Simplified Acquisition Program White Paper: How the Simplified Acquisition Program Helps Small and Large Businesses Win Contracts

Part 1: The Problem

Small business government contractors are at a strong disadvantage in government contracting, because large businesses win about 80% of the $500 billion in federal contracts awarded each year. To succeed as government contractors and to get their fair share of the “contracting pie,” small businesses must have a complete and accurate System for Award Management (SAM) Registration, a federally formatted website, a clear marketing strategy, and immediate access to available contract awards. And as many small businesses know, part of having an accurate SAM Registration is completing the steps necessary to earn certification as a group for which contracts are set aside.

Part 2: The Back Story

Contracts are made available every day, and at least 23 percent of ALL available contracts are set aside (i.e., made available) for owners of small businesses. But the federal government, though required to make these contracts available, is not required to help small businesses properly register in the SAM or even help them put together a correct and complete bid proposal.

Part 3: The Solution

Enter the Simplified Acquisition Program, which is an unique way for small businesses to get ahead, get their share of contracting dollars, and succeed. The Simplified Acquisition Program is designed to make small businesses compliant with FAR 13 and the simplified acquisition environment. The Simplified Acquisition Program is designed to help both large and small businesses win government service contracts between $2,500 and $150,000 and commercial item purchases between $3,500 and $5,000,000. The Simplified Acquisition Program is a vital solution to becoming successful in the federal marketplace for small businesses looking to compete in the no bid-contracting arena.

Part 4: The Success

As a result of the Simplified Acquisition Program, small businesses around the country have won contracts that they previously would not have won, let alone bid on. And contractors enrolled in the program make very clear that without the program, they would not have enjoyed the contracting success that they have.

Part 5: The Answer

US Federal Contractor Registration, the world’s largest third-party government registration firm, created its Simplified Acquisition Program to help large and small businesses prepare for the federal marketplace. Completing a SAM Registration is only the first step on a company’s path to contracting success — a company also needs to market their business AND know how to best discover and bid on available contracts.

Part 1: The Problem

To make government contracting as attractive as possible for owners of small businesses, and to simplify the procurement process altogether, Congress developed legislation called the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 13, which described easier solutions of payment and simplified acquisition procedures. FAR 13 gave federal buyers a way to streamline smaller purchases of services and goods, thanks to the development of government purchase cards and a new simplified acquisition threshold.

With FAR 13 in place, and the contracting process more streamlined than ever, the Small Business Administration (SBA) discovered that around 70% of all government procurement transactions are for micro-purchases. As a result, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act and other statutory amendments removed competition restrictions on government purchases under $150,000, which made contract awards even simpler to make. The FAR 13 reduced administrative costs; promoted efficiency and economy in contracting; eliminated unnecessary burdens between buyers and contractors; and improved opportunities for small businesses, including those that qualify as small disadvantaged, women-owned, veteran-owned, HUBZone, and service-disabled veteran-owned.

In July 2012, the General Services Administration (GSA) merged the Central Contractor Registration with the Online Representations and Certification System and created the System for Award Management (SAM). While the government intended this merger to simplify the contracting process, it did the exact opposite, leaving many business owners unsure how to complete the SAM Registration, let alone continue as government contractors.

Many business owners attempted to handle their Registration on their own – and many still do today. In 2014, the Georgia Tech Procurement Office (GTPAC) “estimated that at least 20% of the 600,000 firms presently registered in the SAM Registration had errors … [including] misspelled words, empty data fields, incomplete entries, incorrect procurement codes, and other flaws.”

Companies with inaccurate SAM Registrations, due to incorrect or missing information, cannot win a government contract. It’s that simple. The GTPAC explains that they’re eliminated from consideration for not exhibiting “attention-to-detail” or because a procurement officer did not have enough information to identify them and the services and/or products they provide.

The SBA and PTAC offices around the country offer some assistance, but this assistance is extremely limited and does not include hands-on training, is often available at times when a business owner cannot easily leave his or her business (such as between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week), is often not available on weekends (when a business owner is likely most available), and does not include an expert actually completing and submitting the SAM Registration.

Enter US Federal Contractor Registration, the world’s largest third-party government registration firm. US Federal Contractor Registration, realizing that many small business owners just didn’t have enough time to learn how to accurately complete a SAM Registration, began offering these services. And companies, small and large, jumped at the chance to bring on an experienced and skilled team of acquisition specialists to not only take care of the Registration but also oversee marketing and other procurement-related efforts.

In 2015, US Federal Contractor Registration clients earned $1.9 billion in contracts, or just slightly more than 2 percent of the total contracts awarded to small businesses. While the amount of contracts awarded to small businesses has gone up since 2012, small businesses still aren’t getting their fair share of government contracts. And this is where taking advantage of Simplified Acquisitions can help.

Federal Contracts Awards 2012-2015

2012

All Contract Awards = $404,108,126,265

Contracts Awarded to Small Businesses = $89,923,198,457

Small businesses missed out on more than $314 billion in available federal contracts.

2013

All Contract Awards = $355,413,247,812

Contracts Awarded to Small Businesses = $83,142,807,957

Small businesses missed out on more than $272 billion in available federal contracts.

2014

All Contract Awards = $366,824,039,527.35

Contracts Awarded to Small Businesses = $91,681,658,658.85

Small businesses missed out on more than $272 billion in available federal contracts.

2015

All Contract Awards = $439,360,022,696

Contracts Awarded to Small Businesses = $90,701,727,944.11

Small businesses missed out on about $350 billion in available federal contracts.

Part 2: The Backstory

The Simplified Acquisition program was designed to help contractors win simplified acquisition contracts, which are contracts within the simplified acquisition threshold of between $3,500 and $150,000, and for commercial item purchases between $3,500 and $5,000,000.

These contracts are not required to be entered into Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) and the past performance retrieval system entirely.

Simplified acquisition contacts are:

  • Designed for small businesses
  • Can be awarded without the contracting officer referencing FAPIIS, since they are under the $150,000 threshold
  • Give an edge to businesses with limited or no past performance

Simplified Acquisition contracts offer an easier federal buying process for purchasing officers and small business vendors. Unlike a normal bid where vendors must supply an exact quotation for the requested (solicited) services and/or products, a simplified acquisition contract allows procurement officers to pay with SMART Pay Cards or blanket purchase agreements.

Simplified acquisition purchases, like micro-purchase agreements, can be issued immediately and in large volume if required. These types of purchases can be made via a no-bid or open-source sole-source contract, which means that if a procurement officer only finds one business that meets their contractual obligations, they can award their solicitation to that business.

The federal government spends between $440 billion and $540 billion each year on government contracts. Of these contracts, 23% percent are set aside strictly for properly registered small business government contractors. This 23% is then further broken down and set aside for contractors who meet specific requirements:

  • 5 percent of prime and subcontracts for women-owned small businesses
  • 5 percent of prime and subcontracts for Small Disadvantaged Businesses
  • 3 percent of prime and subcontracts for HUBZone small businesses
  • 3 percent of prime and subcontracts for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses
  • 7 percent for other total small business government contractors

The groups that are covered by these goals are small businesses, some with specific characteristics:

  • Small business concerns
  • Small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans
  • Qualified HUBZone small business concerns
  • Small business concerns owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals
  • Small business concerns owned and controlled by women

Part 3: The Solution

To address these issues and concerns, we researched the contracting methods that proved the most successful, and also interviewed contractors about the databases to which they attribute their success. We were surprised to learn how many contractors relied primarily on two databases and a straightforward, yet targeted marketing plan. Using this information, we developed our Simplified Acquisition Program, streamlining for our clients how they market their business, and how they learn about and bid on federal contracts.

The Simplified Acquisition Program provides small business contractors with tools to brand their business, network with government buyers, and win government contracts. Once enrolled, businesses can develop key relationships with purchasing officers identified with their list of Top Contracting Agents and Prime Contractors.

Clients who qualify for and enroll in our Simplified Acquisition Program get:

  • System for Award Management (SAM) Registration – The SAM database is the primary supplier database for the U.S. government. The database collects, validates, and stores contractor data, and makes this data to federal agencies and procurement officers. To receive a government contract, a business must have an accurate, current, and complete SAM Registration.
  • FedBizOpps (FBO) Notifications – Procurement officers are required to post solicitations and bid notices for contracts worth more than $25,000 in FBO. Clients enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program get email notices each time a contract is posted that calls for services and products they provide.
  • Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) – The DSBS is an internal database of small business government contractors who have been certified by the SBA under the 8(a) Business Development, HUBZone programs, and other federal set-asides. DSBS populates certain fields in the System for Award Management (SAM). Clients enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program are automatically added to the DSBS. Each DSBS profile includes:
    • Optimized SEO Keyword Searches
    • Work Experience/Past Performance
    • Matching Set-Aside Qualifications
    • Capabilities Narrative
    • Geographic Location
  • Direct Access to Buyers & Prime Vendors – Clients enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program get contact information of key prime contractors and government buyers who have solicited for the products and/or services they provide. Having this information means our clients can roll out a more directed and targeted marketing campaign.
  • Federally Formatted Website – Clients enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program receive a customized government-formatted website designed to bypass government spyware and firewalls and also include the information a procurement officer needs when awarding contracts. These federally formatted websites include:
    • Home Page
    • Vendor Profile
    • Capabilities Statement
    • Services Page
    • Past Performance
    • Photo Gallery
    • Contact Us Page
  • Access to Training – Clients enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program can access comprehensive training to learn about the different databases in which we’ve added their information, how to locate and bid on contracts, and how to follow-up on contracts that they do not win.

Case Studies

Below, we include case studies on two businesses who were new to government contracting prior to enrolling in our Simplified Acquisition Program and who enjoyed financial success. Keep in mind that for each of these clients, we completed their System for Award Management Registration, which is a requirement to become a federal contractor.

Greatrex Global Learning

Greatrex Global Learning makes available leadership development and training modules for businesses and agencies looking to develop structure. After enrolling in our Simplified Acquisition Program in August 2014, we rolled out for Greatrex Global Learning its federally formatted website, gave it a list of procurement officers in its industry, provided it with bid training, and created FBO and DSBS profiles.

With these profiles in place, the company received notices in their email each time a procurement officer posted a contract opportunity calling for their services, and enjoyed greater visibility to procurement officers, thanks to its DSBS profile.

Their federally formatted website also included information about the business, their capabilities, past performance, and primary contact information – all of which a procurement officer must know when awarding a contract.

We also provided Greatrex with a list of top procurement officers in their industry. This list included optimized contracting officers and prime contractors who may have subcontracting opportunities available. Greatrex received training on how to best position themselves and their services to the people and agencies on this list.

In September 2014, less than one month after enrolling in our Simplified Acquisition Program, Greatrex Global Learning received a $27,900 contract from the NSA/DoD. Also that month, the company received a $17,500 contract from the Office of the Secretary of Defense – Pentagon. In January 2015, it received a $22,350 contract from the Department of the Navy.

So, in six months, the company – who had never before attempted to bid on government contracts until after enrolling in our Simplified Acquisition Program – received $67,750 in federal contracts.

Acquisition Specialist John Lynch assisted Greatrex Global Learning with the initial qualification process, SAM Registration, and the government marketing preparation for entry into the federal marketplace.

You can view these contracts and more won by Greatrex Global Learning via the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), which makes available information about previously awarded contracts, contract winners (aka potential competitors), NAICS Codes for which contracts were awarded, and more.

Robert Doscher Associates

Robert Doscher Associates aka RDA National, Inc., a woman-owned small business (WOSB), enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program in December 2013. That year, WOSBs were awarded more than $15 billion, or about 4.32% of the $464 billion awarded in all contracts. The company enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program because they wanted their fair share of the contracting pie.

Acquisition Specialist Johnathan Maness made clear that the better and more targeted they marketed their business, the more success they’d enjoy – and he was right. We launched their federally formatted website in December 2013, and, over the next five months, updated it with information about their services, past performance, and company successes. The better and more robust your federally formatted website, the better you’ll look to a procurement officer. We also created a highly effective DSBS profile for the company. This profile included information about its ownership, NAICS codes, contact information, federally formatted website, and its certification as a small disadvantaged, women-owned business.

In June 2014, six months after enrolling in our Simplified Acquisition Program, and less than seven weeks after finalizing its website, Robert Doscher Associates received a $23,000 contract from the department of the Navy in Centerport, NY. Over the next few months, it earned contracts valued at more than $147,196, and on the company’s one-year anniversary enrolled in the program, it was closing in on $200,000 in government contracts.

Despite this clear success, each business mentioned above would have missed out on their contract awards because, prior to enrolling in our Simplified Acquisition Program, they were making one or more of the following mistakes:

  • They did not have a DUNS Number.
  • They did not have a SAM Registration.
  • They did not have a CAGE Code.
  • They were not marketing to government agencies.
  • They did not have a federally formatted website.

Part 4: The Success

As an overwhelmingly number of government contractors enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program, our theories about how to best help small businesses succeed were proven true. We give our clients the tools they need to survey the federal landscape, search for new contracts, prepare a bid proposal, and pitch their products/services to government buyers.

Our Simplified Acquisition Program is for businesses of all sizes, and not tailored to businesses who meet specific size requirements. The program is also open to companies regardless of the products and services they provide. Our Simplified Acquisition Program is no one-size-fits-all opportunity; instead, we tailor the program to best position our client for contracting success.

We include below a partial list of companies who enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program and enjoyed contracting success:

DLP Enterprises: $1,615,531

ECSI International: $1,499,992

Progress Solar Solutions: $965,386

United Grinding Technologies: $916,356

Fabricare Draperies: $817,498

AGM Container Controls, Inc: $801,394

Mac Made Easy, Inc.: $641,244

Suburban Surgical Company, Inc.: $556,380

Robert F. Audit, Inc.: $479,184

Creative Tent International, Inc.: $422,209

CAMF, Inc.: $394,437

Emergency 911 Security, Inc.: $370,172

SEACON Advanced Products, LLC: $240,000

Kingsbury, Inc: $189,000

Amerigas Propane LP: $113,000

Big Sky Industrial: $108,000

PCB International, LLC: $80,000

Heating and Air Conditioning Services: $79,117

Robert Doscher Associates $58,837

Conklin & de Decker Associates Inc.: $48,119

SciAps Inc.: $47,800

Otto Environmental: $46,266

MinnPar: $45,000

Gary Wolfe Toxicology, LLC: $37,500

Straight Stripe Painting, Inc.: $24,000

Ever-Green Communications Services, Inc.: $20,991

The Stage Depot: $18,075

Part 5: The Answer

Clients enrolled in our Simplified Acquisition Program win government contracts, just by implementing the right strategy. Our Simplified Acquisition Program provides advanced registration support, leading-edge marketing, and professional technical support services.

After the first year of making the program available, we surveyed enrolled contractors about the program and how it helped them succeed. We discovered

  • Businesses interested in branding their business and establishing their services in the federal marketplace were pleased with the results of the Simplified Acquisition Program.
  • The program provided all of the tools required to fully develop a vendor’s federal brand and outreach.
  • Having a comprehensive list of buyers that have a history of purchasing specific services gave businesses information about buyers who were interested in their products and/or services.
  • Having a federally formatted website in place helped businesses more aggressively market their business, and also helped procurement officers more easily learn about the business.
  • Having a DSBS profile made a procurement officer connecting with a contract easy to do.
  • Businesses enrolled in the Simplified Acquisition Program earned more contracts on average than businesses who weren’t enrolled in the program.
  • Enrolled clients reported higher receipts year over year, thanks to having access to federal contracts.