How to Find Government Contract Opportunities on SAM.gov
Once you are awarded your GSA Schedule contract, it does not automatically mean you will have orders streaming in from government agencies. Knowing what government contracting opportunities are available is an essential part of being a successful contractor. To significantly increase your chances of contracting success, you should be proactive about finding opportunities that fit your solutions. The good thing is, there are several GSA resources you can use to discover business in the federal marketplace, like SAM.gov. We put together this blog to show you the step-by-step process on how you can use the site to easily search for procurement opportunities.
What is SAM.gov?
The System for Award Management (SAM) website is an important resource you can use to find government contracting opportunities. SAM.gov is a free site that government contractors use to register their company to do business with the U.S. government, check exclusion records and wage determinations, conduct entity reporting, and access public award data. We’ll show you how to navigate through SAM.gov to find government procurement opportunities that work for you.
How to Find Contracting Opportunities on SAM.gov
I’m going to walk you through a search as if I was in charge of finding opportunities for this company. For this extended example, XYZ Technologies is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small business that offers computer monitors.
On the home page, the first thing you'll want to do is click on the link for “Contract Opportunities” (highlighted below). To search for an opportunity that caters specifically to your business, it’s imperative that you are aware of specific keyword identifiers to narrow down your search.
For example, if you are looking for opportunities for Information Technology (IT), thousands of results will come up. To avoid having your search be like finding a needle out of a haystack, you want to be as descriptive as possible in your search. There are a few filters you can use that could help streamline this process such as keywords, notice type, dates, products, or service information, and set asides. Each of these filters can assist in finding the contracting opportunity that fits your company's offerings.
To start your search, it’s important to include key words that answer the following questions: What labor category does your product/service fall under? What products/services does your business offer? In this example, XYZ Technologies would type "Information Technology" and "computer monitors." But as you can see, that yields over 50,000 results. You’ll want to narrow your search even further using response date, notice type, and other specific filters.
By using the dates filter, you can select Response/ Dates Offers Due which allows you to weed out any opportunities that require responses too soon. It is important to select a date that gives you enough time to prepare your response. Let’s say XYZ Technologies wants ample time to prepare their response. In this example, I chose 3 months which decreased the search results significantly. You can also target a specific date range if you want to get more granular.
While there are several options to choose from, sources sought and presolicitation are the best choices if you are looking to get involved in an opportunity early on. It’s best practice to get your foot in the door before a Request for Proposal (RFP) comes out, so you can use this filter to find budding opportunities.
A sources sought notice is issued by agencies to solicit interest in projects being considered that have not entered the RFP stage. This helps federal agencies perform market research on whether a project can be assigned to certain set-asides. On the other hand, a presolicitation notice is issued for a project in advance of an invitation for bid. In my example, XYZ Technologies selected both options which narrowed down their opportunity pool even further.
Products and Services
By specifying the NAIC Code that is applicable to your business, the search is tailored to include the specific products and services you are offering. The NAICs code for XYZ Technologies is 33411 for Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing. By inputting this NAICS Code, the results shrunk from 529 to 5 possible procurement opportunities. You may have more than one NAICS Code, so you can search for multiple at a time, or one-by-one if you would like.
There are many opportunities that limit the pool of competition for small businesses. Using the set-asides filter, you can track down more opportunities that are reserved for businesses like yours. In this example, XYZ Technologies is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small business. By using this filter, the search results were narrowed down to only one opportunity. At this point in your search, it is possible to have more than one opportunity listed. If you feel like the search becomes too narrow, you can expand the date range, NAICS Code offerings, or keywords. If you are unsure if you qualify for certain set-asides, you can check out our blog on small business set-asides.
What Should You Do After You Find Contracting Opportunities?
Once you have narrowed your search down to a number of opportunities, you’ll want to read through each solicitation thoroughly to make sure it’s the right option for you. If you are searching for sources sought and presolicitation, they are often in the early stages and a detailed response will not be required yet. However, before you engage in any opportunity, you want to make sure your company has the time and resources to prepare a response.
If you want to learn more about how to prepare a solicitation response, check out our blogs Everything You Need to Know About a Government Solicitation, and How to Find Federal Opportunities and Capture Government Business. Once you have done all you can to find opportunities, you should try to focus on your government marketing strategy so that agencies can find you. Here are a few blogs that can help you make your business more visible to government agencies: GSA Advantage! Best Practices and How to Become a Government Contractor. By putting these steps into practice, you will be on your way to getting a contract award for your business. If you have any questions about your GSA Schedule in general, one of our consultants would be happy to help you.