Anyone who wants to get into government contracting is going to run into FedBizOpps. There’s no way around it. The next question most of us will have next is:
“How do I use FedBizOpps (FBO.gov) to find government contracts?”
If you’re looking for the answer to this and more, then you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll take you from start to finish on FBO. After reading this, you will know...
- How to Create a FedBizOpps Account
- The Best Ways to Find Opportunities
- How to Save Your Searches on FedBizOpps
- What to do when you’ve found a solicitation
- The limits of FBO.gov
What is FedBizOpps?
In the most basic sense, FedBizOpps (short for Federal Business Opportunities, sometimes known as FBO) is where contracting officers will post opportunities that are valued at over $25,000. Think of it as a place online where government agencies can post “Help Wanted” ads for contractors. However, that’s not all that FBO.gov does.
You can also use this site to keep track of upcoming opportunities by searching for presolicitations or sources sought. There are also features that allow you to keep track of any changes made to solicitations. Finally, some resources on FBO can be used towards researching past awarded contracts.
To get most out of FedBizOpps, you will need to...
Create a FedBizOpps Account
You don’t need an account to search FedBizOpps. However, it’s highly recommended if you’re serious about government contracting and growing your business.
With an account you can:
- Receive email notifications based on your keywords and search criteria
- Monitor pending contracts
- Create a watch list for opportunities
- Join interested vendors lists
Making your own account on FedBizOpps isn’t that difficult to do. In fact, if you’re already have a System for Award Management registration, most of the work has already been done.
Follow the steps below to create an account. If you already have an account, continue to the next section.
You’re on your way to getting awarded a government contract. Now, all you have to do is to find the right opportunity for your business.
Searching FedBizOpps for Government Contracts
Now it’s time to start using FedBizOpps to help you make money and grow your business. If you can’t find the right opportunity, you’re not going to get anywhere in the federal marketplace. If you’re logged into your account, you will find that the Opportunities bar will be the third to the right otherwise it will be on the fourth. Click on it, and let’s begin.
You will find all opportunities that have been posted in the last 90 days.
We’ll have to narrow down our search…unless you actually want to spend to the time to read through every last notice posted on FedBizOpps. To the right of “Opportunities List,” you will find “Advanced Search.”
Scrolling below, you will find various criteria. Some of it will be useful, some of it will not. We’re going to guide you on how to effectively search for an opportunity.
On the first level of the Advanced Search, you will find four search criteria. This consists of the Posted Date, Place of Performance State, Place of Performance Zip Code and the Documents to Search.
In the Posted Date, you will find a time frame in which contracting officers put their opportunities on FedBizOpps. The more recent an opportunity, the more time you’ll usually have to prepare for it. The Place of Performance State will also include U.S. territories and there will also be a non-U.S. option. To find an opportunity to bid on, you will search by Active Documents. If you want to do market research by obtaining info on past contracts, then click on Archived Documents.
To find an opportunity to bid on, you will search by Active Documents. If you want to do market research by obtaining info on past contracts, then click on Archived Documents.
If you’ve already registered for your set-asides, then you will know which ones to check off. If you’re not familiar with set-asides, it’s basically a program enacted by the federal government to get small businesses more involved with federal contracting. From the over $500 billion that gets awarded every year, about 23% of is solely awarded to small businesses.
There are different quotas for different types of small businesses working with the federal government. Here’s the list on FedBizOpps:
On the list provided by FBO, the ones below will be the most relevant. Links for assistance with these certifications are also provided:
- Total Small Business
- Competitive 8(a)
- Veteran-Owned Small Business / Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business
- Women-Owned Small Business / Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business
Opportunity/Procurement Type Section
Many of the selection criteria listed will be at different points in the contract’s lifecycle. The following will be the ones you want to pay the most attention to when searching:
The opportunity is live and you can bid on it. If it’s in your realm of expertise, now is the time to ask the point of contact questions and to get a well-written proposal ready. However, it’s best to know about an opportunity before it gets to this phase
How would you find out?
This means that the government has a general concept for a contract, but they’re testing the waters before they decide to get to work on creating a solicitation. You can respond to sources sought notice and get placed on an interested vendors list.
Sometimes an opportunity doesn’t make it past the sources sought phase. When it does, a presolicitation notice will be given as a preview for an upcoming solicitation.
Changes occur frequently for contract solicitations in both the public or private sectors. Sometimes they can be major, other times it can just be the correction of a spelling error. Stay on top of changes so that you can stay compliant with a solicitation’s requirements.
Use this option if you are searching to work with a specific federal government agency. As you’re starting out in government contracting, you’re not going to really need this field as you’re trying to search based on who needs your goods or services.
Later on down the line, as you start to build relationships, then you will want to search by the agencies in which you’ve worked with before. By this time, you will have a solid idea of who wants what. In that case, you will select the Specific Agency/Office/Location.
All you have to do to search in this field would be to the partial name of the agency. An example of this would be if you typed in, “Department of Agriculture.”
At the top, there would be the exact match for what you typed in for the agency as a whole, but there will also be other results such as the “Agricultural Marketing Service/Fruit and Vegetable Program.”
Keywords or Solicitation Number
This will work like pretty much any other keyword match. On FedBizOpps you can search multiple terms at once. If you typed in “space AND flight” for example, it would read it as simply “space flight.” When multiple terms are put into the keywords search like this, it will turn up with results containing the terms within 20 words of each other.
If you put in “space NOT flight,” it will simply come up with results that have space but not flight in it.
The solicitation number is basically a unique identifier if you’re looking for a specific solicitation.
If you’re a novice or seasoned government contractor, this is one of the most useful search fields on FedBizOpps. NAICS stands for North American Industry Classification System. Every industry has their own NAICS code.
When opportunities are posted, they will have an associated NAICS code so that contractors in that industry can bid on them . Your business could have multiple NAICS codes, and you can even search by keywords in this field.
This section is pretty self-explanatory. You can search by the date ranges associated with the opportunity. By searching these ranges you can find opportunities that are still live and available.
Saving a Search / Creating a Search Agent
If you want to get the most out of FedBizOpps and your account, you’re going to need to be able to save your searches. On FBO, this is also known as “Creating a Search Agent.” When you have a search agent, you can easily repeat your most common searches.
To begin saving searches, you’re going to start at Opportunities again, but instead of Advanced Search, you will click on Search Agents. It will be on the first bar on your left. Then you will click on Search Agent.
Pretty much, all of the search criteria that we just went will be there. It’s 1 for 1 copy of the Advanced Search with the option of saving it as a Search Agent towards the end.
After that, you will reach a scheduling page. You can give your search a label to keep note of what you have been looking for and then you can schedule the search from a daily, weekly, to monthly basis.
Watching an opportunity helps you keep updated as the government process continues. As mentioned before, government contracts have a “lifecycle.” So if you find something in the Sources Sought phase that stuck out to you, you can watch it to see if it becomes a solicitation.
To do this, go into the opportunities list and carry out your search as usual. Then, when you find an opportunity or solicitation, under the notice details, but above the synopsis, there will be the option to watch the opportunity.
Simply click “Watch this Opportunity,” and it will appear in your “Watched” tab.
With both of these features, however, you need to realize that time is of the essence. Although FedBizOpps is the official government website for finding contracting opportunities, there are various tools developed by third parties.
Because if there’s one thing that’s obvious about FedBizzOpps, it’s this:
US Federal Contractor Registration’s Advanced Procurement Portal (APP) can basically do everything that FBO can, with plenty of added bonuses. You can:
- Get updates on opportunities as they happen…not once every 24 hours
- Track prime vendors and contracting officers…not just opportunities
- Keep track of your government network with a built-in CRM
- Conduct searches easily without needing an extensive guide (like this).
Finding a Solicitation, What’s Next?
So you’ve successfully navigated FedBizOpps and stumbled upon an opportunity that seems like a great fit. You’ve completed a pretty important part of the process, but then again, it’s only one part of it.
As mentioned before, the Synopsis/Solicitation phase means that the opportunity is up for grabs. However, before you even begin typing up your proposal, you need to know how to properly analyze one.
On the solicitation page on FedBizOpps, you will be able to find the Solicitation Number, Notice Type, and a brief synopsis which gives a brief description of the contract.
You will also be able to find the solicitation in a PDF format. Make note of the following information:
- Full Synopsis
- Solicitation Type (RFQ, RFP, IFB, etc.)
- Set-Aside & SBA size standard
- NAICS Code
- Relevant FAR Clauses and Provisions
- Point of Contact
If you are interested in the solicitation, then simply click on “Watch this Opportunity” to keep track of it on FedBizOpps.
Still, you’re going to have to write a pretty good proposal to get that contract. So why not get assistance with USFCR proposal writing services? We’ll also give you training for the bidding process, live chat seminars with contracting experts, and list of government contacts specifically catered to your business.
Also, be sure to download our proposal writing checklist.
Here are also some recent USFCR successes you can check out:
- Facility Compliance Services, LLC
- Butsky Cores, LLC
- Outdoor Systems Management, LLC
Drawbacks of FBO.gov
Just from the look of the site, you can tell that FedBizOpps, much like any other government website is dated. It’s been around since 2002 and not much has changed within the last decade. Besides that, you need to know the limits and what features are missing from the site.
Notifications Come Slower than 3rd Party Resources
As mentioned before, you could be using FBO to get information on opportunities, but your competition can be using speedier methods research…or better yet, YOU could be using speedier methods for research.
Limited Scope of Contracts
You can’t find state and local government contracting opportunities on FedBizOpps. You’re going to have to search on other sites for that. Plus, there are also plenty of opportunities on FedBid.com.
Wouldn’t it be easier if it were all in one place? We think so.
You Can’t Access Information on your Competition
How do you win a federal contract? You place better than your competition. How will you gather info on your competitors?
Well, you’re not going to call them…and you’re not going to find much on FedBizOpps.
Perhaps there is somewhere you could find government contracts as well as dig up information about other vendors, their past contracts or even prime contractors that you can work with.
No Tools for Strategy Development
Government contracting isn’t just about picking up one opportunity out of FedBizOpps. What’s the point of that? It’s about developing a system that will open up a path of revenue for your business. It’s about getting your foot in the door, creating success, and repeating that success.
FBO is just the “Help Wanted” board with a few neat features. That’s it. There’s not much there to help you.
That’s what US Federal Contractor Registration is for.
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