Despite the recession, the U.S. government is still buying goods and services, and doing business with selected federal agencies can help your business thrive and develop new international markets. This export market comes without the perils of foreign distributorships, unfamiliar languages, customs delays and international shipping headaches. You also never need worry if the U.S. government will pay you.
The State Department, United States Agency for International Development, United States Trade Development Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Millennium Challenge Corporation are key federal government agencies that spend millions of dollars annually to purchase products and services that they use overseas. You never compete with foreign suppliers because the “Buy American Act” provision of the Federal Acquisition Regulation requires that these agencies purchase the majority of their goods and services from sources in the United States. Despite this competitive advantage, few minority firms attempt to profit from this under-utilized way to sell products and services in international markets.
The FedBizOpps website is a one-stop shop for finding government business opportunities. Search procurement announcements by agency or use your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code to find open contract offers. Fbo.gov also provides federal agency procurement notices for individual services, or Personal Services Contractors. Register to get email alerts for new opportunities.
All business and individual federal contractors must have a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, and a Central Contractor Registration (CCR) record. Small Business Administration certifications for women, veterans, 8A and Hub Zone provide some advantages.
Special Federal International Export Opportunities
USAID has an additional Procurement Information Bulletin by email. These designated contract programs are mainly requests for ocean transportation services, bulk food supplies, medical and office equipment. MCC’s RSS feed for its international projects connect you to funded overseas partners who must purchase goods and services from U.S. suppliers. USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service provides export assistance and credit for crop producers and packaged food businesses.
The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization for each federal agency offers assistance that ranges from trade shows that help you develop relationships with agency procurement staff to mentor-protégé partnerships with experienced agency contractors. With preset annual expenditure targets, OSDBU offices also offer set-aside contracts for agency purchases below a specific threshold. These contracts help your business develop a performance record in federal contracting.
The USA spending website lets you research annual federal spending by agency and NAICS code. All federal agencies publish Annual Program Statements or Procurement Plans. Each agency’s Congressional Budget Justification also provides insight into its procurement priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. Use Fbo.gov to research awarded contracts and identify the top contractors in your target agencies that are your competitors or potential partners.
Government Assistance for Direct Exporting
Export.gov, a service provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides export market data, trade leads, market research and information on the U.S. Commercial Service’s overseas assistance for exporting businesses. All U.S. businesses are eligible for export assistance from the Overseas Private Insurance Corporation. Business entities with total sales below $35 million annually qualify for expedited services through OPIC’s Small Business Center for export financing loans, export insurance and investment assistance. The Export-Import Bank functions as the federal government’s primary source of loans for exporting businesses. When you identify customers in international markets, register for assistance your exporting activities.
U.S. State Department OSDBU http://www.state.gov/m/a/sdbu/
USAID OSDBU and Minority Resource Center http://www.usaid.gov/business/small_business/
USDA OSDBU http://www.dm.usda.gov/smallbus/vos.htm
USTDA Small Business http://www.ustda.gov/businessopps/smbusinesses.asp
MCC Business Opportunities http://www.mcc.gov/pages/business/opportunities
USAID Procurement Announcements http://forums.info.usaid.gov/
USDA FAS Export Credit Guarantee Programs http://www.fas.usda.gov/excredits/ecgp.asp
Federal Business Opportunities https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=main&mode=list&tab=list
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/
Central Contractor Registration (CCR) https://www.bpn.gov/ccr/
OPIC Small Business Center http://opic.gov/financing/small-business-center
Export-Import Bank of the United States http://www.exim.gov/index.cfm
Washington Technology: 2011 Top 100 Contractors http://washingtontechnology.com/toplists/top-100-lists/2011.aspx