FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We do not charge for our services. We are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency.
We offer a wide range of government contracting assistance including, but not limited to market research; bid and proposal assistance; bid matching; solicitation review; registration assistance with government databases; government codes, regulations, and requirements; small business programs and certifications. We offer many other services related to government contracting as well.
APEX Accelerator considers a business to be ready for government contracting when it meets the following criteria:
1) Has been in business for at least 1 year
2) Business is registered with SC Secretary of State
3) Has a product or service to sell to the government
5) Business is in good standing
6) The business is ready and has the resources to successively fulfill a government contract if offered one on that day
* If you meet the criteria above, register to become a client here.
- Obtain a DUNS number
- Find your NAICS codes and Product Service Codes
- Register with the System for Award Management (SAM)
- Work with a PTAC counselor
- Pursue opportunities
- Search bids or sign up for the bid match service with PTAC SC
- Seek sub-contracting or partnering opportunities
- Build relationships
- Attend webinars, training workshops and networking opportunities
- It is ok to start with a smaller contract than you would prefer. It will build past performance.
- Take reasonable steps. If you are at $50,000 in sales, don’t take on a $300,000 contract unless you are partnering with someone or have done it before in another capacity.
- Don’t stretch yourself too thin. Remember past performance is important. You can also run out of cash.
- Support with bid package preparation.
- Pre/post-award contract assistance.
- Aid with electronic commerce/electronic data interchange.
- Guidance for small minority, women-owned, and disabled veteran certifications.
- Referrals to other programs or activities to support businesses when appropriate.
Due to limited resources, we are restricted in the services we can provide to start-up companies. We offer a broad variety of training via live classes and on-demand webinars. We also offer a comprehensive resource page for new businesses to self-direct their learning. If you need assistance with getting your business set up or want advice on a business plan, you may contact your local SBDC or SCORE counselor for assistance.
Working with APEX Accelerator does not guarantee a contract. This depends on you and your willingness to invest time and resources. On average it takes 12-18 months to secure your first government contract, again, some may receive contracts sooner.
APEX Accelerator helps individuals and nonprofit organizations with the basic processes or database registrations that are required to do business with the federal government. However, we do not provide grant or loan assistance. The mission of PTAC SC is to help businesses do business with government.
Named for a section of the Small Business Act, it is a business development program created to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the American economy and access the federal procurement market.
To be eligible, the applicant firm:
- must be a small business
- must be unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and citizens of the United States, and
- must demonstrate potential for success.
- personal net worth cannot exceed $250,000
- must have been in business for 2 years (evidence by tax returns.)
The HUBZone Empowerment Contracting Program was adopted to stimulate economic development and create jobs in urban and rural communities by providing federal contracting preferences to small businesses. These preferences go to small businesses that obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff that live in a HUBZone and maintain a “principal office” in one of these specially designated areas. [A principal office can be different from a company headquarters]. The program resulted from provisions contained in the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997. Visit the HUBZone website.
The Federal Procurement Data Center reports statistics on procurement for more than 70 federal agencies. Some federal, state, and local government agencies, military installations and prime contractors publish procurement directories and forecasts on their websites.
Federal, state, and local government agencies buy everything from toothpicks and cleaning services to spaceships and cancer research. The key is to determine which government agencies buy the products and/or services you sell and to develop a focused marketing strategy targeting those agencies. Look for opportunities that you are interested in and see what company was awarded the last contract and the terms – you can search https://www.usaspending.gov/ or SAM Contract Opportunities for recent awards.
All departments and agencies of the federal government are required to post contracting opportunities and award information relating to opportunities that are valued over $25,000. In general, the home page of each federal organization will contain a link for business opportunities. Some organizations are now posting opportunities valued below $25,000.
Where and how do government agencies publicize contracting opportunities and at what dollar threshold?
All federal agencies are required to publicize bidding opportunities on FedBizOpps when the purchase is expected to exceed $25,000, so anyone with Internet access can find out about these opportunities. The dollar-level requirements for state and local agencies vary, so it is important to research this on each entity’s purchasing website.
Yes. The federal government requires the completion of a mandatory registration: the System for Award Management Registration (SAM). SAM is a free registration and must be renewed annually. Many state and local agencies require companies to become registered directly with them to be eligible vendors for contracting. This information typically can be found on individual agency websites.
The System for Award Management (SAM) is the official registration required prior to bidding on a contract with any federal government agency. It is the primary registrant database for the U.S. Federal Government. SAM collects, validates, stores and disseminates data in support of agency acquisition missions. SAM uses this information to perform Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). This requirement covers all federal agencies. PTAC SC can assist with completing the SAM registration process. If you’re tech-savvy and would like to complete the process on your own visit https://www.sam.gov. It is quick and user friendly. Click on the “help” tab and download the registration screenshots for more information.
The Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code is a five-character ID code using letters and numbers. This code is important in order to be awarded federal contracts. The code is not needed for state or local contracts. Once the SAM registration process is completed and validated, a CAGE code will be issued to you via email. Please be aware that SAM validation time could vary, taking anywhere from two to three weeks. PTAC SC can assist with completing the SAM registration process.
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is used widely in all types of business activity. The NAICS code identified a class of service or a product area. The Federal government links contract business, size standards etc. to the NAICS code. To find the NAICS code(s) that pertains to your business go online at http://www.census.gov/naics.
No. In many instances the government awards the contract to the company that provides the best value, and this does not necessarily mean the company offering the lowest price. Other factors such as technical capability, past performance and quality may also be considered. PTAC can help you interpret a request for bid or proposal so that you understand which evaluation factors will be used in determining who gets the contract.
- Always request a debriefing.
- Ask who won the contract.
- Ask how you can improve for the next opportunity.
- Ask about what future opportunities will be available.
- If you feel there are opportunities with that agency for small purchases with companies like yours and you feel your contact was not interested in your business, identify if cold calling purchasing/departments would be appropriate. You can often find these contacts by doing creative searches on their websites or calling the general number on their website.
- Build relationships (support their goals; don’t do pressure sales).
- If all else fails, review your marketing plan.
1225 Laurel Street
Columbia, SC 29201
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The Procurement Technical Assistance Center of South Carolina is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency.
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