Rock Valley College
Rockford, Illinois

Getting Started in Government Contracting

The federal government is the largest buyer of goods and service in the world. Selling to government agencies can be a good business decision to diversify your customer-base.

  • Make sure you have the time to pursue government contracting. Patience and perseverance are necessary.
  • It is necessary that your business have an established track record in the commercial market. The government typically requires two years of commercial business experience.
  • Be certain you have adequate production facilities and manpower to deliver the level of quality that the government demands.
  • Government agencies use modern technology to its fullest potential. It is imperative that your business have access to computer resources.
  • Your business must take the initiative to learn how the government conducts business.
  • Complete government registrations
We've developed a handy checklist for you to manage your registration progress.

Be familiar with the buying thresholds and how products/services are procured:

Sales under the micro-purchase threshold - $3,000 or less - cardholder can generally choose any vendor

  • Get to know the agency cardholders
  • Market to the agency contracting team and cardholders
  • Accept credit cards
  • Maintain government pricing that is fair, reasonable, and is equal to or less than your best customer pricing
  • Purchases/awards are often based on convenience to the purchaser
  • Provide the item or service required with on-time delivery
  • Never split orders that exceed the micro-purchase threshold
  • Register in SAM. For micro-purchases this is not required, but it makes good business sense.


See our "Government Registrations" page for details on where to register.

Sales between $3,000 and $25,000 - competition is required, but opportunities are not required to be advertised

  • Get to know the contracting officers
  • Market to the agency contracting team
  • Register in CCR (soon to be SAMS) and ORCA 
  • Payments are made by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
  • Register in DSBS (not legally required, but many contracting officers use this database for market research; you can provide a capability statement, keywords, and references)
  • Accept credit cards (for actions less than $3,000)
  • Awards are generally based upon price; propose a price which is fair and reasonable
  • Provide the item or service required with on-time delivery
  • Be aware of small business certifications such as 8(a), Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Economically-Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB), and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone). If you are eligible; they can give you a marketing advantage.

See our "Business Certifications" page for details on these certifications.

Sales of $25,000 or more – competition is required and opportunities must be formally advertised

  • Get to know the contracting officers
  • Market to the agency contracting team
  • Search for opportunities in FedBizOpps
  • Register in SAM and ORCA (legally required)
  • Payments are made by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
  • Register in DSBS (not legally required, but many contracting officers use this database for market research; you can provide a capability statement, keywords, and references)
  • Be familiar with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)
  • Understand that for many of the actions estimated to exceed $150,000 you will be in competition with large business
  • Propose a price that is fair and reasonable, but understand that very few awards are made on price alone (READ the evaluation factors in the solicitation!)
  • Provide the item or service required with on-time delivery
  • Be aware of small business certifications such as 8(a), Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Economically-Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB), and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone). If you are eligible; they can give you a marketing advantage.
  • Watch for and respond to sources sought notices in FedBizOpps
  • Read the solicitation, read the contract.