Finding Subcontracting Opportunities
Finding subcontracting business is a bit like finding prime contracting business: you can focus on the bids as they come out (and be a part of the crowd), or you can get ahead of the game by talking to the right people BEFORE the bids come out. Let’s begin with the former strategy.
Where do you go to find subcontracting bids? One place to check is SBA’s SUB-net: http://web.sba.gov/subnet. Last time I checked there were 43 subcontracting bids posted there. Now, that’s not a lot of activity when consider how many federal subcontracting opportunities there are on any given day.
Why only 43? Here’s one reason: prime contractors don’t want the entire world of subcontractors coming at them and creating unnecessary work. They like working with companies that have performed well in the past. For many contracts, primes don’t need to look beyond their circle of “friends,” those with whom they have a shared history, etc. — which leads us to our next section.
At large businesses, subcontracting coordinators are somewhat analogous to government buyers. Often you need to market to these folks so that you’re a part of the planning before a contract is awarded or, better yet, before a solicitation is posted.
Second: getting to the right person
Once you’ve found the right company, now you have to get to the right person. If the name of the subcontracting coordinator is a mystery, call the prime’s main corporate number and ask for the government contracting organization. The manager of this unit will get you to the subcontracting coordinator (if they have one) or the end-user.
For large contract awards, chances are you can get to a winning company’s subcontracting coordinator without too much difficulty. Large companies tend to have subcontracting coordinators on staff because they’re not only necessary but also required by law. (Under federal regulations (i.e., the FAR) contracting officers require large businesses that win contracts valued greater than $500,000 (construction contracts in excess of $1,000,000) to submit a small business subcontracting plan. The plan includes the name of the person who will administer the program on behalf of the large business.)
Ideally, the coordinator will already have your capabilities on file from a previous visit, and now you’re calling about the specific contract, or promising bid opportunity, you saw announced at FedBizOpps, a state site, a local site, etc.
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