Government Contracting – Tips from an Insider

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Mary Jo Juarez, Business Consultant

Mary Jo Juarez,
Business Consultant

Mary Jo Juarez, PTAC Business Consultant, Kitsap Economic Development Alliance

As a small business have you pondered your customer’s thoughts about how effective your business is, what they think about your customer service, and any suggestions for improvement they may have but are reluctant to give you? Carol S. Decker, Associate Director, Office of Small Business Programs, NAVSUP presented a workshop at the 2014 Alliance NW Conference and shared research she had collected from a variety of government agencies on things they wished every small business should know:

  • Stay current on market trends.
  • Consider developing sample proposals to increase response time to opportunities.
  • Have at least one viable working relationship with a large business that does federal contracting before attempting to be a prime contractor to the federal government.
  • Become familiar with the federal contracting rules before contemplating entering the federal market.
  • Use databases like FPDS-NG to see which offices buy what you want to sell.
  • Seek out the opportunities where the offices post them.
  • Discover where your expertise fits into an agency’s mission before contacting them.
  • Map your capabilities to specific requirements; don’t market general qualifications and small business certifications.
  • Go to the Procurement Technical Assistance Center and get to know them.
  • Know your niche and where the federal government needs your skills.
  • Ask questions when you have them.
  • Provide value for a fair and reasonable price.
  • Remember our small business specialist is a great first contact.
  • Don’t assume that you won’t qualify for a contract. Ask questions – submit a quote.
  • Follow the money.
  • Don’t expect that the government has a contract waiting for you.
  • Don’t overstate your capabilities or take on too much too soon. Diversify!
  • Don’t underbid at your own detriment.
  • Don’t be averse to subcontract work before pursuing prime contract opportunities.
  • Don’t disappoint a federal customer once you have an award.
  • Don’t try to explain away poor performance.
  • Don’t send non-specific marketing emails with large attachments. They probably won’t get them due to email imitations and many won’t bother to read them.

The Washington State Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Alliance Conference is scheduled on 5 March, 2015 at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.  As the largest Small Business Conference in Washington State, this conference provides excellent networking opportunities to meet prime contractors and government agencies.  The Kitsap PTAC located at 4312 Kitsap Way, Suite 103, Bremerton, WA 98312, will be sponsoring a class prior to the Alliance Conference to show you how to make the best use of a conference with a focused, targeted plan.  Our goal is to help you to be successful in obtaining government contracts and performing the work when your business receives an award.  You can reach our office at 360-377-9499.

Mary Jo Juarez has over 30 years’ experience in government contracting; most recently working as a Navy Deputy for Small Business, helping the Navy meet their small business goals. As a PTAC counselor with the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, Mary Jo provides education and technical assistance to businesses who are interested in doing business with the government. To learn about KEDA’s PTAC program, please contact Kathy Cocus at

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