How to Register for Government Contracting

Here is a basic introduction to the steps necessary to get your business ready for government contracting.

Register for Government Contracting

How to Register for Government ContractingFederal, state and local governments offer businesses the opportunity to sell billions of dollars worth of products and services. Many government agencies require that some percentage of their procurements be set aside for small businesses. Once you have classified your company based on the established size standards, you are ready to begin registering to do business with the government. Follow these easy steps to obtain the registrations you need to begin bidding on government proposals.

Determining Business Size

One of the first steps in becoming a Government contractor is to accurately determine if you can qualify as a small under SBA size standards. In other words, you must be defined as a small business when submitting proposals for small business contracts.

Since all federal agencies must use SBA size standards for contracts identified as small business, you need to select NAICS codes that best describe your business and then determine if the business meet size standards for the selected NAICS codes. SBA size standards are usually stated either in number of employees over the past 12 months, or average annual receipts over the past three years – whichever number represents the largest size of your business right now (including subsidiaries and affiliates). This number is what you will be using to remain classified as a small business for SBA and to bid on federal contracting programs. Size standards are available for every private sector industry in the U.S. economy, with the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) used to identify the industries.

The steps are simple to determine your size:

  1. Find your NAICS code. Go to the NAICS section of the Bureau of the Census website (http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/). Identify the NAICS code(s) that best describe(s) your business activities.  Also see Identifying Industry Codes for more helpful resources. (http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?chart=2007)
  2. Determine your Industry's size standard using the Table of Small Business Size Standards. Match your NAICS code(s) with the appropriate size standard(s).

Your Business Size and Bidding

When bidding for Federal Government contracts, on the date of your bid you cannot exceed the small business size standard that the procuring agency's contracting officer is specifying for the contract. That may or may not be your principal activity or primary industry. As long as you meet the size standard for that contract, you can qualify as a small business. 

For all other small business programs, you cannot exceed the size standard for your primary industry, which is generally the industry that accounts for the largest source of receipts. Check out the Summary of Size Standards by Industry for more information on your business’ industry size standards.

If you have questions about size standards, contact SBA at: 

     Office of Size Standards
     409 3rd St., SW
     Washington, DC 20416
     Phone: (202) 205-6618
     Fax: (202) 205-6390
     E-mail: sizestandards@sba.gov

Steps to Registering as a Federal Contractor

1. Obtain a D-U-N-S Number  http://www.dnb.com/

You will need to obtain a Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number. This is a unique nine-digit identification number for each physical location of your business. The assignment of a D-U-N-S Number is free for all businesses required to register with the Federal Government for contracts or grants. Visit the D-U-N-S Request Service to register or read a quick overview here.

2. Register your Business with the CCR  https://www.bpn.gov/ccr/default.aspx

You need to register your business with the Federal Government's Central Contractor Registration (CCR), the primary database of vendors doing business with the federal government. Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR) require all prospective vendors to be registered in the CCR prior to the award of a contract, basic agreement, basic ordering agreement, or blanket purchase agreement.

The Dynamic Small Business Search (http://dsbs.sba.gov/dsbs/search/dsp_dsbs.cfm) engine of the CCR is also a marketing tool for businesses allowing agencies to search for your company based on your ability, size, location, experience, ownership, and more. The CCR contains the Small Business Source System (SBSS), an internal database of firms certified by the SBA under the 8(a) Development and HUBZone Programs, and a section that allows you to list a profile of your company.

3. Register in ORCA  https://orca.bpn.gov/

You need to complete the solicitation clauses and certifications of the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA). This requires you to certify that the information provided about your company and its business activities is correct. Information that you will be asked on ORCA is explained in Federal Acquisitions Regulations, Section 52.212-3, Offeror Representations and Certifications - Commercial Items.

4. Find the NAICS Codes for Your Company  http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/

You may also find that you need a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code for administrative, contracting and tax purposes. The code classifies the economic sector, industry and country of your business. For Federal contracting purposes, you will need to identify in the CCR all the NAICS codes (industries) applicable to your business.  Read Identifying Industry Codes for more information.

5. Obtain Past Performance Evaluations  http://www.ppereports.com/

Businesses interested in getting on the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule for contracts should obtain an Open Ratings, Inc. Past Performance Evaluation. Open Ratings, a Dun & Bradstreet Company, conducts an independent audit of customer references and calculates a rating based upon a statistical analysis of various performance data and survey responses. While some GSA Schedule solicitations contain the form to request an Open Ratings Past Performance Evaluation, vendors may also submit an online request directly to Open Ratings.

Items Needed for Registration

Below are some of the items that you will need in order to complete registration processes.

More About Government Contracting

Contracting with the Federal Government can open the door to many opportunities for your small business and can aid your business' growth. Visit the following web pages for more information: