Getting Government Contracts

Advice on putting your company in a position to do work for the Federal government. March 12, 2009

I've been working on navy contracts for a while. It seems like as soon as one contract ended, I got a call and picked up another one. Well, about two months ago, that ended. No calls. I heard from a guy I did a sign for and he told me their fiscal year was about to end. No money anymore until the next fiscal year.

I started to look for state and local government work. I have not found anything yet. Is there a website anyone knows of that posts government work? Small contracts under 50K, even under 10K. I'd like to find city, state and federal. I get emails for companies that want to match me to contracts for a fee but I don't know if they are worth any money or not. There has got to be a free listing someplace, or at least a low cost listing. Thanks for any suggestions.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor K:
Many years ago I worked for a company that bid off of "The Dodge Report". We did a few city garages (metal buildings). I just Googled "Dodge Report" and got a number of sites, try it!

From contributor J:
Are you already registered to do business with the government (DUNNS #, Central Contractor Registration, etc.) or have you been doing business with contractors on the Navy installation and getting paid by them?

From the original questioner:
DUNNS # and all that. We were paid from WAFS (think that is what it's called) for larger jobs, VISA for smaller jobs. I’ve never done work through a contractor on base. All work has been in my shop and then installed on base. Install usually takes a couple of days.

From contributor J:
WAWF, which stands for Wide Area Work Flow. You probably send your invoices via that portal also, correct? The Visa is the Government Purchase Card Program. You're all set.

I worked for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service when I was in the air force. They pay the invoices for vendors such as yourself and do the accounting. What you may want to do is get in contact with your local SBA office. They have a mechanism for getting you in line to do government contracts that are under $25,000. Those are required, by law, to go to small businesses like ours. I'm all set up to do government work too, but I've avoided it so far. It takes too much capital to cash flow through their pay cycle for me.

From contributor R:
I just got my first contract to build some stuff for the navy. I'm in San Diego. A guy there told me that the navy does its budget in September.

From contributor J:
Not to worry. If you have a contract in hand with the navy, then as far as they're concerned the money is already spent. You'll actually be paid with FY '08 dollars. The money has to be “obligated” during the FY involved and then the treasury can disburse those funds for up to five years after that.

What the navy and the rest of government are doing right now is called 'fiscal year end close-out'. That's making the mad dash to spend any remaining FY 08 funds before 30 Sep or return any remaining budget authority to the treasury.

The budgeting process for FY 09 dollars probably started for the navy back in Jan or Feb. As of last week, congress had not passed any of the major appropriations bills for FY 09. If they don't have a budget then congress will pass something called a “continuing resolution authority” to allow the government to spend based on last year’s budget numbers. Again, it’s something that's become the rule rather than the exception.