Government Contracting Guide: What You Need to Know

Government Contracting Guide: What You Need to Know - top government contractors - best government contracting event

What is government contracting

The process by which the government enters into contracts with large or small businesses and solutions vendors is known as government contracting. The federal government’s contract with a private or public provider or vendor is governed by the same contract regulations for non-government companies.

Federal government contracts are subject to additional restrictions, federal claims and statutory laws than typical contracts because public funds are used to pay for them. While private businesses have extensive freedom in crafting the terms of their agreements, federal law mandates that government procurements include several conditions and claims.

Several of these contracts are worth billions of dollars in federal funding. The Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and Department of Health and Human Services are among the top contracting official agencies in the federal government.

What are the three principles of government contracting?


The transparency principle assures that official government organization offers a contract through an objective, transparent, fair, and comprehensive public selection process, allowing bidders to represent reasonable offers and express objections, observations, questions, or clarifications to the contracting entity’s documentation.

To ensure compliance and processes to be carried out fairly and equally, third-party documents and applications are also made public.

This practice expresses the fact that complete and open competition produces fair and reasonable prices and that such competition eliminates disputes by ensuring that all qualified businesses have the opportunity to sell to the government.


According to the economic concept, selection methods should be set up. Only the necessary phases, have related terms, and have preclusive and urgent deadlines are employed, ensuring that the least amount of resources is spent.

Before commencing the selection process, the state agency must ensure that it has the necessary financial resources and preliminary research to determine the scope of the contract.


Only contractors who are determined to be “responsive” and “responsible” are awarded contracts. Regardless of the procurement method adopted, the contracting officer must ensure that a potential contractor is “responsive” and “responsible” before the contract is issued, according to the laws.

Businesses must represent a sealed bid or proposal under the quotation or solicitation’s terms and conditions to be considered responsive.

Under the responsibility concept, contractors, government agencies, and public officials are all held accountable for their conduct during the selection process. As a result, if their actions or omissions hurt a proponent or contractor, they are subject to civil, criminal, and disciplinary claims. ​

What are the five major categories of government contracting?

The Fixed-Price Contract

This government contract specifies a price that is not subject to change depending on the contractor’s value experience throughout the contract’s execution. This contract form leaves the government contractors at the most significant risk and assumes full responsibility for all costs and profits or losses. A fixed-price government contract gives small businesses the most benefits to keep costs under control and complete the project successfully while putting the least administrative burden on the contracting parties.

Local governments may issue a fixed-price contract with a cost-effective price modification in particular instances. As a result, the price the agency will pay may vary depending on a variety of factors. If the fixed costs of goods or services fluctuate, the amount paid to the businesses may alter.

The Cost-Reimbursement Contracts

While fixed-price contracts put the contractors at higher risk, cost-reimbursement contracts put the local governments at greater risk. The majority of these government contracts are for research and development rather than actual goods and services.

These official contracts create an estimated value to obligate funds and a ceiling that the contractor may not exceed without the contracting officer’s consent.

Time & Materials Contracts

A Time and material government contract is the total opposite of a Fixed-Price Contract. This kind of government contract is commonly used in construction and product development. Time and material contracts are utilized when the scale of the project or any modifications that may occur during development cannot be predicted.

The government establishes a per-hour labor rate, evaluates material prices, and sets a price ceiling for these contracts. This is a terrific alternative if you can give the services within your budget. In other circumstances, referred to as labor-hour contracts, the contractor will deliver support or labor rather than materials.

Indefinite Delivery & Quantity Contracts

It’s possible that local governments don’t always know exactly what they need. For example, they may not know the exact amounts of material they require or the length of time they require agencies to do labor.

This kind of contract offers a variety of indefinite element combinations that provide the needed flexibility to suit the government’s needs. When the exact timings or quantities of future deliveries are uncertain at the time of contract award, the proper sort of indefinite-delivery contract might be used to buy products or services.

Incentive Contracts

An incentive contract’s goal is to encourage the contractor to provide superior products or services. This means that the government is issuing a contract with a financial incentive or benefits on pre-determined criteria.

Go here to discover more about the many forms of government contracts in greater depth than you probably ever desired to read.

The process of bidding government contracts

Register your business

You must first register your organization with the system for award management to be considered for government contracting projects. Searchable databases of enterprises interested in government contracts are available on the United States government System of Award Management (SAM) official website.

Acquire DUNS Number

The Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS Number) of Dun & Bradstreet (DB) is an official nine-digit number that may instantly represent small businesses, corporations, or firms. DUN’s statistics have remained constant during the company’s existence. It’s also utilized to track down companies and their international financial transactions. You can buy a DUNS number online through the DUNS Request Service Platform.

Get a NAICS code

Small businesses almost always require a NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) number. In the United States government, this code is used to classify small businesses, enterprises and collect economic statistics. Your company will need this code to register and apply for federal contracts. The code also benefits the government to categorize a business’s industry easily.

Please keep in mind that if your company works in various industries, you may need to obtain and represent multiple NAICS codes. For further information on the NAICS, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers to consult.

Check your EIN

The government requires small and large businesses’ EINs (Employee Identification Numbers). You can get an Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for free.

Where to find government contracts?

The United States government official website for searching open contracts is You can analyze opportunities and historical performance evaluations, and previously awarded offers on this page, which will help you prepare your proposals.

A list of prior official federal business opportunities databases from the FedbizOpps website is merged on the same website to locate contract opportunities, contract data reports, support lists, and so on.


The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a searchable Subnet database highlighting enterprises with large government contracts and future subcontracting possibilities. Small businesses can refer to their official website for contracting opportunities through the Small Business Administration Subcontracting Network or SubNet.

SubNet possibilities are a great place to start if you’re seeking subcontracting opportunities, want to gain extensive experience or learn about how agencies and companies collaborate on government contracts.

General Services Administration (GSA)

The GSA of the United States is an official government organization in charge of linking government buyers with businesses. “Getting onto the GSA Schedules” refers to obtaining a contract with the GSA.

The GSA Schedule, often known as the Federal Supply Schedule or Multiple Award Schedule (MAS), is a long-term goods and services bid. This is also a significant component of all government management spending. This official database represent successfully defended billions of dollars in purchases every year.

Government contracting terminologies to know

  • Contracting Officer (CO): A federal government official can access into, administer, extend, or terminate contracts, as well as related rulings and conclusions.
  • Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR): the set of rules that regulate government contracting
  • Federal Acquisition Service (FAS): the federal government’s acquisition and procurement arm
  • Small Business: A for-profit corporation owned and operated independently fulfills the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) compliance and size limits.

Is government contracting worth it?

Is working for the government worthwhile? You are the only one who is capable of answering that question. Why don’t you give it a chance if you believe you and your firm meet the requirements set forth by the federal government?

There’s no harm in trying, but keep in mind that government contracting is a challenging field to break into, and you’ll most certainly face ups and downs as you get started. So, before you begin and achieve success, ensure that you have adequate resources, commitment and a clear understanding of how the sector operates.

I hope that this essay has clarified some of your concerns about government contracts. For more information, check out the following articles:

4 Tips for pursuing government contracts for small business

How to Get Government Contracts and Partners in GovCon

Executive Networking to Build Relationships in GovCon

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Written by Earl Timothy

A writer, who wants to share his thoughts with people of any age and converse with them through his writing.
He writes in different niches, from pets, travel, adventure, and more. But now, he is currently writing business and industry articles for the Government Contracting sector.

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