If you’re looking to get involved with federal contracting, one area where you may want to look for opportunities is with NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Not only does NASA post thousands of bid opportunities every year, they are also very involved in helping small businesses and MWBEs/VBEs pursue contracts with their organization.
Preparing Your Company to do Business with NASA
There are a few steps you must take first in order to bid on contracts posted by NASA:
- Register with SAM (System for Award Management)
- Obtain a DUNS number
- Register with NASA’s vendor database
- Familiarize yourself with the Federal Supply Class or Service codes (FSC/SVC) and NAICS (North American Identification Class System) codes for the products and services you sell
- Familiarize yourself with FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) and the NASA FAR supplement
You can also take these extra steps to help find and win federal contracts with NASA:
- Contact the General Service Administration (GSA) to learn how to obtain a federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contract.
- Identify target markets within NASA. There are 12 NASA centers, each of which posts closed and won bid opportunities. Search for what each center procures by using the top NAICS codes for NASA contracts. Also, take the time to read their acquisition forecasts.
- Look for subcontracting opportunities. Subcontracting can help you participate in federal contracts while allowing you to gain knowledge of and experience in doing business with NASA and the federal government in general.
- Present your business directly to the NASA center in your area and in other regions where you want to work. As with any agency, presenting your business and explaining what you sell will help them get to know you and your products, while helping you to build a relationship with the agency and laying a foundation for participation in future contracts.
- Check out fedbizopps.gov for all bid opportunities posted by NASA.
- Check out NASA’s unique small business programs, which include:
- The NASA Mentor Protégé Program
- The Small business Innovation Research Program
- The Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions Program
NAIS: The NASA Acquisition Internet Service
NAIS is an online portal that allows you to access procurement and acquisition information about NASA’s purchasing programs. It provides detailed reference information about regulations, clauses and provisions, and also offers handbooks and guidance books for vendors. The portal also provides a variety of procurement tools to help vendors during the bid process, explaining how to search through acquisition forecasts, access forms and benefit from the guidance available in the small business assistance section.
NASA’s Mentor Protégé Program
NASA’s Mentor Protégé program was established to encourage their prime vendors who have worked with NASA on multiple contracts to assist eligible businesses or protégés enhance their ability to perform contracts and subcontracts awarded by NASA. This program allows prime vendors and protégés to build lasting relationships both with each other and NASA. It also helps NASA by increasing the number of businesses that bid on and receive contracts.
In order to participate in the Mentor Protégé Program, protégés must meet at least one eligibility requirement and maintain that status for the duration of the agreement. The following entities are eligible for the mentor program:
- Small Disadvantaged Businesses
- Woman-Owned Small Businesses
- Veteran-Owned Small businesses
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business
- Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone)
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities
- Minority Servicing Institutions
- Small businesses with an active SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) or STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer Program) Phase II Contract
- Companies participating in the AbilityOne Program
Note that if a small business certifies itself as meeting the eligibility requirements for the program, it must also provide a separate written self-certification of its small business status with the Mentor-Protégé Agreement (MPA). Business protégés are not allowed to participate more than twice in the program and they are only allowed one mentor at a time.
For prime vendors that would like to become mentors, they must demonstrate that they are a large prime vendor that is performing under a NASA contract and has at least one approved Federal Subcontracting plan; they must also be eligible to receive government contracts. Prime vendors can submit an application to become a mentor at any time and must resubmit a renewal application every six years to continue being part of the program.
(*Source for NASA’s Mentor Protégé Program: n.p. Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Small Business Program Guide. Nasa.gov. n.d. web. 06 Jul 2016)
If you haven’t already done so, make sure that your company is certified as a small business, MWBE, or other appropriate designation before you start bidding on opportunities. As a certified business, the scales will tilt in your favor when it comes to winning contracts, and by registering your business you’ll be able to take advantage of aforementioned programs like the Mentor Protégé Program, which can be very helpful for small businesses when looking for contracts with NASA.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com