Government contract success often hinges on small, disadvantaged firms
Winning a government contract can be as much about who is bidding as qualifications based on experience, expertise and other factors. The right certified small and disadvantaged business enterprises and subcontractors often are the keys to winning jobs or losing in the final analysis.
Ben Vaught makes many good points in his Construction Dive opinion piece headlined “How to land a government construction contract.” Our firm is an expert in the area of public sector bids and contracts preparation and contracting, and we agree with him on the criteria, just not on the order.
Vaught is correct when he writes that business executives incorrectly think that government contracts are prohibitively competitive, and that “the pay is low and the bid requirements are too time- and effort-consuming. He also hits home by writing that “that first impressions count. Contrary to some beliefs, not all bids are awarded on price alone. RFPs are scored on a variety of factors, such as past success with the agency, minority business status and location.”
And here is where think he should emphasize the importance of certified small- and disadvantaged-business enterprises and subcontractors. Vaught makes that point last while we feel it should be first.
Small-businesses weigh in selection process
Why? Because they can tip the balance in favor of a company that scores almost on par with its bid competitors. As Vaught writes, “Federal, state and local governments have goals to provide a certain percentage of work to minority-owned businesses. These could include benchmarks such as mandating that 23% of business is awarded to small firms, with 5% of small business contracts to be awarded to women-owned businesses and another 5% to disadvantaged small businesses.” Those percentages of a government contract add up to sizable sums.
Other tips such as starting small make good sense. A small or minority-owned contractor entering the competition for government contracts should go after work in which it can excel and thus establish a good track record. As Vaught notes, “RFPs are scored on a variety of factors, such as past success with the agency, minority business status and location.”
Simply showing up for bidding is not enough. A company must know when and where to participate in an RFP. And it needs to establish itself as reliable and honest. With those qualities, good things will come from government contracts.