Introduction to Government Contracting

Date October 30, 2023
Categories
Article Authors
Elizabeth P. Becherer

Domestic manufacturers engaged in research and development activities may want to explore how their efforts can align with government needs. Contracting with the government can not only help fulfill these needs but can also provide manufacturers with a source of funding. This prospect is especially appealing to companies specializing in fields such as software, biotechnology, electronics, and various science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) disciplines, as these often align with government-funded opportunities.

APEX Accelerators, formerly known as Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, offer a valuable starting point for manufacturers looking to delve into government contracting, whether at the federal, state, or local level. These organizations, spread throughout the country, were established by Congress in 1985 to bolster private sector involvement in government contracts. Their programs facilitate the registration process for companies seeking to participate in the government marketplace, guiding them in identifying agencies and offices that may require their products and services. APEX Accelerators routinely receive notifications of contract opportunities, serving as a crucial link between companies and the government agencies they aim to serve. To locate your local APEX Accelerator, visit this link.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two primary programs to promote domestic participation in federal government research and development projects: the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs To explore government agencies with contract solicitations, visit www.sbir.gov.

Agencies providing contracting opportunities include the Department of Defense (including the Air Force, Army, NASA, Navy, Marines, and more), as well as the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, and Transportation, along with the Environmental Protection Agency.

If a manufacturer identifies a viable need for their product or service among the agency solicitations, they enter the first of three funding phases.

  • Phase I involves establishing the technical merit and potential of the proposed research and development efforts, as well as defining quality specifications before awarding funding. At this level, awards ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 are available for periods spanning six months to a year.
  • Phase II builds on the efforts and successful projects of Phase I, providing awards typically amounting to $750,000 for two years.
  • Phase III, where applicable, helps businesses pursue commercialization objectives.
  • Eligible small businesses participating in government contracting retain intellectual property rights to their contributions. It’s worth noting that SBA funds are not loans, and no equity is taken from the company by the SBA or any other agency.

    For more information on eligibility requirements and the necessary steps to consider, please visit www.sbir.gov. To discuss issues specific to your manufacturing company, contact a member of HBK Manufacturing Solutions at manufacturing@hbkcpa.com.

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