Government contracts can be lucrative and reliable but because you’re dealing with an enormous bureaucracy, you’ll have many hoops to jump through. Landing a contract with the military requires extra documentation -- in part for security reasons -- and you’ll have many new terms and abbreviations to learn. Fortunately, most of the information you need is fairly easy to find. And there is plenty of help available, from a number of sources. If you are persistent, a Defense Department contract is well within your reach.
Obtain a DUNS number, if you don’t have one, from Dun and Bradstreet. DUNS, which stands for Data Universal Number System, is an identification system that assigns a nine-character ID to every business. You can apply for a DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet at the company’s website. There is no charge to obtain a DUNS number.
Register with the federal Central Contractor Registration. You must be registered with CCR to receive a Defense Department contract. If you win a contract, CCR will coordinate your electronic payments. CCR is linked to the U.S. Small Business Administration; contracting officers use it to locate and identify potential contractors, especially small businesses.
Obtain a Standard Alpha Carrier Code from the National Motor Freight Traffic Association. An SACC, which identifies you as a legitimate transportation business, is required for all businesses seeking transportation contracts with the department. Apply for one at the NMFTA website.
Learn all you can about the department's contracting procedures. The best place to start is by reading the Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement.
Identify the contract or contracts you want to bid on. You’ll find a complete and easily searchable list of available contracts at the Federal Business Opportunities website.
Look for more information -- specifically about Defense Department transportation contracts -- at the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command website. The site is the liaison between government shippers and transportation contractors. It is responsible for establishing and maintaining contracts with private carriers.
Visit a Defense Department Procurement Technical Assistance Center or the department’s “eBusiness” website. They both offer no-cost services to help you compete for Defense Department contracts. You’ll find a state-by-state list of assistance centers at the Defense Logistics Agency’s website. There is no need to go it alone -- none of your competitors are.