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By Debbie Gregory.

If you’re ready to steer your company towards government contracting, there are a few important steps to make sure you follow to increase your chances of success.

Make sure you have registered on System for Award Management (SAM), the database used by the government to find qualified contractors, and where larger contract-holders, and small business teaming partners seek qualified subcontractors. To do so, you will need the following:

– Your DUNS Number, Legal Business Name, and Physical Address from your Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) record. (If you don’t already have one, you can request a DUNS Number for FREE from D&B.)

– Your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Taxpayer Name associated with your TIN. Review your tax documents from the IRS (such as a 1099 or W-2 form) to find your Taxpayer Name.

– Your bank’s routing number, your bank account number, and your bank account type, i.e. checking or savings, to set up Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).

Identify who will be buying your services and research your customer. You can research potential agency customers online to learn about what goods and services they are looking for so you’re able to narrow down which ones to target. Many agencies post their procurement forecasts, identifying what contract requirements they are seeking.

Check out www.fbo.gov, an online listing of government contracts that detail all contracts with a value exceeding $25,000. Another available resource is www.usaspending.gov, a site that details how government money is spent, what agency is issuing awards and who the federal government is buying from.

While it can feel overwhelming at times, securing a government contract can be very lucrative. Be ready to put in the time and energy, and stay persistent in your efforts. For companies aspiring to become government contractors, there’s a lot to learn. But the benefits of government contracting are worth the challenge, creating new customers and accelerating your business to the next level.

By Debbie Gregory.

Although a lot of work goes into winning a government contract, it can be very lucrative, making the hoops worth jumping through. If you’re wondering where to start, here are some tips to get you started.

All businesses can benefit from networking. No matter what stage your business is in, from just getting started up through well established, building relations and strategic alliances with mentors, other business owners and contractors can only help you. Check out networking events at veteran incubators, military bases, colleges, chambers of commerce, outreach centers, etc.

Make sure you have a team in place to handle what needs to be done. Go for quality, not quantity. Make sure that regardless of how many people you have, they know what their responsibilities are and can get them done correctly and in a timely manner.

If you were buying a house, you would want to begin the funding process before you put on offer in. In the same vein, you want to have your financing lined up before you make promises on deliverability. The SBA is a great resource, so make sure you check out how they might be able to assist you.

Build your performance history. Every company started with that first job, first order, first contract. Now is the time to start establishing your track record. Keep it on track by completing what you say you’ll do, and do it to the highest level.

Toot your own horn. Leverage the internet to showcase what you can do and what you have done. Make sure you keep your website up-to-date and post on your social media platforms.

If you don’t have many employees, remember that not every job has to be done by an in-house person. There are a number of ways to outsource the work on an “as-needed” basis.

If you do your homework ahead of time, you will be better positioned to bid on that government contract when the opportunity presents itself.

By Debbie Gregory.

Just because your company does not contract directly with the government does not mean you lose out on the opportunity. Large companies who are hired as the prime contractors more often than not use smaller companies as subcontractors to provide the services they don’t already have in place.

In order to make sure you are in a position to accept a subcontractor opportunities, here are some thing you should prepare in advance:

Have knowledge of your business’s processes, resources, staff and capital. The government is notorious for requiring a lot of paperwork, so having this information at the ready will give you the opportunity to jump in to the process quickly.

The companies working on government contracts also have diversity requirements to fulfill, so if you are a veteran owned business, a woman owned business, a minority owned business, etc., make sure you have the appropriate certification.

Keep current on what contracting/subcontracting opportunities are available. In addition to online sites that specialize in these searches, sign up for VAMBOA membership and you will receive emails whenever we receive requests for proposals from our corporate sponsors.

Reach out to the person in charge of the project to see if you can pre-qualify your services. There’s no point in filling out the paperwork and going through the application process if they require something you can’t comply with.

Speaking of paperwork, it is imperative to provide all information requested, whether it makes sense to you or not. Try to keep all information concise and to the point, and submit it as early as you can. This will give you some leeway to correct any errors or answer any questions prior to the deadline.

Hopefully, you have already reached out to the project manager before submitting your application, so a quick communication to check on the status of your bid helps to further build that relationship. It will also help you receive a status update.

If you don’t win the bid, your contact can possibly help you understand why. Rather than focusing on the defeat, think of it as an opportunity to better prepare for the next opportunity.

If you won, now’s the time to get busy and ramp up. Make sure everything is in place for you to deliver on your promise of performance.

By Debbie Gregory.

A 53-year-old business owner and a 57-year-old service-disabled vet have pleaded guilty to engaging in a pass-through scheme designed to fraudulently land $13.8 million in federal contracts set aside for veteran-owned small businesses.

Jeffrey Wilson and his partner in crime, Paul Salavitch, hatched a “rent a vet” scam that led to the charges.

By listing Salavitch as the person responsible for the day-to-day operations of Patriot Company, a construction business owned by Wilson, they were able to leverage Salavitch’s disabled status to access lucrative contracts that the company otherwise wouldn’t qualify for.

As a result, the company 20 government contracts worth almost $14 million, with some worth as much as $4.3 million apiece.

The fraud was uncovered in 2013, when the Department of Veterans Affairs visited Patriot Company’s headquarters unannounced. Of course, Salavitch was nowhere to be found; Salavitch had a job as a federal employee with the Department of Defense in Leavenworth and did not actively run the company, located in Kansas City.

Salavitch told the Missouri Division of Purchasing and Materials Management that Patriot Company was a “legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small business,”  knowing that it wasn’t.

Under the terms of their plea agreement, Wilson now faces a sentence of up to 18 months in prison without parole. Salavitch faces up to one year in prison without parole. Both also consented to a civil forfeiture agreement of about $2.1 million.

While thousands of combat wounded and service disabled men and women work hard to succeed in American business, corrupt business owners continue to defraud the U.S. government by falsely claiming they are eligible for these set-asides.

When these fraudsters illegally secure SDVOSB contracts, our nation’s taxpayers and legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses suffer.

road work

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved H.R. 1694, the Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act. The legislation would include veterans in the Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program and would provide parity for the nearly 1 million veterans who are small business owners seeking government contracts. This would level the playing field in federal contracting for veteran-owned businesses by providing veterans access to existing preferences authorized for transportation projects.

Sponsored by Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Don Young (R-Alaska), the legislation calls for states that receive federal money for transportation projects to included veteran-owned businesses in their contracting processes. They added that there are 380,000 construction firms that are owned by veterans in the U.S. that could help build projects across the nation.

Currently, only half of the states meet their DBE goals. Adding veteran small businesses to this program would increase the pool of eligible firms at the states’ disposal. For states that already meet their goals, this bill does not affect them or the small business contractors they employ.

“Our veterans are the most highly skilled workforce in America’s history – the product of rigorous training, an iron-clad commitment to teamwork and the remarkable ability to succeed where others might fail,” said Fitzpatrick. He continued. “We need Fairness to Veterans so we are leveraging the unique strengths of veteran entrepreneurs to address the challenges at home.”

“There’s no question that America’s veterans, who have sacrificed so much for the greater good, are able and ready to put their battle tested skills towards improving our nation’s roads, highways, and critical infrastructure projects,” said Young

The legislation now goes on to the Senate for consideration. The text of the bill is available on the Congress.gov website.

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