How do I get started?


The federal government spends more than $580 billion annually on contracts for goods and services. The government is looking for both large and small businesses that can provide quality goods and services, on time, and at a fair and reasonable price. But, getting started in federal government contracting can often be an overwhelming and complex undertaking.

Businesses can enter the government market as a prime contractor, subcontractor, or both. The government and prime contractors are looking for established businesses with other customers and sales history, good past performance, and relevant past experience. Businesses should have adequate resources including capability, equipment, facilities, and financial. Businesses should also be internet capable and comfortable, have a record of personal and business integrity and ethics, and possess needed technical credentials.

To do business with the federal government, businesses must first register in the System for Award Management (SAM). is a public, searchable database listing all potential contractors that have registered to do business with the federal government.

There is NO COST to register or maintain your registration. The Wisconsin Procurement Institute (WPI) provides free help to businesses registering in SAM. Your business/ organization MUST be registered in SAM to sell to the federal government or apply for a federal grant.

Upon completing SAM registration, you will receive the option to update or register your business in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS). WPI strongly recommends that all small businesses registered in SAM also register in DSBS. DSBS is a searchable database used by both government agencies and prime contractors to conduct market research and find small businesses that may be able to compete on federal prime and subcontracts.

You will also need to do determine if your business is eligible for appropriate small business certifications. To begin determining if any of the U.S. SBA small business contracting programs applies to your business, please review the information at this WPI page.