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One way to find bid leads is through FedBizOpps, the official web site listing of all federal government contracting opportunities and awards over $25,000. Federal agencies are required by law to post their contracting opportunities over $25,000 here.
Through this single point of entry, government buyers can post bids soliciting the products and services they need directly to FedBizOpps via the Internet, while commercial vendors seeking to sell their products and services to the government can search, monitor, and retrieve these bids.
While the General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the system, the content of the notices is the sole responsibility of the agency that has issued the notice.
All federal procurement offices are required to announce in FedBizOpps virtually all proposed procurement actions over $25,000. Government agencies are also required to publish information on subcontracting opportunities, including the names and addresses of firms awarded contracts over $25,000 that are likely to result in subcontracts.
There are exceptions to the notice requirements. For example, FedBizOpps usually does not list procurement notices when the supplies or services are classified or are required immediately due to an emergency.
Many procurement announcements are reserved for, or "set aside," for small businesses, minority-owned businesses, women-owned firms, and veteran-owned businesses and they are listed as such.
FedBizOpps postings cover both services and supplies that the federal government wants to purchase, plus the information you need to make an informed offer, including:
Think of FedBizOpps as a classified ad section for the government. Since FedBizOpps is updated every business day with new notices, it is to your advantage to look for new "ads" everyday, just like you would in a newspaper. You don't want to miss a new opportunity.
Get to Know FedBizOpps
While the government continues to enhance the capabilities of FedBizOpps and to make it easier and faster to use, finding your way around the site can be tricky and sometimes confusing.
The official manual explaining and illustrating the system can be found at the FedBizOpps Vendors Guide index page. You can view the manual onscreen or download it from that site. Make sure you go over the entire manual carefully and check each web page, as you go, so that you know where you are and what you are looking at.
It may take some time and effort to get to really know the FedBizOpps system, but it is worth it in the long run. The site contains lots of useful information, including synopses of government solicitations for products or services, actual solicitations, Requests for Proposals and Quotations, sources being sought, market surveys for government planning purposes, amendments/modifications, and award notices.
The search system has many useful options, allowing you to refine your searches, with just a click of your mouse, to a particular date range, classification code, place of performance, agency, etc. Once again, the time you spend trying out and learning about the search features will be time well spent.
Remember that finding what you need on any search system is always easier if you feed it "good" keywords -- in the case of FedBizOpps, words that describe the products/services that you provide (or are capable of providing) and the correct product/service codes. If you find that your searches and/or the e-mail notification service are not retrieving bids that relate to the types of products and/or services your company provides, don't just give up. Go in and change your search criteria, trying different keywords and product/service codes.
If you are looking for subcontracting work, try searching FedBizOpps for awards. Use criteria similar to what you would use when searching for prime contracting opportunities. You can find out the award winner, dollar amount and point of contact. You then can search CCR for more details about the company receiving the award. This is a great marketing tool.
Notices of contract opportunities that appear in FedBizOpps are arranged by Federal Supply Groups (FSG). These classification codes are divided into two groups:
When you look at the Federal Supply Classification (FSC) code, it is derived from the Federal Supply Groups (FSG). The FSG is the first two digits of any of the FSC codes.
These are broken down into:
PRODUCT SERVICE CODE (PSC): The (PSC) Group by the lettering system provides the product and service codes that will be used in the Federal Procurement Data System.
The following material provides an example of how this classification system works. We suggest that you look it over closely because using FedBizOpps to find opportunities requires a working knowledge of the system in order to narrow down your search.
The Letter "C" is the service code for Architect and Engineering Services - Construction. Under "C" are the following subcategories:
ARCHITECT AND ENGINEERING SERVICES (C) ARCHITECT AND ENGINEERING SERVICES - CONSTRUCTION (C1) BUILDING AND FACILITY STRUCTURES (C11)C111 Administrative and Service Buildings
So if you are an architect and you only work on inspecting services you will fall under C213. This will help you define your search profiles and give you a better hit rate. FEDERAL SUPPLY CLASSIFICATION (FSC):
The (FSC) Group by the numeric system presents the classification structure of the Supplies and Equipment Codes, showing all groups and classes listed. The FSC is divided into 78 groups, which are subdivided into 685 classes. Each class covers a relatively homogeneous area of commodities, in respect to their physical or performance characteristics, or in the respect that the items included therein are such as are usually requisitioned or issued together, or constitute a related grouping for supply management purpose.
For example:25 Vehicular Equipment Components
Now let's look at #29, Engine Accessories. The subcategories are:ENGINE ACCESSORIES (29)
You may wonder why we provide so much detail on these codes. Well, if you're going to do a search of the FBO site or you're going to get on a automated bid service of any kind, it's worth your while to get at least the first four codes down to narrow your search. Remember the first four numbers are the beginning of the National Stock Number, which specifies an "exact" product for the government.
When you are looking for active solicitations it's much easier to find what you need by "restricting" the search profile, after all the government wrote over 10,000,000 contracts last year, do you want to go through all of them?
While the General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for the operation and maintenance of FedBizOpps, it is the contracting officer, not GSA, who determines the appropriate classification code for a particular notice. Therefore, the contracting officer is the one held responsible if a notice of a contract is misclassified and, as a result, fails to effectively notify the firms most likely to respond.
To search for opportunities using classification codes, go to the FedBizOpps website and click the "go" button next to "Find Business Opportunity" on the home page. Scroll down to "Search by Procurement Classification Code" where you will find a list of codes. Scroll through the list and highlight the code of interest to you. Scroll to the bottom of page and click the "Start Search" button. This will bring up a listing of leads.
There are two manuals available that can give you information to better identify your areas of interest. These are the Federal Supply Classification Cataloging Handbook and Handbook H2, from the Defense Logistics Information Service.
When you read a posted notice in FedBizOpps, you will often see references to numbered notes within the text. (For example, you may see such phrases as "Notes 12 and 26 apply" or "See Note(s) 22 and 23.")
The purpose of these numbered notes, which are similar to footnotes, is to avoid the unnecessary repetition of information in various announcements. Whenever a numbered note is included in a notice, the note referred to must be read as part of the item or section in which it appears.
Potential Sources Sought
You can use FedBizOpps to find special advance notices of procurement opportunities by searching for "potential sources sought" in the system. At the FedBizOpps home page, click "go," scroll down to "Full Text Search" and enter the search term: potential sources sought. Scroll down and click the Start Search button to get the list.
These synopses provide you with an opportunity to submit information that will permit your capabilities to be evaluated while allowing the government to gauge interest in possible contracts. Responding is very important if a particular community (e.g., small businesses, minority-owned small businesses, women-owned small businesses, or historically black colleges and universities/minority institutions, etc.) desires a set-aside. The decision to set a project aside is often made on the basis of responses received to these Potential Sources Sought synopses.
If you want to be on the ground floor of a buy, this is the place to start. More and more government buyers are using "sources sought" to find qualified pre-bidders or to pre-qualify bidders for a project. It saves them lots of time.
Some contractors view this effort as a waste of time, preferring to concentrate on actual live leads. But you would be surprised at the amount of contracting that is secured this early in the process.
You can also use FedBizOpps to find out about important upcoming meetings and conferences dealing with federal procurement activities, including pre-proposal and bidders' conferences. These meetings are great places to market your capabilities, identify the competition, and structure potential teaming arrangements.
At the FedBizOpps home page, click "go," scroll down to "Full Text Search," and enter the search term: special notice. Scroll down and click the Start Search button at the bottom of the page. Check the "Title" area to locate the notices of interest.
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