What is a DoD prime contractor?

What is a DoD prime contractor? - top government contractors - best government contracting event

The DoD prime contractor is the private companies that DoD contracts to provide products or services. It can also describe the individuals hired by the DoD who are also considered contractors to perform specific tasks.


The DoD procures many different things such as weaponry, training, new aircraft, development of military technologies, and weaponry. Many businesses have battled out these particular needs to bring their business into a big success.


Some businesses who have successfully gotten to work with the DoD have turned their small business into a huge and considered one of the government industry’s large prime contractors. To know some of the leading DoD prime contractors, you may read here or here.


You may be asking yourself how those companies did it or how they got into a prime government contractor? Make sure you finish this read by the end because we will give you an answer to those questions.


Who is the Department of Defense?

Approximately 1.3 million active-duty men and women, the Department of Defense or DoD is the United States of America’s largest government agency whose primary purpose is to provide safety to the country and its citizens. The DoD is in charge of supplying the necessary armed forces to prevent war. The significant elements of these forces are the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force, making them one of the biggest spenders for government contracts.


What is a Federal government prime contractor?

A federal government prime contractor is a business working directly with the government. This business is given a prime contract and is responsible for the entire project. Prime contractors are required to hire subcontractors to complete the task on time as defined in the contract. Subcontractors are also working under an agreement with the project contract owner. Also, when their job is finished, the subcontractor can already move forward to other projects.


For your business to be part of the prime contractors in the marketplace, you need to surpass different processes, such as registering to the System for Award Management (SAM) or getting on to the GSA Schedules.


How to be DoD prime contractors

How to be part of the DoD prime contractors

As mentioned above, prime contractors work directly with the federal government. They work hand in hand with subcontractors to ensure the completion of the project as stated on the contract.


But what is the difference between a prime government contractor and a prime contractor for the Department of Defense? The simple answer is that DoD prime contractors work for the Department of Defense while a government contractor may work for other federal agencies. The following are ways to turn your small business into a DoD prime contractor.


Evaluate your company

To successfully procure to the Department of defense, you have to ensure that the products or services you offer align with their current needs. You may visit and check out the department’s needs by using the spending explorer.


Conduct a background check with your company

The DoD conducts an extensive background check on each firm or small business that wishes to work with them as part of their qualification standard. To pass through this, you can conduct employee screenings regularly to ensure that your employees do not have any ongoing criminal cases.


 Identify your NAICS codes

The North American Industry Classification System or NAICS is a system used by the federal government to classify small businesses and large companies quickly. For your business to obtain a NAICS code, all you need to do is go to, head over to the “business” located on the top, and then click “NAICS.” They have a section that says “Ask Dr. NAICS,” wherein you can send an email or call them for your small business concerns. You may obtain as much NAICS code as you want if your business offers various products and services.


Request for your DUNS Number

Your DUNS number is a nine-digit code that you can acquire by filing your application free of charge at Dun & Bradstreet’s official website. After successfully filing, you will need to wait for 1 to 3 working days to receive an email attached with your DUNS code.


The following are some requirements that you should have in hand before applying for your DUNS number:

Full name of the owner
Business address
Legal business name
Structure of the business, whether it is a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship
Number of employees including total and part-timer


Sign up at

One of the crucial steps for bidding on prime contracts is registering on the System for Awards Management (SAM). Federal government agencies require every government contractor to be on the SAM’s database as their primary requirement for submitting bids for federal contracts. The reason is that it makes it easy for them to look up your business profile, capabilities, and qualifications.


Assuming that you own a small business that is part of the Small Business Administration’s small business program or 8(a) Development Program, you can also add it to your SAM profile to receive access to government contracts that are only available to small businesses.


One good thing about registering on SAM is that it is free of charge. All you need is the following:

DUNS Number
TIN or Taxpayer Identification Number
CAGE code (Contractor and Government Entity)
Employee Identification Number or EIN


Take advantage of the small business program

Together with the federal government, the Small Business Administration offers assistance to small businesses, called the 8(a) Development Program. On the small business program, any company under a specific socio-economic category such as woman-owned small business, minority-owned small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, and HUBZones may receive special assistance and consideration for federal contracts.


Additionally, Small Business Administration maintains a procurement scorecard to assess whether the government agency has successfully reached its contracting and subcontracting goals. Needless to say that the DoD was able to obtain the said scorecard making their department approachable to all socio-economic businesses.


Actively seek government contracting opportunities

You cannot expect prime contracts to instantly come into your hand, especially if you are just starting in the industry you need to approach them actively. is commonplace for when DoD posts its prime contract, but you may also use the official website to learn the current interests of the DoD and other departments.


Understand the rules

If you want to pursue the government contracting industry, having a deep understanding of their complex rules and regulations is required. The government agency, contracting officers, and prime contractors must strictly pass through a process to ensure that all are experiencing fair competition. So to avoid any disqualifications on the bidding process, you can read policies located at the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) beforehand.


Start bidding for your government contract

Of course, all your efforts and hard work will not pay off if you do not put them into action. Once you have gained the requirements mentioned above, get informed of their policies and submit a contract proposal.


Take note that the submission to a prime contract has a detailed process so prepare yourself to be strong in handling these situations. Also, do not get disappointed for not winning on your first try; the industry can give you extensive learning knowledge. So, if your proposal gets rejected, do not get discouraged, instead use it as your stepping stone as you bid for more prime contracts.


Consider subcontracting

The federal law requires large prime contractors to subcontract a portion of their work to a small business. That is why the SBA made a small business subcontracting program where small businesses are free to bid

small businesses seeking subcontracts can easily submit their proposals.


As a result, the SBA made the Subcontracting Network System or SubNet. The subNet is a free-to-use database that aims to bridge the gap between federal agencies seeking small businesses wanting contracting opportunities.


What is a prime contractor vs. a subcontractor?

To simply put in words, a prime government contractor is directly engaged with the client. In contrast, a subcontractor is hired by a prime government contractor to help complete the government contract. Be aware that when your business undergoes as a subcontractor, you are not working under an agreement with the federal government; perhaps, your company has a commercial contract with the prime contractor.


When a prime government contractor hires a subcontractor, there is no supervisor-subordinate relationship on doing the job. Both are hired to do a particular job, but subcontractors work for a specific task. One example is a prime government contractor is in charge of constructing an entire building, and a subcontractor may be responsible only for the plumbing.


The DoD prime contractors, on the other hand, usually become accessible when a federal contract requires a subcontracting plan. Large, prime contractors with federal contracts worth more than $700,000 are expected to have plans and objectives for subcontracting with small businesses.

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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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