Because the world has become tightly wired technologically and the current economic situation ties us inexorably to foreign economies, it is likely small business will encounter the import/export process either on the selling or the buying end of federal government contracts involving foreign countries. This is particularly true with Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contracts through DOD and services contracts with civilian agencies such as USAID.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 15-204-1 specifies a uniform contract format for federal government contracts. You have encountered this format during the RFP stage of your procurement since the government is required to utilize it in structuring the request for proposal (RFP), leaving blank those items, which are subject to negotiation such as final contract pricing. Your contract is divided into four parts, with various sections within each part. Prime contractors issue subcontracts flowing down terms and conditions, pricing and other topics in an identical format.
In contracting for supplies and services the federal government utilizes several different contract types. The nature of these contract vehicles has evolved over a period of years based on the government’s experience in the acquisition types.
In small business government service contracting, it is necessary to establish a written policy and procedure disclosing time keeping practices to government auditors and fact-finding teams. Included must be the company process for both pricing and accounting for overtime. In doing so, topics such as compensated and uncompensated time must be addressed.
Service contracting to the federal government is a natural venue for small business. It does not require a product with a niche market or capital intensive manufacturing facilities.
An option to recruit prospective employees and associates who have previously worked in businesses that have contracted with the government is by utilizing contingent hire agreements. Such individuals prospectively bring expertise and qualifications with them and lend credibility to your enterprise proposals.
Some contractors choose to operate on “risk,” continuing to perform on a contract while exceeding the incremental funding in booked cost and obligations. The government is under no obligation to reimburse the contractor for amounts exceeding incremental funding.
The Contract Data Requirements List (CDRL) is usually contained in Part III, Section J of the government solicitation you are bidding and the executed contract upon award.
The CDRL is a register of the deliverable data items. Each data item has a discrete numeric identifier, a data item description (DID) number and a delivery schedule to the customer.
Industry teaming is a fact of life in small business federal government contracting. Your team for a given contract pursuit may consist of several types of industry partners external to your organization.
If you are the business lead by virtue of teaming agreements that recognize your small business set-aside designation as the qualifier for leadership, you have a management challenge. That challenge involves issuing agreements and purchase orders to independent contractors as individuals and negotiating fully executed subcontracts with firms subcontracting to you.
Your enterprise must market on several targeted government contracting fronts to be successful. Simply registering as a federal government contractor or acquiring a small business set aside designation does not mean that contracting officers will find you or that larger corporations will seek you out as a teaming partner. A GSA schedule or a multi-year IDIQ umbrella contract, purchase agreement or similar vehicle may look promising, but they are really no more than hunting licenses. The game must still be bagged (targeted sales of specific products or service projects to customers).