Entry Points into Doing Business with the DoD
There are multiple ways to find opportunities and get on contract with the DoD! This page simplifies the myriad options to help you quickly understand where to find the right entry point for starting business with the DoD.
How can I get on contract with the DoD?
In order to do business with the DoD (e.g., get on contract with them), start by answering two key questions:
Which DoD organization is my ideal customer?
There is a wide array of potential DoD customers, as well as a rich network of non-government organizations that can help connect you to the right DoD customer.
What’s important here is figuring out HOW to make connections to those organizations.
What contract vehicles will DoD organizations use?
Contract vehicles are the tactical method that DoD organizations will use to do business with you. DoD organizations use a variety of contract strategies and contract vehicles, and there is no one standard approach.
What’s important here is finding WHERE the current and upcoming opportunities are posted to submit your proposals.
Which DoD organization is my ideal customer?
It’s important to find out who to get connected to because ultimately, only DoD Contracting Officers can offer you a contract award. This does not mean that you need to know the specific DoD Contracting Officer. Rather, you should seek to understand organization and program goals and objectives to find a fit for your solution, or pursue an innovative organization that can help you advance your solution (if needed) and make connections to DoD programs with contract award opportunities.
Examples of DoD organizations that could connect you to your ideal customer:
Innovation Ecosystem Organizations.
The DoD Innovation Ecosystem is heavily geared toward small and startup businesses who may not yet realize where or how they might fit into the DoD acquisition landscape. Visit the Innovation Ecosystem page for a list of organizations and their specific capabilities and focus areas.
Program Executive Offices (PEOs) are DoD organizations responsible for prototyping, procurement, and fielding of equipment, systems, and technologies as well as their lifecycle management. Each DoD Service has their own set of PEOs, and each PEO has a unique set of focus areas.
There are also many non-government organizations that may have DoD connections that would be interested in your solution. These include professional organizations, industry events, and internet forums.
Now let’s consider three scenarios of how you might find your ideal DoD Customer.
1) I already know the ideal DOD customer
You may have already identified a specific DoD organization for your services or solution. You may already have a point of contact, whether it’s a specific individual or the organization.
Recommended Entry Point: Follow organizations on social media, attend industry days (in-person and virtual), and create a user account to set up and save searches and follow opportunities on SAM.gov.
2) My service/solution may appeal broadly to many DoD customers
You may have multiple ideal DoD customers due to the nature of your services or solutions.
Recommended Entry Points:
General Services Administration (GSA) schedule contracts reach DoD (and other federal government) customers. See GSA Prospective Schedule Contractors page.
Other Transaction Consortia are organized around specific technology areas and are connected to a government sponsor. (Note: there are membership fees associated with these entities).
For start-ups and small businesses with less mature solutions, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs may present an opportunity to get engaged with one or more DoD customers while pursuing technological advancement and commercialization.
3) I am seeking an industry partner
There are also many other avenues for finding out about DoD opportunities, which includes finding potential Industry Partners. In this case, networking based on common interests is a great starting point. Here are some ideas for types or organizations and events where you may be able to find out more.
As networkers, professional associations may advertise DoD opportunities of interest to their communities via mailing lists and word of mouth.
Conferences, forums, and meetings may also advertise DoD opportunities.
Community members may also share DoD opportunities.
What contract vehicle will this DoD organization use?
Each DoD organization will use a variety of contracting strategies. To award contracts, they will choose the one/s that are best suited to execute their acquisition strategy (check out our Understanding DoD Contracting section for a more detailed discussion of contracting strategies). Contracting opportunities are available through contracting “portals”. These portals are used by the entire Federal Government. As a subset of the Federal Government, the DoD may have dedicated areas in some portals and not in others.
Common Contracting Portals
The System for Award Management (SAM) is where the DoD posts the majority of procurement opportunities.
General Services Administration (GSA) hosts procurement opportunities that meet the requirements at FAR 8.4, Federal Supply Schedules.
DoD grant and agreement opportunities are posted to the grants.gov site.
SBIR and STTR
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program directly posts opportunity announcements across the federal government. Service-specific SBIR/STTR program pages also highlight specific opportunities.
The Defense SBIR/STTR Innovation Portal (DSIP) aggregates all DoD SBIR/STTR opportunities.
Other Transaction Consortia compete and award Other Transaction agreements via internal website or portal (some announcements may be public, but the details are usually available only to consortium members).