I live and work in Washington, DC and I work primarily with the Federal Government...So I think I can help with this one :)
I have several questions regarding getting and maintaining Government contracts. Any advice that you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
1.What is the best way to find government agencies that are looking for bidders? Is there a network or system that manages that?
First register your business on CCR.gov This is the central contractor`s registry and it says that you are a real legitimate business. It id`s you with your bank account, a tax id and a duns number. If you do not have a duns number you can register on the ccr site to get one sent to you in a few days via email. It is no cost for this.
Second once you have completed above then register your business on www.fedbizopps.gov It is a free site that all government agencies submitting bids valued at more than $25k must submit their bid notice to so they can notify everyone nationwide who wants to know.
It is free to register on both of these sites.
2. Who is the best person to contact in an agency to discuss bids and offering services?
4. What is the best way to communicate / negotiate bids with government contracts?
They prefer email.
3. Is going through an agency or consultant who has contacts good?
- How much should the agency / consultant commission or fee be?
- What is the best way to negotiate with the consultant or agency?
No! No! No! Don`t pay for `goverment contracting opps, contacts or anything of the sort. Not even to be notified of bids`. When you go through the proper channels from within, they can properly track the relationship and people feel more comfortable and open to deal with you. It is often about CYA in the government so it will be important that if you drop names, you really know who those people are . If you sound fishy, questionable or anything and you don`t have your story right, they can put you on a `hot list` and ban you from the building or having relationships with people there. The only thing that going thru an outside source is good for is `assistance with certification such as SDB or 8A and obtaining help with writing RFP`s, which are time consuminig and very difficult to write on your own. Any other advice?
Follow up, follow through and give them a lot of personal attention (and remember it is completely different than corporate in how you market and negotiate pricing). In government everything has to have a price or value, otherwise it is considered bribery and people can go to jail for that. You are not supposed to give `discounts` or give stuff away for free. Whether it is information, products or services, everything has to come with a $$$ fee. If they challenge you on something or avoid calling you back it is probably because of this reason. So be conscientous how you word things and `market` to them. Also be fair in your pricing. I know a lot of people try to `upcharge` and rip the government off because they think that it is a money pit, but that kind of stuff comes back on you as well. In that respect it works the same as in the corporate arena, be ethical with them, responsive and have sincere concern in helping them solve their problems.
I know it is difficult to work in a bureaucracy `at first` but if you do it and you help them, they will help you...in more ways than you can ever imagine.
Hope this gets you going in the right direction.