An Introduction to Government Contracting

By Aaron Ritsig, Government Contracting Specialist, Northwest Commission PTAC

How much our governments – federal, state, and local – spend is a constant topic of conversation in our society. The Federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars via contracts each fiscal year, making it the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services by a wide margin. And combined, state and local governments across the U.S. spend billions more. These contracts run the gamut from battleship components to office supplies and landscaping services. But as a business owner, have you ever thought about getting some of those contracts for yourself?

Some business owners discount the idea of working for the government, as they think that a small business can’t compete with huge contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, or that government contracting is too complicated. But in the 2020 fiscal year, small businesses received 26.02% of all federal contracting dollars! In Pennsylvania, small, small diverse, and veteran-owned businesses received 17.9% of state government contracting dollars.

As previously mentioned, those contracting dollars weren’t just for defense projects. The government (federal, state, or local) buys a wide variety of goods and services. You’d be surprised to learn what constitutes a small business, not to mention how many small businesses are well-positioned to win government contracts.

Here are the key elements you should have in place when selling to the government: • An Identifiable Product or Service: Above all else, you need to offer a clear solution to whatever problem the government is trying to solve
• Commercial Success and Stability: A stable business infrastructure and a secure financial foundation are vital to showing the government you’re a responsible and trustworthy supplier
• Past Performance: Good past performance on government contracts also helps to establish trustworthiness, but commercial performance of similar size and scope can help as well
• Time, Resources, and Commitment to Succeed in Government Contracting: Government contracting is just like any business venture – it requires time, energy, drive, resources, and support from leadership to see a good return on investment

As for the idea that government contracting is too complicated – the Northwest Commission is here to help! Funded by a cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense, we’re dedicated to connecting local area businesses with potential government buyers.

The best part? Because we’re publicly-funded, all services are offered to you free of charge. To learn more, visit

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This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s July 2022 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

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