Learn how your small business can work with the biggest buyer in the world

Authors: Green For All No matter what – no matter the size of the government, no matter who controls the White House or the Congress – the Federal Government will always be a major economic force. And it will always need to procure goods and services from the private sector. That's where you come in. The Federal Government is the world's largest buyer of products and services. More than $500 billion in contracting dollars is spent by the U.S. government every year, with purchases ranging from complex space vehicles to janitorial services. For the first time in many years, small businesses owners – particularly minority, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses – have a leg up. U.S. law currently establishes a goal that 23 percent of prime federal contract dollars go to small businesses. In FY2010 – for the first time in five years – the Administration awarded 32 percent of all federal ARRA contracts to small businesses, proving that agencies can meet – and exceed – that 23 percent goal Congress established in the late 1990's. In April 2010, President Obama went further, issuing a memo (the Inter-agency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Business Presidential Memorandum) that commissioned the task force to develop innovative strategies, remove barriers, expand outreach, and establish policy to help small businesses participate in federal contracting. One of the most visible outreach efforts has been a series of procurement events throughout the country hosted by various federal agencies. The goal is to get local stakeholders aware of federal contract opportunities at different government agencies, and to provide them with an opportunity to hear directly from senior Administration officials on how to secure federal contracts. The events also provide follow-up mechanisms to increase the likelihood of contracting opportunities. Green For All has taken a strong role in supporting outreach efforts in Detroit, Pittsburgh and San Antonio. We've helped to attract women- and minority-owned businesses – and especially green businesses – to the procurement events. For example, our partner, GTECH Strategies, served as a local resource partner for the Department of Energy-hosted event in Pittsburgh, where they provided information on green business strategies to over 150 small businesses. They also signed up over 25 businesses to participate in the local Green Jobs Advisory Board, which GTECH saw as important evolution in the local green economy. To help foster long-term support, Green For All also recently created a procurement manual entitled, "Doing Business with the Federal Government: The Basics." The guide is intended to:
  • Help small business owners de-mystify the Federal procurement process and increase access to federal contracts,
  • Provide potential vendors with basic steps on how to become certified as a federal contractor,
  • Offer resources on marketing and assistance with the bidding process, and
  • Highlight upcoming changes that will streamline the Federal procurement system.
September 30, 2011, is the end of the Federal Government's fiscal year – and the target date for the Administration to hit their 23 percent of federal contract dollars goal for small businesses. With the level of commitment we've seen in the last year, it is likely – but not guaranteed – that the Administration will meet its goal in 2011. What we know for sure is that small businesses are beginning to experience greater access and opportunities to federal contracts, which will help their businesses grow, drive innovation – and, most importantly, create jobs.

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