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FAQs on Government Contract Awards – Everything You Wanted to Know About Landing Military Contracts but Were Afraid to Ask


Collectively, our Govgistics team has decades of experience helping clients win military contracts, NASA contracts, DOT contracts, HUD contracts, DOE contracts and other government contracts. During that time, we have answered a lot of questions. Here are some of the most common, from the basic requirements to win government contract awards to CAGE code lookups, from finding the drawings you need to "set asides."
Figure 1 FAQs about Military Contracts

The Questions We Get Every Month About Military Contracts


I can’t find the drawing I am looking for. How can I find it

First of all, we occasionally have clients who are looking for drawings that aren’t yet published. The norm is for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to maintain exclusive rights to drawings for 10 years, though there are exceptions to that rule. Once these exclusive rights are terminated, ownership transfers to the government.

Government agencies then publish these drawings in c-folders (collaboration folders). In order to access the right drawings, you must have the drawing number. This is where most clients struggle, because they do not have the drawing number they need. Using the Govgistics database, you can look up the much more easily accessible national stock number. Our system will then take you to the drawings you need. Many clients note that this can save anywhere from 20-90% of the time they would otherwise spend looking up drawing numbers.

I have heard government contractors have to wait forever to get paid for military contracts. How can I speed that up?

That information is outdated. Legislation passed in the last few years requires all military contracts to be paid net 30 and small business government contracts to be paid net 15. That means all businesses must be paid within 30 days (and small businesses within 15 days) of delivering the agreed upon goods and services, AND properly billing the agency of record.

How do I properly bill the government for completed military contracts?

All Department of Defense bills need to be submitted through WAWF (the Wide Area Workflow system). WAWF is designed to streamline communication (including reports and invoices) between your company and government agencies. You must register in WAWF. With WAWF, your business can correct and/or resubmit rejected documents, receive e-mail notifications of awaiting actions, bill the government, and view your status history with each federal agency with which you have conducted business. Perhaps the most common reason for delayed payment is an incomplete WAWF submission. Make sure all of the required information is complete. If you are having other issues with WAWF, please contact your Govgistics rep today.

How can my company become a "set aside" company?

You can’t. That actually works to your benefit. There is a little confusion around "set asides" that stem from a misunderstanding of the jargon. Companies cannot achieve "set aside" status. Only categories of companies can receive designation as "set asides." Companies can be certified to fit within these categories by the Small Business Administration (SBA). There are a number of these special designations, including:

  • HUB-Zone Status
  • Small Business Status
  • Service Disabled Veteran Owned Status
  • Veteran Owned Status
  • Woman Owned Status
  • Small Business with 8(a) Certified Small Disadvantaged Business Status

Small disadvantaged business status is certified by the SBA to make them eligible for special bidding benefits. For purposes of the 8(a) Business Development program, the following groups are presumed socially disadvantaged:

  • Black Americans
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Asian Pacific Americans
  • Subcontinent Asian Americans

To be certified an 8(a) Certified Small Disadvantaged Business your firm must be unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and citizens of the United States, and must demonstrate potential for success.

Why are these broader categories advantageous to your firm. You can actually become certified by the SBA for multiple special status categories, and the government can set multiple categories to compete for "set aside" government contract awards. This means by seizing on every possible certification for which your firm is eligible, you increase the number of military contracts for which you can compete. These certifications through the SBA are sometimes the most challenging step for our clients. If you have any difficulty achieving the specially designated status with the SBA, please contact your Govgistics rep. We have helped others through this before, and would be happy to assist.

How Can My Company Be Certified for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Status?

Your business may be considered for service disabled veteran owned status for military contracts if it meets the following criteria:

  • Meets the criteria for a small business
  • Is 51% unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more person(s) who served in the active Military, Naval, or Air Service,
  • The owner(s) were discharged or released (under conditions other than dishonorable) and whose disability was incurred or aggravated in line of duty in the active Military, Naval, or Air Service.
  • In the case of permanent or severe disability, the spouse or permanent care-giver of a veteran who meets these criteria may be eligible for service disabled veteran owned status

How Can My Company Be Certified as a HUB-Zone Business?

Your business may be considered for HUB-Zone certification for government contract awards if it meets the following criteria:

  • Your company meets the criteria for a small business
  • Your small business and must be located in a "historically underutilized business zone" or HUBZone.
  • Your firm must be owned and controlled by one or more US Citizens,
  • At least 35% of your employees must reside in a HUBZone.

The Basics of Winning Government Contract Awards

What do we need to do to become a registered vendor to win government contract awards?

With a few exceptions, a firm that wants to compete for federal government contracts must meet these 5 requirements:

  1. Obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. A DUNS number is a unique nine-digit number assigned by Dun and Bradstreet to identify unique business establishments. In other words, any branch or facility involved in the fulfillment of your government contract award should have its own unique DUNS number.
  2. Register on the government’s Central Contractor Registry (CCR) database. The CCR registers organizations who want to win government contract awards through NASA or military contract awards through the DOD. Your firm must have a DUNS number to register with the CCR.
  3. Complete an Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA). ORCA replaces most of the paper based Representations and Certifications (Reps and Certs) in Section K of government contract bidding.
  4. Know your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. NAICS classifies business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. economy. NAICS codes are also used for administrative, contracting, and tax purposes. In addition, the SBA uses NAICS codes as a basis for its size standards, so NAICS codes are vital when applying for a specially designated status.
  5. Your Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN or EIN)
  6. You must register in SAM

What is SAM?

SAM is the System for Awards Management. This system was designed to incorporate the CCR, ORCA, and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) into a single consolidated contractor database. Those firms wishing to win government contract awards must renew their SAM registration annually. We recommend that you renew your SAM registration two months in advance of its expiration date, as even the threat of an interruption can both interfere with winning contracts and delay prompt payment.

What is a PSC?

A Product Service Code (PSC) is a categorization of what the U.S. Government buys. The PSC consist of two separate elements, one for commodities and one for research, development, and evaluation services. Federal Supply Classification Codes (FSC) covers commodities, which are numbered 10-99. All aspects of research, development, and evaluation including management and support, which are lettered A-Z. You can find relevant PSC codes here:

How can I find military contracts to bid on?

Any time military contracts, NASA contracts, or HUD contracts are expected to exceed $25,000, the government is legally bound to publish the contract on http://www.fedbizopps.gov. However, those looking to provide specific goods to services often find the website to be very difficult to manage and sort. Govgistics.com provides a much faster, more streamlined way to find appropriate space and military contacts. If you would like to know a few tricks of the trade to speed your searches, please don’t hesitate to contact your Govgistics rep.

What is the GSA?

The General Services Administration (GSA) is the agency through which the most government-wide contracts are procured.

What is a GSA schedule?

A GSA schedule is a way for government procurement officers to purchase commonly used goods and services without issuing an RFQ or RFP. Your business can list goods and services available for sale on these schedules. Procurement agents can then make purchases directly from your company without the usual bidding process. It might be helpful to think of the GSA Schedule as "Amazon shopping" for procurement officers, who can order for goods and services up to a certain value based on the lowest price they find online.

Should my company participate in the GSA schedule?

Probably. GSA schedules are a great way for businesses to get their foot in the door and to establish long-term connections with procurement agents. It is not ideal for every type of good or service, but GSA schedules certainly have their place. GSA schedules make it easy to network with federal procurement agents, reduce lead time between projects, and increase your bottom line.

CAGE Code and CAGE Code Lookup

What is a CAGE code?

The Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code is a five digit alpha-numeric ID number used extensively within the Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA for government procurement processes?

What is the difference between a CAGE code and an NCAGE code?

A CAGE code is for any companies located in the US and its territories wishing to win government contract awards. An NCAGE code is for any companies located outside of the US and its territories wishing to win government contract awards.

Why would I need to do a CAGE code lookup?

Often your firm will have a list of CAGE codes and need to discover which companies those CAGE codes correspond to. Alternately, you may have a list of companies involved (or potentially involved) in a project and may need to look up their CAGE codes in order to submit proper paperwork.

How do I do a CAGE code lookup?

Our tool allows you free CAGE code lookup As always, if you are having issues with CAGE code look up, or trouble finding any other information you need, contact your Govgistics rep today.

Federal Regulations Concerning Government and Military Contracts

What is FAR?

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is the primary source of federal procurement regulations. The FAR, is issued, and maintained under the joint auspices of the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of General Services Administration, and the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The regulations can be found here.

What are military standards?

Because of the extraordinary demands placed on military equipment, military contracts often reference specific military standards (MIL-STD), colloquially known as "mil-specs." There are over 50,000 military standards used for space and military contracts that relate to everything from the packaging and labeling used for certain components, to the requirements for nuclear reactors. It is vital to be able to understand and fulfill all military specifications for any NASA or military contracts.

Military Contract Negotiations

What is an IFB, RFP or RFQ and what is the difference?

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is the primary source of federal procurement regulations. The FAR, is issued, and maintained under the joint auspices of the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of General Services Administration, and the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The regulations can be found here.

What are military standards?

Because of the extraordinary demands placed on military equipment, military contracts often reference specific military standards (MIL-STD), colloquially known as "mil-specs." There are over 50,000 military standards used for space and military contracts that relate to everything from the packaging and labeling used for certain components, to the requirements for nuclear reactors. It is vital to be able to understand and fulfill all military specifications for any NASA or military contracts.

Military Contract Negotiations

What is an IFB, RFP or RFQ and what is the difference?

Although all of these terms are still commonly used almost interchangeable, officially, the definition of them has evolved to indicate important differences. An Invitation for Bid (IFB) now refers to sealed bidding. A Request for Proposal (RFP) now refers to negotiated procurement. A Request for Quote (RFQ) still refers to requesting unsealed oral or written prices on small purchases. These distinctions are important when trying to win government contract awards.

What is a negotiated procurement?

Negotiated procurement is contracting through the use of either competitive, or other-than-competitive proposals, and discussions. Specifically, it is advantageous when there are important factors in play besides cost alone. For instance new technologies, new approaches to problems, components where durability is a primary concern because parts wear out so quickly, the precision or accuracy of a smachine, etc. may all lead to RFPs and negotiated procurement. As a rule of thumb, any contract awarded without using sealed bidding procedures is a negotiated contract, and any contract where cost is not the prime focus could well be a negotiated contract.

What is a best and final offer?

A best and final offer is a contractor's final bid following all negotiations that stem from their RFP.

What is a prime contract?

A contract awarded directly by the government to a contractors, who becomes the prime contractors.

What is a subcontract?

A contract between a prime contractor and a subcontractor to supply goods or services for the fulfillment of a prime contract.

What is a contractor team arrangement?

An arrangement in which (a) a prime potential contractor agrees with one or more companies to have them serve as a subcontractor to fulfill military contracts; or (b) two or more companies form a partnership or joint venture to act as a single potential prime contractor

What is past performance?

Your company’s past performance includes information about recently completed or ongoing contracts. NASA, DOE, HUD, and military contracts will typically require past performance information to be included with your bid.

Perhaps the most common question of all – How do I navigate a specific government website, such as FBO, GSA, NASA SEWP, etc.?

These are great questions, with intricate, detailed answers. Each of these websites will be discussed in future emails. For now, if you have specific questions about specific sites or government/military contracts, please contact your Govgisitics rep. We will work hard to help your firm win all the government contract awards possible to grow your business.