Back 2 Basics_Agency Research
So whenever my staff and I are out doing a workshop, one of the most frequent questions I get is “The government buys so much, where do I start looking first?”. Well I always think this question is “loaded”, so my initial response is, “Have you identified which agency is buying what you are selling”? A few say yes, but the vast majority say no. Frankly, I wish more respondents said no than yes, because I believe the one’s that said yes, wouldn’t be asking me the question, if they had initially done their intelligence gathering.
So what is the correct answer? Well, when it comes to doing your government contracting homework, you must FIRST determine what you, as the organization, are going to offer to the government, then determine who is buying what you are trying to sell and when are they buying it. Just dedicating a few hours to really understanding your government buyer is going to save you time and money on the front end. Whether you do the research yourself or hire someone to do the research for you really depends on your budget, but it is money well spent.
So once you have decided on what you are going to sell to the government, determine the NAICS code for that product or service. Once you have identified your NAICS you can then start logging onto USASpending.gov to do your initial research. Yes, you can use FPDS, but I find it to be a bit intimidating, if you are not familiar with government procurement. I always start with USASpending.gov and end my searches in FPDS. That way I am cross referencing my information. Plus, USASpending.gov is a lot easier to navigate and 9 times out of 10 can get you what you are looking for quickly.
So in your initial search stages, here are some of the intel you should be looking for:
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- Types of Spending (Contracts, Grants, Direct Payments)
- Which Agencies bought your product or service
- Fiscal Year Spending
- PSC (Product Service Code) for more drill down
- Contractors offering that service or product
- Purchasing location
If you can answer ALL of these areas, you are well underway with developing the foundations of your capture strategy
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