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Landing work with government agencies can take some time and isn’t the easiest thing to do, but businesses with high-quality services shouldn’t count themselves out of the running. With the right steps in place, it’s entirely possible to get great work that may have seemed unobtainable before.
Because governments have a number of restrictions on who they can hire, there are several things that you must do before you can be legitimately considered. As the owner of Transcription Outsourcing, I’ve taken all of these steps, and our agency has gotten a significant number of government contracts as a result. Now I’m going to show you how you can do it, too.
Become a legal business entity.
The first step in this process is to become a legal business entity by obtaining a business license and all required federal permits for your industry. Some businesses overlook this because their states don’t require it simply to do the work. However, if you want a contract with a government agency, it’s required.
Whether you’re an independent freelancer or a small business, go online and find your state’s registry and file that business license paperwork. It’s easy to do, and all you need is a simple LLC (though you can use different business structures if you prefer).
After you do this, file for an EIN (employee identification number) with the IRS. This will act like your business’s social security number and is important come tax time.
Become CJIS compliant.
Government agencies, unsurprisingly, take security very seriously, and that means they need their contractors to take security seriously. To be eligible for government work, you must be CJIS compliant.
The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) security policy is a joint program with the CJIS Systems Agency, the State Identification Bureaus and the FBI. It outlines security precautions that must be taken in order to protect sensitive information. It outlines everything from encryption requirements to only having U.S. citizens accessing the information.
Obtain a D-U-N-S number.
A D-U-N-S number is a nine-digit identification number that’s unique to each physical location of your business. It’s a requirement to do work with government agencies to show that your business is independent of any others, and it can also help prevent mixups. Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) will give you a D-U-N-S number within one business day for free.
Register in SAM.
Register on the System to Award Management (SAM) site, which is an official site of the U.S. federal government. You can only do this after obtaining your D-U-N-S number.
SAM allows you to register your business so that you can become eligible for federal work, and it also gives you the option to look for new opportunities and assistance programs and to report new subcontractor information. Government contracting and grant officials can review a business’s past performance reporting here and use the database when making contracting and grant decisions.
It’s a good idea for most businesses to obtain insurance in general, and it can help set you apart when you’re trying to earn work with different government agencies. Some may require it, though it’s good to have even if they don’t.
I recommend having a policy for at least one million dollars in general liability, which will protect you and your clients. It’s also a good idea to have a cyber liability policy, too, as most work done for and with the government will go online at some point in the process. This protects you and them.
Start looking for opportunities.
Once you’ve gotten all the way through the five steps detailed above, you’re ready to get started looking for new opportunities with the agencies that you most want to work with.
Reach out to any connections you might have who actually work in government jobs. They’ll sometimes be able to get your business’s proposal listed on top or tip you off to any projects that haven’t been posted yet. You should also look for listings online, including through SAM, and by checking your local government entities for any opportunities. There are quite a few websites that you can pay for that will send you email alerts when new government opportunities become available in your desired niche. The jobs are out there, and now it’s time to go looking for them.
Speaking from experience, government agencies are exceptional to work with. They pay well, the work is good and there’s a lot of credibility that comes with those contracts. Since so many businesses don’t take the extra steps to become eligible, anyone who does immediately has a leg up for those contracts, as well as all other high-stakes, high-security jobs.
June 10, 2019 at 08:04AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs