You’re a solopreneur or perhaps a microbusiness with just a couple of employees. You have an interest in pursuing government contracts as a growth strategy, but you realize you don’t have the capacity to compete for these large, lucrative contracts. Teaming or partnering with complementary or even, yes, a competitive company might be your way to success.
WHAT EXACTLY IS TEAMING
The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) defines teaming as: FAR Subpart 9.6- Contractor Team
(1) Two or more companies form a partnership or joint venture to act as a potential prime contractor; or
(2) A potential prime contractor agrees with one or more other companies to have them act as its subcontractors under a specified Government contract or acquisition program.
Although polices vary from state to state, governmental entities at all levels and many corporations encourage teaming to increase the utilization of small, minority, female and economically disadvantaged businesses.
WHEN TEAMING HAPPENS
Teaming generally occurs prior to submitting a response to a bid or RFP. However, it is not uncommon for a Prime contractor to augment their team as a result of contract negotiation requirements resulting from a contract award. Under some circumstances it may be possible to join a team after a project is underway. For example, the prime contractor may have a need to replace a subcontractor due to inability to perform or have a need to expand the team due to a contract modification.
LEGAL ASPECTS OF TEAMING
The most common form of a teaming arrangement is a prime contractor/ subcontractor (sub) relationship. In most cases, the prime contractor has government contracting experience and acts as the project lead. There is a legal and binding contract between the prime and the sub detailing roles, responsibilities, tasks and compensation.
As mentioned previously, subs can be very useful in helping governments meet small business utilization goals and the sub should consider this when negotiating with a potential prime. If you decide to take on a subcontractor role you’ll want to acquire good legal counsel and give specific attention to the compensation model (for example, some primes will only pay their subs if they, the prime, is paid as well as what percentage of the contract you will be paid); ask if the prime expects exclusivity or if you will be free to act as a sub for additional primes bidding for the same work; be sure to define performance expectations and contract termination. Look out for contracts that only pay you only “if the task is required.” This means you are not guaranteed work or compensations! Also remember to protect your intellectual property.
An additional legal teaming arrangement is a joint venture. Joint ventures can be highly complex legal structures and expensive to implement. Therefore JVs are used less often than prime/sub arrangements.
HOW TO FIND A TEAMING OPPORTUNITY
Building relationships with prime contractors who work on the types of projects that interest you is key. To find out who they are, you’ll have to do a bit of legwork. Contact the agency’s buyer or contract administrators. You can also obtain legislative records for contracts. These public records will provide you will the details of public contracts including the prime contractor and often times the names of the companies they are subcontracting with on a particular project. Contact the prime early and often!
Find out what types of certifications and compliance documents you should obtain as a small, women-owned or minority business. When introducing your services to the prime, you’ll want to leverage your status as value-added.
Your Local Equal Business Opportunity offices
National Conference of State Legislatures : List of State Minority Business Offices
•Small Business Administration Sub-Net (Subcontracting Opportunity Postings) http://web.sba.gov/subnet/ •FedBizOpps Awards
•FedBiz Now Awards
•GovExec Magazine Top Federal Contractors (Top 200 and by industry and agency)
US Dept. of Transportation Subcontracting Directory
The GSA Subcontracting Directory.
•Department of the Treasury, Small Business Subcontracting Opportunities (Prime Contractor Directory with contact information)
•Small Business Administration, Subcontracting Opportunities Directory (Prime Contractor Directory with contact information)
Copyright 2012 The Catalyst Marketing Group