Question: With this economy, boat work has been slow. We’d like to get into military contract work and have heard we have a good chance, since we’re used to working with canvas, and government jobs use a lot of heavy fabric. Where do we go to find out about government bids?
Answer: The U.S. government buys a lot of textile products, so bidding on government and military contracts can be a good way to keep your shop busy. Contract opportunities of $25,000 or more must be posted to FedBizOpps (Federal Business Opportunities), so that is a good place to start.
There are things you need to know before you get started. First, you need to register your business. To register, your company must have a DUNS number (Data Universal Numbering System) from Dunn & Bradstreet. Once you have your DUNS in place, you can register at the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). A few days after you register with the CCR, you complete the process by filling out the Online Representation and Certifications Application (ORCA).
Lastly, you need to be aware of something called the Berry Amendment. This amendment requires the Department of Defense to purchase goods made from U.S. materials. There are exceptions, of course, and it is possible to get a waiver. The Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) is a good source of information on the Berry Amendment, but chances are, if you’re working with a supplier familiar with military specifications, they’re aware of the Berry Amendment and can tell you if their material meets the requirements.