See the opportunities in selling to the government
By Tim Riley, GovernmentBids.com
If you are a company looking to efficiently market your goods or services, increase sales and receive targeted sales opportunities, or if you are a government agency looking to simplify your procurement process and increase vendor competition, there exists plenty of opportunities in today's online government procurement marketplace.
Global Insight, a leading economic and financial forecasting firm, states that all levels of government (Federal & State/Local) should see steady increases in the purchases of goods and services at least through the year 2009.
Vendors willing to make the commitment to sell to government can reap the benefits of this projected government spending. By the same token, government agencies able to expand and modernize their procurement programs can reap the rewards of increased productivity, and a reduction in the costs of goods and services.
Vendors: Consider selling to Government
If you haven't considered selling to government, youíre missing out. With past events like the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the fluctuations in the private sector economy, more companies are focusing on doing business with government agencies. Believe it or not, the most reliable component of the economy is the government, with the Federal government alone awarding a contract every 20 seconds of every working day.
The U.S. Federal Government is the largest buyer in the world, and state and local governments often make up a large percentage of their respective marketplaces. In many cities, government employs more people and buys more products and services that any other entity.
Doing business with governments isn't just for corporate giants, either. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) helps to ensure that small businesses obtain a certain percentage of everything the government buys. And despite budget crunches in many municipalities, state and local government spending remains the largest in any single market in the nation.
Deciding whether to bid on a government contract can have far-reaching and long-term implications for companies. It is crucial to reach the right decision - a decision which contributes to the health of an organization. If a company decides to bid, it is creating an opportunity to make money, enhance its reputation, gain experience and cement a relationship with a major new customer.
Where do vendors start?
There are literally tens of thousands of purchasing agencies to deal with, making it difficult to know where to begin. Unfortunately, bidding for lucrative government contracts is a highly decentralized process. Companies used to have to be on an agency's bidding list in order to be notified of a purchasing opportunity.
Now, with the expansion of electronic government and recent government initiatives encouraging agencies to implement online procurement systems, many agencies are making the move to e-procurement. However, even with this move to online purchasing, identifying targeted bids can still be very challenging for companies.
Finding and monitoring bid notices is difficult because they are posted in so many different places and often not well organized. Your business can spend a great deal of time surfing from one site to the next trying to track down the right bid opportunities.
In one area of government bidding, however, an effort to create a government-wide point of entry web site has resulted in an Internet purchasing marketplace called FedBizOpps. As of October 1, 2001 the Federal government requires federal agencies to use this system to post all their opportunities expected to exceed $25,000.
Although no such central web site exists for the over 87,000 state and local government agencies in the country, there are services available that match a company's criteria with agency bids on the Internet, then send this information directly to them via email.
While no service can provide your company with every bid opportunity from every state and local government agency, bid matching services greatly reduce a vendor's time and money spent, allowing for additional time to be used to respond to bids.
eProcurement benefits for Government: Save time, save money
In the recent past most agencies had to copy and mail their bid packages to any vendor who requested them, even though many would decide not to bid. Using an online eProcurement system allows agencies to simply provide vendors an electronic notice of their opportunities. This results in a tremendous savings in postage, paper and time.
There have also been new efforts to simplify the entire procurement process for government agencies. For example, many agencies are having procurement systems customized for them using the Internet, driven by the need to disclose. Agencies used to be required to advertise all their requests for bids in the newspaper. But in recent years, the statutes in many states have changed to permit advertising on the Web instead - which meets purchasing departments' requirements to make contract information public.
While posting bid information may seem like a lot of work, it isn't a duplicate process for government agencies because their sites serve a dual role, as a vehicle for disclosure and as their primary document archive. And usually only a minimal staff is required to keep the site up to date.
Many companies have been working with Purchasing Departments, to create customized eProcurement systems like the ones described, which simplify and expedite the entire procurement process for both the agency and the vendors.
Vendors are then able to simply register themselves online with a system and create a profile specific to their products and/or services. Vendors then can receive instant email notices every time bids are issued that match their profile and are given the ability to respond to quotes by email.
Systems like this can save companies significant amounts of time while increasing sales and are also a good way for tax dollars to help grow businesses of all sizes. At the same time, government agencies benefit by decreasing their spending, gaining more control and simplifying the procurement process.
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Popular terms (Glossary)
Contract Award: Occurs when the contracting officer has signed and distributed the contract to, or notified the contractor.
Commerce Business Daily: A Department of Commerce publication used by federal agencies to publish a summary or synopsis of their upcoming procurements to notify interested businesses. Now largely replaced by the Fedbizopps internet site.
RFP - Request for Proposal: A process where an agency or government can seek a specific proposal from vendors. Follows a specifications process and formalized set of standards and procedures. Generally seeks less vendor input than an RFI but more than an RFQ.†
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