If you’ve even considered getting a start in government contracting, you’ve probably heard of Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps.gov). It’s the go-to site for finding federal procurements that are right for you. And as a federal contractor, it’s your best friend.
Or is it really?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to tell you FedBizOpps is a bad site or that you shouldn’t be using it at all. But what I am saying is that if your business strategy depends heavily on Fed Biz Opps, you’re in for some problems. Maybe you’re already running into trouble with the site.
So what I want to do here is let you know about some of the problems you might run into on Fed Biz Opps. Hopefully, it should help you consider your options and win some juicy contracts pretty soon. Let’s get started.
1) Too Much Competition
This is simple enough. If you and all the competition are checking FBO.gov for the newest government procurements, everybody in your industry knows about it as soon as it appears.
If everybody already knows about these procurements, you’ll be facing stiff competition on every contract. That means two things: more effort on your part to stand out from the crowd, and less reward as the competition drives your prices down.
It’s far better to find a way to learn about these procurements before the government ever puts them up for competition. Otherwise, you’ll get buried in the rush of companies that didn’t plan ahead and got stuck chasing contracts.
2) Not Enough Warning
By the time a federal contract goes live on their website, you’ve usually got a month or two to send in a bid proposal. Now, maybe that’s enough time for you to get together a proposal that stands out from the competition and maybe it isn’t. But it’s definitely not enough time for you to fit the contract into a long-term plan.
That’s the real problem with chasing contracts on FedBizOpps: you put yourself in the position of reacting to the opportunities that are given to you. What you want is to find the opportunities that are hidden away.
3) Not Enough Postings
I know this probably sounds silly, considering the tens of thousands of government procurements that go up on FedBizOpps. But here’s the fact: only about a third of government contracts are ever competed.
That means the vast majority of government contracts are decided before they ever make it onto the open market. A company that’s trying to pick up contracts from Fed Biz Ops is a company that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Again: less than a third of federal procurements ever make it to fbo govs. And the ones that do make it are so heavily competed that your odds of winning are pretty slim.
4) Contacts are Often Obligated Not to Help You
Although it’s great that most postings on fbo.gov give you a government contact, these usually aren’t the people you want to get in touch with. Most of the time they’re contract officers who are obligated to be impartial decision-makers (and as a result can’t help you through the procurement process).
If you want guidance through the process, the government offers Small Business Advocates and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs). But you won’t find information on contacting them on the Fed Biz site. So if it’s guidance you’re looking for, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
5) No State and Local Procurements
This will be a problem unless you’re exclusively interested in federal procurements. But if you’re looking for state and local procurements as well, FedBizOpps isn’t going to be any help to you.
The practical upshot of this is that you have to comb federal, state, and local sites while you’re looking for the procurements that best suit your company’s abilities. That can result in time wasted, opportunities missed, and contracts lost.
6) No Spending Forecasts
This goes back to what we were talking about earlier, about the way depending on FedBizOpps for your procurements doesn’t give you the chance to plan ahead. But the federal government plans ahead, and many contracts are “on the radar” months or even years before they go up on FedBizOpps. (If they go up on there.)
If you can find government spending forecasts (or if you can get an early warning about upcoming government procurements) you can get your long-term plans together. You can work with the government to position your company to be awarded contracts. You can stop chasing contracts and have them start coming to you.
7) The Federal Government Tries to Avoid Competition
Let’s face it: the federal government would rather not deal with the hassle of having to get a stack of proposals and have to make a decision. They may be The Government, but that still doesn’t mean they love going through forms and paperwork.
That’s why only about a third of federal contracts are ever competed on Fed Biz. The government doesn’t like going through the effort of competing a contract only to end up working with a newcomer of a company they’ve never worked with before.
So if you’re looking to break into government contracting, you’re facing an uphill battle if you’re planning on competing in an open market.
8) Postings are Probably “Baked”
Many government contracts are already pretty much decided by the time they appear on FedBizOpps. The federal government is required to allow its quota of contracts to be freely and openly competed, but even these often go to companies that have worked with the government before.
So not only are you trying to win contracts against stiff competition, but you’re trying to win contracts against stiff competition that may already be virtually guaranteed the contract.
The trick here is to be the first one on the scene, so you can prove your company’s worth to the federal government and win more contracts in the future.
9) Doesn’t Help You Get on the Radar
This is pretty much what all the previous points lead up to: your goal is to start showing up on the government’s radar, and FedBizOpps is the wrong way to do it. There’s too much competition, too little warning, and not enough opportunity to get in touch with the right people.
If you want to work with the federal government, the biggest hurdle to get over is winning that first contract. Going through Fed Biz forces you to chase contracts you probably won’t win, and it puts you in a position where you’re putting out too much effort for not enough gain. You’ll want to find another way.
10) Too Much Research
Last of all, hunting for procurements on Fed Biz Opps forces you to go out of your way. The point is that you want to get the contracts coming to you.
Digging through the FBO site is no way to do that. Trying to come up with just the right search terms to get just the right procurements is no way to do that. Sending in faceless bid after a faceless bid is no way to do that.
ALternatively, You can try the TendersPage search engine and get the latest public procurements sent right to your inbox with no-brainer.
If you had an issue with the FBO website, feel free to share it with us in the comments.