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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How to sell your web design services to the government

By Bruce Dickinson 

Web and Internet professionals need to know how to find and bid on web design jobs projects the government has available, and that's why we are gathered here today.

Publically listed federal contracts allow competitive bidding
Photo license: Donnie Gladfelter, creative commons

Finding government jobs

The Federal government puts out bids for billions of dollars’ worth of contracts every year. If the contract is over $25,000, it will be publicly listed and you will have a chance to enter a bid – most of the time. Some contracts are "set aside" for veterans, women and other groups that have been identified as disadvantaged. If you or your business qualifies as a "special interest group" that is eligible for "set asides," it could help you land government contracts. The General Services Administration offers the detailed information you need.

There are two major hurdles you'll have to overcome to get into the game. The first is getting your business set up for bidding. The second is deciphering the jobs for which you are qualified. We'll start with finding jobs since you may want to explore possible opportunities before you decide whether or not it's worth your time to go through the qualification process.

Decoding the code

Just like any other website search, there's a basic search and an advanced search. Using the advanced search you'll be able to narrow down suitable jobs more easily. On the advanced search page you'll find the ability to search using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code or the Classification code.

Contract information is detailed via NAICS codes
Image license: Infocux Technologies ,creative commons

Try using each or all of these NAICS codes:
  • 519130 – Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals
  • 519 – Other Information Services
  • 519190 – All Other Information Services
TIP: Don't drive yourself crazy trying to understand why there is a code for "All Other Information Services" when there is also a code for "Other Information Services." Think of it as a Zen koan like "the sound of one hand clapping."

You can also use the Classification code search box. In that case, select "D – Information technology services, including telecommunications services."

The real detective work starts when you have a full screen of job or contract listings. Usually you'll have to download attached Word files or PDFs to get the detailed information you need to make a good decision. There's an ocean of bureaucratese to wade through here.

A recent search found government agencies that needed full time web programmers, companies to provide webcasts and other IT work.

Becoming qualified

Becoming a qualified business so that you can bid on and be awarded federal government contracts requires four basic steps. You need to register, have a Dun and Bradstreet number, complete an online representations and certifications application and be vetted and fingerprinted by the FBI.

This information should help you to decide if bidding on federal government jobs is a good match for your business. However, you've probably noticed that we have only talked about contacts greater than $25,000. There are smaller jobs available, but finding them is trickier.


About the author: Bruce Dickinson works with companies interested in selling their products and services to the government, guiding them through the complicated process. For additional help, visit GSAContract.com, which provides more details on the overall process of becoming a government contractor.