeconomic needs and the strength of submitted resumes.

Businesses looking to score government contracts can get them either directly (via the SAM.gov website) or through other contracts in a process known as subcontracting. Subcontractors will submit proposals to the business that successfully captured the original government contract. During both of these contracting processes, it’s vital that your proposal is air-tight. Since your proposal is your foot-in-the-door, having a well-written proposal that successfully articulates your strengths and business advantages can help your business secure lucrative contracts.

2. Understanding Government Contracts and Proposals

Unlike bids — which are used to procure a fixed service and price is the primary strength factor — proposals are open-ended submissions for contracts. When you input a proposal, the government isn’t only looking at your price; they want to know if you have the capabilities to accomplish the job and what advantages and unique skills your business can provide to them.

You can submit proposals directly through the SAM.gov website for requested contracts. Or, you can submit unsolicited proposals — which is an offer of novel goods and services to the government without request. In a sense, an unsolicited proposal is an offer to the government for your services and a list of reasons why those services would be beneficial to an agency.

Most government agencies with varying rules and structures will accept unsolicited proposals, including:

• IRS 

• NSA

• NASA

• The Department of Energy

• The Department of Transportation

3. How to Win Contracts With Proposals and Unsolicited Proposals

Winning government contracts is hinged to your ability to write a proposal. When you browse offers on SAM.gov, you’re entering a bullpen of other companies looking to leverage these contracts to grow. You have to create compelling proposals that go above-and-beyond and clearly define value, strengths, capabilities, and your business’s advantage over your competitors.

Of course, you can opt to submit unsolicited proposals, which are novel — giving you the advantage of reduced competition chasing a single specific contract. FAR 2.101 defines unsolicited proposals as “a written proposal for a new or innovative idea that is submitted to an agency on the initiative of the offeror for the purpose of obtaining a contract with the Government, and that is not in response to a request for proposals or announcements.”

Unsolicited proposals are heavily reliant on the ability to prove that you are providing a “unique and innovative concept” to the government. This can be incredibly difficult to do without the right verbiage and articulation.

Are You Looking to Win More Government Contracts?

Submitting high-quality proposals is the key to winning contracts over your competitors. You need the right technical tone and articulation to prove your business advantage on paper. If you are looking for a subcontractor in the area of technical writing for Federal Government contracting, please call Valerie Mullins, Communications Consultant at (301) 390-5620 or email info@insyncvisions.com