Business owners who want to pursue government contracts shouldn’t be discouraged, says Mary Lynn Langraf, senior international trade specialist for the U.S. Department of Commerce/OTEXA. Langraf presented a detailed discussion Sept. 26 at IFAI Expo 2017, emphasizing that the textile industry is a robust area of interest for government procurements.
The first step in securing a government contract is registering in the System for Award Management (SAM). Langraf emphasized that this is a free service and no outside agency is needed to register with SAM.
From there, companies can register with the General Service Administration (GSA), where small businesses make up 36 percent of sales. The medium time for a company to acquire its first contract in 12 months. Participants are required to take the “Pathway to Success” training, either live or online, at a cost of $190.
“Buy American” is an extremely important government initiative right now. Textile companies are already familiar with the Berry Amendment, which stipulates that the industrial base is kept in the U.S. during times of war. In 2016, Langraf says, $1.7 billion was spent on military personnel, which included 8,000 different items.
OTEXA can match companies to military needs, and Langraf says keeping one’s eyes on innovation is key. “What’s new” is important, says Langraf. “If your product sells commercially, can it work for the military?”
The Buy American Executive Order was signed by President Donald Trump in April, encouraging a theme of “Buy American and hire American.” Langraf says the order will be acquiring more “teeth” as time passes.
Langraf closed her presentation with these pointers:
- If you’re serious about government contracting, check FedBizOpps every day.
- If you’re not registered properly on SAM, you won’t be paid or your payment will be delayed.
- Offers of companies to help you register on SAM or GSA are a no-no. Buyers beware!
- Work with your PTAC office and consult with them often.
- Consider taking some classes on contracting if you’re serious. The National Contract Management Association is a great resources to learn about new events and education opportunities: http://www.ncmahq.org/learn-and-advance/events-education.