With a population of over 600,000, Washington D.C. is the twenty-second largest city in the United States. Every week, hundreds of thousands of people commute from Maryland and Virginia to the city for work, swelling Washington D.C.’s population from Monday to Friday.
As both the nation’s capital and a hub of federal government operations, Washington D.C. generates a lot of opportunities for vendors who want to provide products and services to the public sector, especially at the federal level. In this article we’ll review how vendors can pursue contract opportunities with the city.
The Office of Contracting and Procurement
Washington D.C.’s Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) is responsible for managing vendor contracts with the city. Each year, OCP buys $1 billion worth of goods and services for more than sixty agencies. Vendors who want to do business with the city must first provide the OCP with their federal ID number and their DUNS number. OCP may also require vendors to provide a Dun & Bradstreet report, as well as proof of current taxes, for contracts worth more than $100,000.
First Source Agreement
For any contracts worth more than $300,000, vendors must enter into a First Source Agreement with the city. Under the agreement, vendors must use the Department of Employment Services as a first source for recruitment, referral and placement of new hires.
Affirmative Action Plan
For contracts worth more than $25,000, the city requires vendors to submit an affirmative action plan.
(Source: Office of Contracting and Procurement. Requirements for Doing Business with the District. n.d. web. 4 Nov. 2016)
Doing Business with the City
As part of their mandate, the Office of Contracting and Procurement offers workshops and training classes for vendors interested in doing business with the city.
Vendors should also register with the city’s eSourcing portal in order to receive electronic versions of solicitations. All Washington D.C. contract opportunities are posted on the city’s website and , vendors can find contracts worth more than $250,000 advertised in a local newspaper (currently, the Washington Examiner). Vendors should keep in mind that registration for eSourcing must be done within 24 to48 hours before the bid closing date. It is also a good idea for vendors to arrange to have their company listed on the city’s official supply schedule.
(Source: Office of Contracting and Procurement. Vendor Registration Process. n.d. web. 4 Nov. 2016)
Some of Washington, D.C.’s city agencies have their own purchasing departments that handle procuring goods and services. Vendors who are interested in working with these particular agencies will need to contact them directly about contract opportunities. These agencies include:
- The Office of the Chief Financial Officer
- District of Columbia Public Schools
- District of Columbia General Services
- Department of Parks and Recreation
- Information Technology Staff Augmentation
- National Association of State Procurement Officials
- Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
- Washington Airport Authority
(Source: Office of Contracting and Procurement. Independent Agencies. n.d. web. 4 Nov. 2016)
Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) Program
Vendors who would like to become a certified business enterprise for the city must first successfully complete a CBE test via webinar. The webinar must be completed within 24 hours of beginning it and the vendor must receive a score of eighty percent in order to receive a passing grade.
The CBE program provides preference to district-based firms who are interested in contract opportunities with Washington D.C. In order to be eligible as a CBE, vendors must meet a local standard to guarantee that they are in fact based in the District of Columbia. These standards are:
- The principal business office must be located in the district;
- The CEO and highest level managerial employees of the business must maintain their offices and perform managerial functions within the district.
- A business must also meet one of the four following standards:
- 50% of the business assets are located in D.C.;
- More than 50% of the total sales or other revenues originate in the district;
- More than 50% of the employees must be residents of D.C.;
- More than 50% of the owners must be residents of D.C.
(Source: Office of Contracting and Procurement. Department of Small and Local Business Development. CBE Program History. n.d. web. 4 Nov. 2016)
Participating in a preference program is certainly advantageous for businesses in the area, especially for small businesses who are trying to get their business off the ground. Local agencies are dedicated to helping local businesses grow, because their success contributes to the local economy and promotes the city as a commercial destination. If you’re a vendor who is new to public sector contracting, starting off small by bidding on city contracts is a good way to get started, and getting involved with the preference program can help you win a contract!
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com