The U.S. government is the largest buyer of goods and services in the world, and there are enough opportunities available for everyone to participate in military contract bidding, if you follow the right steps, according to Jennifer Fennell, CPM, director of procurement for Polo Custom Products, Topeka, Kan.
Fennell and Jeff Papalia, textiles program manager for the National Industries for the Blind, outlined the steps to successful military contract bidding in an educational session at the pre-IFAI Expo Advanced Textiles Conference on Tuesday, Oct. 1, in Orlando, Fla.
Military contract bidding can look complicated and multilayered when starting out, Fennell said, but it becomes easier as you become more familiar with the application sites and military specs. Some opportunities are easier than others too. For example, the requirements for a bunk sheet would be simpler than the specs for a life-saving product.
Papalia and Fennel walked attendees through the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website, FedBizOpps.gov. Setting up searches in the search agent is key, and like any website, as you start exploring, it becomes easier to navigate, Papalia said. Searches can be set up, saved and scheduled by key word or key words, NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes; PSCs (Product Service Codes) and FSCs (Federal Supply Codes); business types/set asides (such as small business or women or veteran owned); specific agencies and other parameters. “Quick searches” can be run without logging in, but there are numerous benefits to creating an account, Papalia said. He also recommended setting up multiple searches so that you don’t miss an opportunity, even though that may result in duplicate results. Once you’ve saved search parameters, scheduling the search on a regular basis lets the system do the work for you.
Fennell noted that the FBO site is migrating in November to SAM.gov, a part of the U.S. government’s multi-year effort to move 10 legacy systems into a single system. Saved searches on the FBO site will be migrated and preserved, she says, so users won’t need to start over in the new system.