The U.S. government is technically the world’s largest company with some 1 million contracts being signed every single year. Of all these federal government contracts, around 95 percent is captured by small- and medium-scale businesses offering janitorial, cybersecurity, and food services, to name a few.
While these figures may portray doing business with the federal government as something pretty easy with all the possible contracts, it does pose some unique challenges.
Aside from knowing certain tricks on how to win government contracts, a prospective government contractor has to always be mindful of some essential rules for them to avoid potential legal problems and stressful contract fulfillment. With plenty of hard work and strict adherence to such rules, there can be a lot of great projects that one can have with the federal government.
Now, here are six essential things that US government contractors like you should always remember:
You must be cybersecurity-compliant
The federal government has strict cybersecurity compliance requirements for all government contractors including the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification by the Department of Defense (or the CMMC DoD compliance) and the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) 800-171.
While the latter involves a contractor’s self-assessment of its cybersecurity measures, the former compliance standard requires contractors to undergo an audit and get certifications. These certifications range from Basic Cyber hygiene (Level 1) to Advanced/Progressive (Level 5).
If a government contractor handles data that are under Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), it is required to have a Level 3 certification. The contractor must satisfy 110 controls and practices specified under the NIST 800-171 standard plus 20 other practices.
You would conduct business with contracting officers
Federal government agencies deal with contractors through contracting officers, which can be classified as a Procurement Contracting Officer, a Termination Contracting Officer, or an Administrative Contracting Officer. These contracting officers act as authorized agents for the federal government and are the ones who handle the majority of a government project’s contract-related matters.
As such, be sure to know who the specific contracting officers assigned to your project are since you will be working closely with them throughout your contract. By ensuring a smooth working relationship with contracting officers, you can expect your project to run as smooth as butter and allow you to build up your reputation as a great government contractor.
Never use contractor funds as contributions to political candidates
If you will ever find yourself dealing with government contracts during an election year, you have to be careful how you participate in election-related activities. Case in point: giving contributions to political candidates whom you support.
As an individual government contractor, you are barred by the law to use your contractor funds to support the political bid of anyone who is running for public office. Keep in mind that there has been a legal precedent of government contractors challenging the constitutionality of such prohibition and losing such a bid. So, spare yourself the potential legal trouble and refrain from using your contractor funds to chip in for a candidate’s campaign coffers.
Do not violate Gift and Gratuity Restrictions
Another matter that you must avoid as a government contractor is violating Gift and Gratuity Restrictions. These restrictions simply point to the illegal nature of giving anything that has value to any government official as a way of influencing that official’s act or as a means of showing gratuity for that official’s act that benefited the giver.
You and all of your employees must know about these restrictions and the need to ensure that no one will do anything that would be in clear violation of those restrictions. This is to prevent any legal repercussions that could lead you or your employees to face government sanctions or lawsuits.
You should have dedicated teams to handle different areas of government contracts
If you want your business to be successful in all its government contracts, you must have different teams handling specific areas such as making pitches, satisfying contract obligations/deliverables, and documenting work progress from beginning to completion.
With dedicated teams overseeing the various facets of the contract, work will surely proceed smoothly and following the stipulations of the contracts.
Be mindful of all applicable labor and employment obligations
All government contractors need to provide their workers with appropriate wages and benefits due them. These are non-negotiable items that these contractors must satisfy for them to continue working on government projects and to avoid violating all other applicable labor laws. As such, you must be fully aware of these employment and labor obligations and ensure 100 percent compliance for you to succeed in your government contracting venture.
With these six things as your guide, etching a long and fruitful career as a federal government contractor should be a distinct possibility.