Selling to the Government FAQ
- What does the government buy?
The Federal Government buys pretty much everything imaginable. They can be very demanding about specifications, place of manufacture, packaging, labeling etc.
- Does the government really buy from small companies?
Yes – a lot, and rapidly growing. In FY 2011, $91.5 billion was spent with small businesses – about 22% of all Federal Government contract spending. $91.5 billion is too big a number for most of us to grasp – think of it as $366,000,000 every business day!
- Will it take forever to get paid?
No — not if you do what you promised in your contract, follow the procedures, and do the online "paperwork" correctly. Expect a learning curve, and don't expect them to adapt to you. Note: You will receive payment by electronic funds transfer, not paper checks.
- All they care about is price!
Not so, most of the time (there are exceptions). In general, value is more important than price. Confidence –their belief that they will get what they need from you, when and where they need it – is also usually more important than price. But remember, competition for their business is fierce, and that affects price.
- I can't deal with all the red tape! Why are they so hard to do business with?
Are you a taxpayer? Then it's your fault! Unlike private companies, governments aren't just accountable to their owners or shareholders – they're accountable to everybody. And the voters want:
- Transparency and Accountability - so that they can see that their $$ are being spent wisely.
- Fairness – so that nobody gets an unfair chance at public $$.
- Social Goals – so that, in the process of spending public $$ to get what it needs, other goals (supporting small businesses, for example) also get advanced.
- Can you help me with State and local government sales? How is that different?
Yes, we can help with sales to any government agency in the US. The smaller governmental units differ from Uncle Sam in 3 significant ways;
- Less emphasis on the transparency, fairness and social goals, although this varies a lot, and is still a factor.
- Different, and usually less "red tape."
- More focus on price and less on long-term value.
- Not required to buy from small businesses.
- I'm not ready to deal directly with government. Can I still get involved?
We often help companies prepare for government contracting by assisting them to become a subcontractor or supplier on government contracts. This can be an excellent way to get started, and is the best long-term role for many.
- How do I qualify for help from NH-PTAP?
You must have a business with a physical location in New Hampshire. A home office would qualify. We will work with any NH company, but we will tell you candidly if we believe that you are not ready for government contracting.
- How many companies have you helped?
We have worked with over 2200 companies since we began operation about 20 years ago. We are currently working actively with over 900 businesses.
- That's nice, but how many of them succeed in getting contracts?
Our clients reported winning over $810M in contracts in 2011. Of this total, 123 clients received 633 contracts valued at $161M. These clients specifically link some part of their success with winning these contracts to NH-PTAP assistance.
- What kinds of companies work with you?
All kinds – very large, global leaders; very small, even home-based companies. High-tech, low-tech, no-tech. Manufacturers, distributors, service providers, professionals, consultants, construction – you name it.
- I'm really busy, and can't afford to go running off to Concord. So that leaves me out in the cold, right?
No!. It's efficient if you can come to our Concord office to meet with us—we have ready access to a mountain of information there. But we routinely visit clients at their places of business, statewide. We also do a great deal of work via phone and over the internet. We'll make it work.
- What do you charge for helping companies like mine?
Our services are free to New Hampshire businesses. We will never charge you for anything, or try to sell you anything. We may from time to time suggest that you attend a workshop or matchmaker event sponsored by others that involves a charge, but we receive no funds from these events.
- If I don't have to pay you, who does?
Good question. We are funded as a cooperative program of the Defense Logistics Agency (US Dept. of Defense) and the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development.
- How do I get started?
Give us a call at 603-271-7581 or email us at
NH-PTAP, which serves as a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), is funded in part through a cooperative agreement from the Department of Defense (DOD) through a program that is administered by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The content of any written materials or verbal communications of the PTAC does not necessarily reflect the official views of or imply endorsement by DOD or DLA. NH-PTAP is also funded by the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), and operates as a program of the Business Resource Center within the Division of Economic Development (DED).