Government Contracting 101

·13 min read
Cover Image for Government Contracting 101

Did You Know the U.S. Federal Government is the World's Largest Buyer?

Each year, the government awards billions of dollars in federal contracts to businesses to meet the need of government agencies. But how do you get a government contract? If you are considering joining the world of government contracting, there’s a lot of information to know. Sometimes it can be confusing to figure out where to start. However, with the right guidance and understanding of the process you can take advantage of the opportunities available. In this blog, we will cover the essential steps to get started, including how to find contract opportunities, the application process, and tips for successfully securing and managing government contracts.

Section 1: Understanding Government Contracting

Understanding Government Contracting

What is Government Contracting?

Government contracting is the process businesses enter into agreements with government agencies to provide goods, services, or works. These contracts are typically governed by a set of rules and regulations designed to ensure fairness, transparency, and efficiency in the procurement process. Government contracting can provide significant opportunities for businesses, including large contracts, consistent work, and substantial financial returns.

Types of Government Contracts

Understanding Government Contracting

Government contracts come in various forms, each designed to meet specific procurement needs. Here are some of the primary types of government contracts:

Fixed-Price Contracts:

In this type of contract, the government and the contractor agree on a set price for the completion of a project. This price is established at the beginning of the contract and does not change regardless of the costs incurred by the contractor.

Cost-Reimbursement Contracts:

These contracts are designed to cover the costs incurred by the contractor, plus an additional fee or profit. Cost-reimbursement contracts are suitable for projects where it is difficult to estimate the extent of resources required or the cost involved in delivering the services or goods.

Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts:

IDIQ contracts provide for an indefinite quantity of supplies or services during a fixed period. The exact quantities and delivery schedules are not specified at the time of the contract award but are defined as needed throughout the term of the contract. IDIQ contracts are useful for projects where the government anticipates a need for varying amounts of services or products over time, providing flexibility for both parties.

You can read more details about the different type of government contracts here.

Why Pursue Government Contracts?

Pursuing government contracts can be a game-changer for your business, these contracts not only provide financial stability and growth but also enhance your business's credibility and open doors to exclusive projects. Here's why getting involved in government contracting can be a smart move for your business:

Steady and reliable income

Government contracts can provide a stable and consistent source of revenue for your business. Once you’ve secured a contract, you can rely on timely payments and a steady cash flow, which can help you better manage your financial resources and plan for the future.

Long-term relationships

Many government contracts are awarded for multiple years, allowing you to establish a long-term relationship with the government agency. This can lead to repeat business and increased opportunities for your company, as the agency becomes more familiar with your products or services and trusts your ability to deliver.

Access to a large market

The government is one of the largest buyers of goods and services in the world, and pursuing government contracts can open up a vast market for your business. This can lead to increased sales, growth, and expansion opportunities, as you tap into a diverse and ever-growing customer base.

Enhanced reputation

Winning a government contract can significantly boost your company’s reputation and credibility in your industry. This can make it easier for you to secure new clients, attract top talent, and obtain financing for future projects.

Section 2: Steps to Enter Government Contracting

First you need to lay the groundwork. You can’t just jump right into a federal contract—you need to do some groundwork first. In order to qualify for any federal government opportunity, you will need to be registered in the System for Award Management, or SAM, and receive a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI).

1. Obtain a DUNS number

DUNS registration

What is a D-U-N-S Number?

The D-U-N-S (Data Universal Numbering System) number is a unique identifier for businesses, issued by Dun & Bradstreet. It’s used by the federal government to keep track of entities it does business with.

How to Obtain a D-U-N-S Number

Visit the Dun & Bradstreet website and navigate to the section for obtaining a D-U-N-S number. You can apply online, and in most cases, you will receive your D-U-N-S number within a few business days. There is no charge for obtaining a D-U-N-S number.

Importance of the D-U-N-S Number

This number is required for your business to register in the System for Award Management (, which is essential for bidding on federal contracts.

2. Detailed Process for Registration

What is

The System for Award Management (SAM) is the official government system where businesses register to do business with the federal government.

Steps to Register in

  • Create a User Account: Start by creating a user account on the SAM website. user registration

  • Complete the Entity Registration: Fill out the entity registration form, providing information about your business, including your D-U-N-S number, business size, type of business, and other details. registration

During the SAM registration process, you will need to choose the NAICS codes that best describe your business activities. You can find the NAICS code relevant to your business here. Make sure to select all relevant codes as this helps match your business with the appropriate government contract opportunities.

  • Financial Information: You will need to provide banking information for payments.

  • Submit and Await Confirmation: After submission, your registration will be reviewed. You will receive confirmation when your registration is approved.

Why SAM Registration is Crucial:

Registration in SAM is mandatory to participate in federal contracting. It ensures that your business is eligible to receive government contracts and grants.

Certifications and Qualifications

Certifications and qualifications play a crucial role in government contracting, as they provide access to specific programs, and qualify a business for targeted opportunities. Here’s an in-depth overview of some key certifications and qualifications:

SBA Certifications

8(a) Business Development Program

Purpose: Designed to help small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals gain access to the federal procurement market.

Benefits:: Includes training, mentoring, and financial assistance. 8(a) certified firms can also receive sole-source contracts under certain conditions, providing a competitive advantage in the federal contracting space.

Eligibility:: Applicants must demonstrate social and economic disadvantage, be a small business under SBA size standards, and meet other specific criteria.

HUBZone Certification

Purpose: Targets businesses located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones, aiming to promote economic development in these areas.

Benefits: HUBZone certified companies receive preference in the federal contracting process, particularly in contracts set aside for HUBZone businesses.

Eligibility: The business must be small, owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, and located in a HUBZone. At least 35% of the company’s employees must reside in a HUBZone.

Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Certification

Purpose: Supports women-owned businesses in participating in federal contracting by providing access to contracts specifically set aside for WOSBs.

Benefits: Provides opportunities to compete for federal contracts set aside for women-owned small businesses.

Eligibility: The business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens. It must also meet the SBA’s small business size standards for its primary industry.

Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)

This certification assists businesses owned by service-disabled veterans in gaining preferential access to federal contracts.

Purpose: To provide opportunities for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses to compete for federal contracts.

Benefits: Access to exclusive set-aside contracts for SDVOSBs.

Eligibility: Businesses must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans who are U.S. citizens. The business must also meet the SBA’s size standards for its primary industry.

These certifications and qualifications are valuable tools for businesses looking to expand into government contracting. They provide access to specific government contracts and programs designed to support small and disadvantaged businesses.

Section 3: Starting Your Government Contracting Business

Identifying Contract Opportunities

Identifying contract opportunities in government contracting can significantly boost your business. Using the right resources and setting up alerts are crucial steps in staying informed and competitive. Here’s how you can effectively navigate this process:

Using Government Databases


How to use it:

Step 1: Access

Visit, a comprehensive database for U.S. government contracts and grants, essential for businesses seeking federal contracts.

Step 2: Utilize the Search Function

On the homepage, click the "Search" function. You do not need to log in or register to search for contracting opportunities.

Step 3: Select the Correct Domain

In the search function, ensure you select "Contract Opportunities" to filter your search to include only available contracting opportunities.

Step 4: Refine Your Search with Specific Codes

Narrow your search by selecting the Product Service Code (PSC) and the NAICS code. You can find the NAICS code relevant to your business here.

Step 5: Explore the Opportunities

The search results will list potential contracts that fit your criteria. Each listing provides detailed information, including the scope of the contract, submission deadlines, and contact details for the government officials handling the procurement. Take the time to review each opportunity to assess which contracts align best with your business capabilities and objectives.

Alternatively, you can use samsearch smart search to easily find pressure washing contracts.

2.GSA Schedules (Multiple Award Schedules)

What it is: The General Services Administration (GSA) Schedules provide pre-negotiated contracts with commercial companies that supply federal, state, and local government buyers with access to a wide range of commercial products and services at volume discount pricing.

How to use it: If your business has a GSA Schedule, list your products or services on the GSA eLibrary to make them searchable by government buyers. Regularly update your offerings to reflect current availability and pricing. Monitor GSA Advantage! and GSA eBuy for requests for quotations and offers from government buyers.

Other Relevant Databases

State and Local Government Websites: Many state and local governments have their own procurement websites where they post contract opportunities. Consult this blog to see a list of all all state procurement websites.

Setting Up and Optimizing Alerts for Contract Opportunities

Set Up Alerts on

How to Set Up:

  1. Log into your account.

  2. Set up customized searches based on your business’s capabilities, preferred industries, and geographical areas.

  3. Use the "Search Criteria" features to refine your search for contract opportunities that match your business profile.

  4. Enable email notifications to receive alerts for new contracts that match your criteria. This ensures you don't miss out on relevant opportunities.

Monitor GSA eBuy

  1. Regular Checks: Regularly check GSA eBuy for Requests for Quotations (RFQs) and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) posted by federal buyers.

  2. Alerts Setup: Consider setting up alerts or regularly visiting GSA eBuy to stay updated on new opportunities.

Review and Respond Promptly

  1. Timeliness: Government procurement processes can be time-sensitive. Ensure that you review contract opportunities promptly and respond within the specified deadlines.

  2. Thoroughness: Carefully read through all the requirements and ensure your responses are complete and compliant with the solicitation's terms.

Mastering proposal writing

Mastering proposal writing

After identifying relevant opportunities through, the next critical step in the government contracting process is mastering proposal writing. Crafting a compelling and compliant proposal is essential for winning contracts. Here's how you can excel in proposal writing, understand evaluation criteria, and learn from successful case studies.

How to Write Compelling Proposals

  • Understand the Solicitation: Thoroughly read the solicitation to grasp the requirements, objectives, and evaluation criteria. Ensure that your proposal addresses all the stipulated needs. Samsearch offers many features like solicitation summarization and chat that help easily understand the solicitation.

  • Comply with Requirements: Adhere strictly to all administrative requirements, including format, page limits, and submission guidelines, to avoid disqualification.

  • Tailor Your Proposal: Customize your proposal to align with the specific needs and objectives of the government agency, highlighting how your solution meets their needs.

  • Clear and Concise Writing: Use clear, concise language to describe your approach, capabilities, and qualifications. Avoid jargon to ensure your proposal is easily understood.

  • Strengthen with Evidence: Support your claims with evidence such as past performance examples, references, and data to build credibility.

  • Cost Proposal: Provide a detailed and justified cost proposal that aligns with the scope of work and demonstrates your ability to deliver within budget.

  • Review and Edit: Carefully review your proposal to eliminate errors and ensure coherence. Having someone else review it can also provide valuable feedback.

Understanding Evaluation Criteria

  • Identify Key Evaluation Criteria: Determine the evaluation criteria used to assess your proposal, as outlined in the solicitation documents.

  • Address Each Criterion: Directly address each criterion in your proposal to show how your solution meets or exceeds the agency's requirements.

  • Highlight Differentiators: Emphasize your unique selling points that add value over competitors, such as innovative approaches or advanced technology.

Alternatively, you can use the Samearch's AI Government Contracting Proposal Writer to help you draft proposals quickly and easily. This tool is designed to assist businesses in creating compliant and compelling proposals, streamlining the process and improving your chances of success in the competitive government contracting market.

Section 4: Entry-Level Government Contracts

For those looking to break into government contracting, starting with entry-level contracts can provide a valuable entry point into the industry. Understanding which contracts are easier to win can help new contractors gain experience and build credibility. For an in-depth analysis of the easiest government contracts to win, please consult our detailed blog post here. This resource provides insights into identifying and securing these contracts, helping you navigate the initial stages of your government contracting career.

For more detailed advice on getting started, check out the additional resources we've linked throughout this guide. Take the first steps, stay informed, and good luck in your government contracting journey!

About Samsearch

Samsearch is an all-in-one platform that streamlines the entire government contracting process. Our solution brings together discovery, management, compliance, and proposal drafting — eliminating the need for multiple disjointed government contracting softwares.

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