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FAR Bridge Needed to Join the 1% of Firms that Enter the Federal Marketplace

Less than 1% of U.S. Businesses engage in federal contracting. So, entering the federal marketplace is “going against the grain” in some regards. With that said, the Federal Government is one of the largest markets in the world. Working with the Federal Government brings prestige to your business as well as a hedge against a downturn in the economy.

If you are thinking about joining this 1% there are many paths you need to consider. Which path works best for you will depend upon your industry, geographical area of service, as well as your firm’s capabilities.

Blueprint for Building a Bridge

We recommend focusing on three agencies that your business could service well. We tell clients three because it narrows the focus in the beginning, and the reality is for most small businesses this number will quickly become one agency.

The next step is to review how those agencies like to purchase your goods and services. What contracting method is their preferred method?

Note:  Federal Buyers must follow Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR) to legally purchase goods and services. This contracting vehicle or “bridge” provides the federal buyer with a FAR compliant way to purchase. Therefore, not having the “bridge” the agency likes to use makes buying from your firm more difficult than other firms.


GSA Schedule

A GSA Schedule Contract is a good way for businesses to break into the federal marketplace because they provide a contracting vehicle. A contracting vehicle is important because it provides federal buyers with a legal way to do so. Additionally, a GSA Schedule provides a listing on GSA Advantage which is the online shopping bazaar for Federal Buyers. This makes it so your firm can be found while federal buyers are conducting market research. GSA Schedules generally work well with all agencies however certain industries like construction and architecture are not eligible.


Similar to GSA Schedules, Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) such as NASA SEWP, or Alliant are created with a specific purpose in mind. This purpose can be to provide outsourced Human Resource functions or Information Technology needs to agencies. Obtaining positions on GWACs can be difficult, but not impossible, for new federal contractors it is more difficult to obtain a position on these contracts without past performance. This type of contract has limited enrollment so careful monitoring is paramount.


IDIQ Contracts are Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Contracts. These contracts are for conducting business with a single agency or several agencies, and they can be limited to a geographical location, an example might be a facilities maintenance contract for the State of Florida. Very similar to GWACs they provide a mechanism for agencies to legally purchase from the contract holder however there is not an obligation by the agency to make a purchase. These contracts provide a firm with a great opportunity to gain some level of exclusivity with an agency or group of agencies.

Traditional Approaches

Bulletin Boards

A more traditional approach for breaking into the federal marketplace is to monitor the federal bid bulletin board known as FBO.gov. It is here that federal procurement officers post opportunities they would like firms to bid.


Subcontracting is also a good tactic for breaking into the federal marketplace. This provides a firm the ability to make contacts within the federal agency and then over time work to become a prime contractor on their own. Generally knowing the large prime contractors that your target agency likes to work with then provides you with a focus on who you should attempt to subcontract for. Subcontracting can work with all agency types, and agencies such as the Department of Defense or Department of Energy where the projects can be very large in scope often can have subcontracting as a better option.

Breaking Into Federal Contracting can be accomplished with a good gameplan and perseverance. With a narrowed focus and understanding of these important contracting “Bridges”, your firm can become more enhanced through federal contracts.

If you have interest in exploring any or all of these to increase the future business development opportunities for your business, I always recommend contacting an industry expert such as Advance GSA, Fedvital or ez8a. None of these charge for an initial consultation.


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