1. I am new to the federal marketplace, where can I go for help understanding the Federal procurement process, and to get a better sense of what doing business with the federal government entails?
SBA provides free online training that can help you understand the process. SBA's training is located on their website: www.sba.gov. Click on the tab "Learning Center." You will find the option for "online training" that includes "Government Contracting 101," which is designed to help small businesses understand how the government buys goods and services. Other training includes: how to prepare government contract proposals, understanding the small business contracting programs, Business Opportunities, A Guide to Winning Federal Contracts, and other classes to help you build your business.
2. What's a NAICS code?
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) classifies businesses for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. economy. The NAICS industry codes define establishments based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged. Find your NAICS here: http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/.
3. How do I know if I'm a small business?
SBA uses NAICS codes as a basis for determining the size standard of a business and apply to federal procurement. You can use SBA's tool, http://www.sba.gov/tools/size-standards-tool?ms=nid4070, to help you determine if your business is considered small in a particular industry or you can review SBA's Table of Small business Size Standards here: http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-size-standards.
4. I have registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) and need to know how I can find government contracting opportunities with the Federal government?
You may also want to talk with the agency's director of small business (known as the OSDBU) or the small business specialists. The OSDBUS play an important role in the agency to help small businesses navigate the procurement process. The list of each agency's Small Business Directors can be found here: https://www.va.gov/osdbu/.
5. I would like to talk with a real live person for help in understanding what I need to do to win a government contract, where can I go?
- Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) provide a wide range of government contracting help such as: Determining Suitability for Contracting, Securing Necessary Registrations, including GSA's System for Award Management (SAM), SDB, 8(a), HUBzone and other certifications, Marketing, Researching Procurement Histories, Networking, Identifying Bid Opportunities, Proposal Preparation, Contract Performance Issues, and Preparing for Audit. Find a PTAC in your state: (PTACs) http://www.aptac-us.org/find-a-ptac/?state=VA.
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. SBDC advisors provide aspiring and current small business owners a variety of free business consulting and low-cost training services including: business plan development, manufacturing assistance, financial packaging and lending assistance, exporting and importing support, disaster recovery assistance, procurement and contracting aid, market research help, 8(a) program support, and healthcare guidance. SBDCs are hosted by leading universities and state economic development agencies, and funded in part through a partnership with SBA. Find an SBDC in you state: http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc.
6. I am an woman owned business and would like to know more about getting WOSB set-aside contracts, where can I get help?
Women's Business Centers (WBCs) provides entrepreneurs (especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged) comprehensive training and counseling on a variety of topics in several languages. Find a WBC in your state: http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/wbc.
7. I own a minority business, where can I go to get help winning government contracts?
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) helps to create and sustain U.S. jobs by promoting the growth and global competitiveness of businesses owned and operated by minority entrepreneurs. MBDA hosts business centers across the country where minority-owned firms seeking to grow their business can access experts who can help you. The list of MBDA business centers are found here: http://www.mbda.gov/businesscenters.
8. How else can I get experience with government contracting?
Subcontracting to a prime government contractor can be a good way to participate in the contracting process. To find subcontracting opportunities, go to SBA's SUB-Net database, where you will be able to review the site to identify subcontracting opportunities that are in your area of expertise. SBA's SUB-Net database: http://web.sba.gov/subnet/search/index.cfm.
I have never applied for a federal grant but may be interested in doing so. Where do I find information on the process and what to expect?
The Grants.gov Program Management Office hosts a "Learning Center" that serves as a gateway to the federal grants world. This offering, located at http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/learn-grants.html, walks the public through the entire grants lifecycle. It, also, provides a range of information on policies that affect federal grants; programs and agencies offering grants; common terminology; and, systems that are necessary to the application process. Essentially, the learning center provides the public with a "one-stop" shop to all things federal grants.
What is the C-DER Library?
The Common Data Element Repository Library (C-DER) was authorized jointly by the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in June 2014 to facilitate the use of common data standards and implementation of the DATA Act. OMB tasked HHS with providing tactical leadership for the DATA Act Section 5 grants pilot. The C-DER Library is part of the DATA Act Section 5 Grants pilot and is designed to be an authorized source for data elements and data definitions used by the federal government in agency interactions with the public. Initially populated with financial assistance information, the repository is designed to include data standards that have been approved through the implementation of the DATA Act. The C-DER Library is managed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in its role as executing agent for the OMB Section 5 Grants Pilot. The C-DER Library can be found here: http://repository.usaspending.gov/poc-tool/.
How does the C-DER Library complement other sources of data standards, for example the Uniform Grants Guidance, OMB A-11 or FAR?
The C-DER Library is a repository of federal-wide, standardized data elements that consolidates information from authoritative sources into a single repository.
DATA Act Resources
How is the DATA Act being implemented?
The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) Pub. L. 113-101 was enacted on May 9, 2014. The purpose of the DATA Act, as directed by Congress, is to:
- Expand Federal Funding and Transparency Act of 2006 by disclosing direct agency expenditures and linking federal contract, loan, and grant spending information to Federal agency programs;
- Establish government-wide data standards for financial data and provide consistent, reliable, and searchable data that is displayed accurately;
- Simplify reporting, streamlining reporting requirements, reducing compliance costs, while improving transparency;
- Improve the quality of data submitted to USASpending.gov by holding agencies accountable; and
- Apply approaches developed by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to spending across the government.
The Administration is committed to implementing the DATA Act. The goal is to transform the way the government does business by using Federal spending data for management decision making. In addition, increasing the accuracy and accessibility of Federal spending data affords the public a more transparent view on government spending. For more information, please visit the Federal Spending Transparency collaboration space here: http://fedspendingtransparency.github.io/.
What is the data standardization process and where can I find out more information about the data standards being considered under the DATA Act?
One of the chief goals of the DATA Act is to promote data standardization across the Federal enterprise. A data element is a category for collecting a specific unit of data. For example, outlays, obligations, and recipient name are data elements. Data standardization is the process of reconciling the varying definitions each data element may have across the Federal government. The goal of standardization is to have data elements that are consistent in definition and in format. In order to accomplish this goal, OMB is coordinating a robust discussion between Federal communities of interest, existing Councils, and the public to harmonize existing definitions and work toward standards that can be used by the entire government. For more information on the data standardization effort and to track progress on upcoming standards, please visit the Federal Spending Transparency collaboration space here: http://fedspendingtransparency.github.io/.