Doing Business with the Federal Government
The U.S. government is the world's largest buyer of products and services. Purchases by military and civilian installations amount to approximately $258 billion a year, and include everything from complex space vehicles to janitorial services to cancer research. In short, the government buys just about every category of commodity and service available.
In order to do business with the Federal Government a business has to be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM). The System for Award Management (SAM)is the primary registrant database for the U.S. Federal Government. SAM collects, validates, stores and disseminates data in support of agency acquisition missions. Vendors must maintain their SAM records annually.
As part of your SAM registration, you will complete your Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA). The online registration replaces most of the paper based Representations and Certifications (Reps and Certs) in Section K of solicitations with an Internet application. FAR 52.204-8 mandates the use of ORCA after January 1, 2005.
The government buys many of the products and services it needs from suppliers who meet certain qualifications. It applies standardized procedures by which to purchase goods and services. That is, the government does not purchase items or services in the way an individual household might. Instead, government contracting officials use procedures that conform to the Federal Acquisition Regulation(FAR).
The FAR is a standardized set of regulations used by all federal agencies in making purchases. It provides procedures for every step in the procurement process, from the time someone in the government discovers a need for a product or service to the time the purchase is complete.
As of October 1, 2001, the government transitioned from Commerce Business Daily (CBD) to Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) to "post" all procurement opportunities expected to exceed $25,000. FedBizOpps is a web-based application and is the government-wide point of entry to communicate its buying requirements to potential suppliers. This very important website can be accessed at www.fbo.gov.
When the government wants to purchase a certain product or service, it can use a variety of contracting methods. Simplified acquisition procedures, sealed bidding, contracting by negotiation and consolidated purchasing vehicles are key contract methodologies used to purchase products and services.