The ins and outs of U.S. DoD procurement
To win contracts in the massive U.S. defence market, Canadian firms need to understand where to find opportunities and how to navigate the sometimes-complex mechanisms and processes involved in becoming a ready bidder.
Get to know about the buying commands that matter to you
U.S. defence procurement is managed by the country’s Department of Defense. Each of the five-armed services —Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, Coast Guard — and other organizations also each have their own procurement, such as:
- The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (includes the U.S. Marine Corps)
- The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology
- The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force
- United States Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate
- Space Systems Command
Other important offices to know are the:
- Defense Logistics Agency, which manages procurement for supplies such as food, fuel and pharmaceuticals;
- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which handles research and development for the U.S. DoD;
- National Security Agency (NSA), which works with intelligence, cryptology and information security.
Getting ready to sell to U.S. DoD
There are several steps to go through to get your company ready to bid on a U.S. DoD opportunity. Here are the highlights and make sure to download our step-by-step Guide to U.S. Market Entry (link to grow your defence business landing page):
2. Get your NATO Contractor and Government Entity (NCAGE) code – This is required for foreign vendors accessing U.S. DoD procurement. Access it here. The code must be validated, which can take up to 10 business days.
3. Get a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and register in the System for Award Management (SAM) – This is required to do business with the U.S. Federal Government. You can get your DUNS number here and register for SAM here. It should take one to two business days to receive your DUNS number.
4. Find opportunities – Check with the various procurement offices and keep an eye on the SAM website. You can also visit FedMall and the Global Bid Opportunity Finder to look for new contract tenders.
5. Build awareness – Click here to find the calendar of National Defense Industrial Association events where you can showcase your product, and contact the Trade Commissioner Service nearest to your target market.
Get your outreach game going with U.S. DoD
Download Guide to Marketing to DoD from U.S. DoD Office of Small Business Programs.
DoD employs more than 30,000 acquisition staff. You need to know how to find the right buyers for your product or service amongst them. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Follow the money – Find out who has spent on your category in the past.
2. Target your market – Understand your prospective customer’s mission, environment, challenges and hot buttons.
3. Tailor your presentation – Don’t provide a standard, canned presentation to potential customers. Research their requirements and understand their challenges.
4. Highlight benefits – Explain how your service or product has a positive impact on a project’s cost, schedule and performance.
5. Identify your differentiators – What separates you from other great performers?
6. Draw connections to past projects – Translate the relevancy of your past performance; don’t expect a prospective customer to do it for you.
7. Create a Capabilities Statement – Provide a one-pager that summarizes your experience. Your capabilities statement should not include any typos and should include your CAGE code. When you meet with Program Managers and Contracting Officers, be prepared to discuss a real requirement, not your generic capabilities.
Download our guide to learn what opportunities are available to Canadian businesses, where to find these opportunities and how to get started selling to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Be armed with facts for your outreach to prospective U.S. DoD buyers
Your prospective U.S. DoD buyer might say “We can’t meet one-on-one with a potential offeror (supplier).”
Government officials can generally meet one-on-one with potential offerors (suppliers) as long as no vendor receives preferential treatment.
Prior to issuance of the solicitation, government officials – including the program manager, users, or contracting officer – may meet with potential offerors to exchange general information and conduct market research related to an acquisition. In fact, the FAR, in Part 15, encourages exchanges of information with interested parties during the solicitation process, ending with the receipt of proposals. There is no requirement that the meetings include all possible offerors, nor is there a prohibition on one-on-one meetings.
Your prospective U.S. DoD buyer might feel that “If the government meets with vendors, that may cause them to submit an unsolicited proposal and that will delay the procurement process.”
Submission of an unsolicited proposal should not affect the schedule. Generally, the unsolicited proposal process is separate from the process for a known agency requirement that can be acquired using competitive methods.
All acquisition officials should be familiar with FAR Subpart 15.6 and their agency’s procedures for receiving and evaluating an unsolicited proposal. Receipt of unsolicited proposals should not cause delay in an acquisition.
The best way to present my company’s capabilities is by marketing directly to Contracting Officers or signing them up to my mailing list.
Contracting Officers and program managers are often inundated with marketing material that doesn’t reach the right people at the right time. As an alternative, vendors can take advantage of the various outreach sessions that agencies hold for the purpose of connecting contracting officers and program managers with companies whose skills are needed.
Contracting and program offices are often inundated with marketing material. A more effective approach is to make your capabilities known through outreach sessions that agencies hold to provide information on how best to do business with the agency, and to provide information on future requirements. Many times, these outreach sessions will provide an opportunity for vendors to meet with program managers and contracting officials to generally discuss items on annual procurement plans.
It is a good idea to bring only to business development and marketing people to meetings with the agency’s technical staff.
In meetings with government technical personnel, it is far more valuable for you to bring subject matter experts to the meeting rather than focusing on the sales pitch.
Agency personnel are interested in better understanding the marketplace, advances in technology, and your firm’s capabilities. In order to gain this understanding, it is usually more helpful for them to discuss technical issues than business development issues. Industry professionals can benefit by conducting research about the agency in advance of scheduled meetings with agency professionals. Valuable time during one-on-one meetings is often spent sharing commonly available information, which is not helpful to either party. Before meeting with agency personnel, review information, such as the mission, structure, and organization; its advanced acquisition plans; and its budget.
In addition, information on existing contracts in your areas of interest is available at www.usaspending.gov, and information on the specific program of interest is at http://business.usa.gov/find-resources. This information will enable you to tailor your presentation to agency officials. Your technical team may be in the best position to provide the information that the agency needs, and therefore they should be included in these meetings.
“If I meet one-on-one with agency personnel, they may share my proprietary data with my competition.”
Agency personnel have a responsibility to protect proprietary information from disclosure outside the Government and will not share it with other companies.
Agency personnel have a responsibility to protect any information that was received in confidence from an offeror. The Procurement Integrity Act and its implementing provisions in the FAR 7 prohibit Federal procurement officials from disclosing contractor bid, proposal information or source selection information to any person other than a person authorized to receive such information. Procurement officials take this prohibition very seriously; if a violation occurs, there may be criminal and civil penalties. The Trade Secrets Act 8 will prohibit Federal employees from divulging protected information, including confidential commercial or financial data, trade secrets, operations, processes, or style of work.
How CCC can help
As prime contractor to U.S. DoD for all contracts over USD $250,000, CCC has spent the last 65 years working closely with the U.S. DoD to connect American military needs with Canadian solutions.
If you’re a Canadian defence company looking to sell to the U.S., you may want to check out our step-by-step Guide to U.S DoD Market Entry and take the first steps toward doing business with the U.S. DoD.
Want to learn more? Contact us
This post was last updated on March 22, 2022.
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