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Selling Products or Services to the Federal Government

September 12, 2016

The U. S. Government purchases $500 million worth every year!  The distinction of being a small business is important if you wish to register for government contracting.  Any small business can register in the System for Award Management (SAM).  

The SBA, for most industries, define a small business either in terms of the average number of employees over the past 12 months, or average annual receipts over the past three years. In addition, SBA defines a U.S. small business as a concern that:

  • Is organized for profit
  • Has a place of business in the US
  • Operates primarily within the U.S. or makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor
  • Is independently owned and operated
  • Is not dominant in its field on a national basis

The business may be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or any other legal form. In determining what constitutes a small business, the definition will vary to reflect industry differences, such as size standards.

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) classifies business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. economy.  The NAICS industry codes define establishments based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged.  NAICS codes are also used for administrative, contracting, and tax purposes.  NAICS is production oriented (not product oriented) and categorizes businesses with others that have similar methods of production.

SBA uses NAICS as a basis for its size standards.  Size standards using NAICS as their basis apply to all Federal government programs, including procurement.  When the Federal government intends to acquire goods or services, it identifies the NAICS code that describes the principal purpose of that procurement.  Your business may have myriad capabilities, and the NAICS code for a given procurement opportunity may not be the same as your primary NAICS code.  That will not keep you from bidding or making an offer, so long as you meet the size standard for the procurement and have the capacity to provide the goods or services.

 Before you can bid on government proposals, you need to obtain a Dun & Bradstreet, or D-U-N-S, Number, a unique nine-digit identification number for each physical location of your business. D-U-N-S Number assignment is free for all businesses required to register with the federal government for contracts or grants.

What do I need to get my D-U-N-S Number?

When registering for your D-U-N-S Number, you will need the following on hand:

  • Legal name
  • Headquarters name and address for your business
  • Doing Business As (DBA) or other name by which your business is commonly recognized
  • Physical address, city, state and ZIP Code
  • Mailing address (if separate from headquarters and/or physical address)
  • Telephone number
  • Contact name and title
  • Number of employees at your physical location
  • Whether you are a Home Based Business

How do I get my D-U-N-S Number?

Good news! Getting your D-U-N-S Number is easy. Visit D-U-N-S Request Service to obtain more detailed instructions on applying for your D-U-N-S Number.

The SBDC will be glad to assist any small business with government contracting.  Give us a call or stop by the BRC in downtown San Angelo.

“Business Tips” was written by Paul Howard, Certified Senior Business Advisor of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center.  For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact him at Paul.Howard@angelo.edu.