Every year, the federal government spends trillions of dollars on millions of contracts throughout the nation: more than 3 million contracts were awarded in 2015. Because the federal government is in charge of distributing a massive pool of funds, they tend to have more money to spend on projects when compared with state and local agencies. This is why federal contracts can often be more lucrative than others for vendors. Like other government agencies, federal agencies spend their funds on a wide variety of products and services; however certain industries tend to produce more contract opportunities than others. One of the most popular categories for federal contracting is the aircraft and aviation sector.
Types of Aircraft/Airframe Contracts and the Agencies That Need Them
Across the United States, hundreds of bids that relate to the aircraft industry are published every day. As you may have guessed, most of the solicitations are created by departments of the military, and the categories of bids range from structural components and aircraft accessories to launching, landing, and ground handling equipment. The majority of the available contracts are located in the Washington D.C. area, followed closely by Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina – no surprise since all of these states have a heavy military presence. It’s interesting to note that each state typically has more bids for one particular department of the federal government than others: in D.C. and Virginia, most contracts are for the Defense Logistics Agency; in Maryland, for the Navy; and in North Carolina for the Department of Homeland Security. There are more structural component contracts available in the D.C and Virginia area, while Pennsylvania generally sees more bid opportunities for aircraft accessories.
Defense Logistics Agency
If you search through the hundreds of federal bid opportunities in the aviation sector, you’ll notice that a majority of the bids are solicited by the Defense Logistics Agency. The DLA is an agency within the Department of Defense that was created in 1961 and was originally called the Defense Supply Agency. As the department grew and became more of an integral part of the U.S. military, it was renamed the Defense Logistics Agency in 1977. The agency’s main purpose is to acquire supplies for the military and was created in response to the military’s need for vast amounts of supplies and munitions during WWII; since the military required rapid procurement abilities it was decided to create one localized agency to procure crucial supplies and provide them to the military.
Finding Bids for the Federal Government
Finding federal bid opportunities tends to be more difficult than finding state and local contracts. This is because there are more state and local agencies and departments than federal agencies, and accordingly there are more sources for information about state and local bids for businesses who want to pursue contracts. This should not deter companies from bidding on federal contracts, however. One of the best sources for finding federal bids is sam.gov. Another great resource for businesses is the General Services Administration (GSA). Not only does the GSA provide the contract schedule for federal bids, but they also provide tools and resources to help businesses learn more about working with the government and successfully winning federal contracts.
Federal bids tend to be very specific to particular industry subsectors, but they also give vendors a chance to bid on multiple opportunities, as some companies provide more than one product for department. Providing products and services to the military also gives vendors the chance to win long term contracts (with terms of 5 or more years), whereas most state and local term contracts are a maximum of 5 years unless there is an option to renew.
If you’re unsure if you want to bid only on federal contracts, consider sticking to state and local contracts for now while ‘testing the waters’ of federal bidding by submitting proposals on one or two federal bids. This kind of experimentation will give you an idea of how the bidding process works for federal contracts and provide you with the knowledge and experience that will help you succeed in federal bidding in the future.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com