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Contracting with the government or government agencies is generally based on the same principles as commercial contracting, but with some key differences. When entering into contracts with state, local, or federal government entities, the government is considered an “agent” of the people served by the agency or government.

Because of this public responsibility, many of the details of contracting, as well as rules and regulations pertaining to establishing specifications, the bidding process and the award or selection process are carefully defined by statute. This also means that the process is largely open to public scrutiny and is very structured.

The first step in doing business with the government is finding the opportunites, and that, of course, is what specializes in. Once you have selected an opportunity that makes sense for your business, find out everything you can about the bid, including details of possible pre-bid meetings, extra documentation, etc. It is often adviseable to contact the bidding agency directly to introduce yourself personally.

Your goal is to know all the details of the bid and the bidding process, so that you have the best possible opportunity to make your bid timely, complete and in compliance with all requirements. While having the lowest bid price is certainly important, in most cases, government purchasers will also consider their "comfort level" with the vendor. If you are informed, accurate, on time and professional, your bid has a much better chance of getting "to the table" and being seriously considered.

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Watch Overview and Periscope S2G are powered by mdf commerce, offering a range of services in government contracts, government RFPs, government bids and government procurement systems.

Selling to the government

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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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