Frequently Asked Questions

APEX Accelerator and Support:

No. We do not charge for our services. We are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Under Secretary of Defense, Office of Small Business Programs, and administered by the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground.
APEX Accelerator considers a business to be ready for government contracting when it meets the following criteria:
1) Business is registered with a Secretary of State if the business structure is other than a sole proprietorship; e.g., LLC, S-Corp, Partnership. If the business structure is a sole proprietorship, it must be registered with the county and/or city where the business’ primary location/address
2) Has a product or service to sell to the government
3) Business is in good standing
4) The business is ready, has the infrastructure and resources to successively fulfill a government contract
After you become a GT APEX Accelerator Client, a Counselor will be assigned to you. Counselors can help in one or more ways:
• Support with bid package preparation.
• Pre/post-award contract assistance.
• Aid with electronic commerce/electronic data interchange.
• Guidance for small minority, women-owned, and disabled veteran certifications.
• Referrals to other programs or activities to support businesses when appropriate.
• Provide training on various contracting-related topics.
We serve as a valuable resource for all businesses, including those with less than one year in operation. Our role is to provide guidance to these new businesses by recommending services from our resource partners. The services are designed to strengthen their business models include but are not limited to the following:
• Advising clients to use online tools, SCORE, and SBDC for developing business plans.
• Guiding clients to utilize online websites and other resources to set up accounting systems.
Working with APEX Accelerator does not guarantee a contract. This depends on you and your willingness to invest time and resources. On average it takes 12-18 months (about 1 and a half years) to secure your first government contract, again, some may receive contracts sooner.
No. GT APEX Accelerator Counselors help for profit businesses learn how to navigate the basic government acquisition processes. GT APEX Counselor can assist non-profits register in SAM.gov, however, does not help them with grant or loan applications.
You will receive an email from GT APEX Accelerator counsellors with information on your assigned counselor and how to contact them.
We offer free webinars to help you continue your education. Register for a class on our training schedules

Small Business Programs:

The SBA’s size standards determine if your business qualifies as small using the North American Industry Classification System Codes (NAICs) you selected to describe the goods and/or services your company sells. Size standards vary by industry and are generally based on the number of employees or the average annual receipts over a five-year period. Size standards define the largest size a business can be to participate in government contracting programs and compete for contracts reserved or set aside for small businesses. You can find small business size regulations in Title 13 Part 121 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
The federal government has small business assistance certification programs that could provide contract-bidding preferences. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) handles certifications for the 8(a) Business Development, Woman and Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business, the HUBZone Program and the Service-disabled Veteran and Veteran-owned small business program.
The 8(a) Business Development Program is a business development program for small, disadvantaged businesses designed to help them compete in the American federal government contracting marketplace and promote diversity and inclusiveness in the federal acquisition process.
The 8(a) Program offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $7 million for goods and services and manufacturing. And, $4 million for construction contracts.
8(a) firms also can form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances the ability of 8(a) firms to perform larger prime contracts and overcome the effects of contract bundling, the combining of two or more contracts together into one large contract.
The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. The federal government has a goal of awarding 4% of all acquisition dollars for federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified small business concerns.
Program benefits for HUBZone-certified companies include competitive and sole source contracting and 10 percent price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions, and subcontracting opportunities.
The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 established an annual government-wide goal of awarding not less than 4% of all acquisition dollars for prime contract and subcontract awards to small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans.
Also, on December 16, 2003, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 established a procurement program for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concerns (SDVOSBCs). This procurement program provides that federal contracting officers may restrict competition to SDVOSBCs and award a sole source or set-aside contract where certain criteria are met.
To be eligible for the SDVOSBC, you and your business must meet the following criteria:
• The Veteran must have a service-connected disability
• The business must be small under the NAICS code assigned to the procurement
• The Veteran or veterans must unconditionally own 51 percent of the business and have full control
• The Veteran must hold the highest officer position in the business and must manage and control daily business operations
The Government has an annual government-wide goal of awarding not less than 7% of all acquisition dollars for all prime contracts and subcontract awards to small business concerns owned and controlled by WOSB.
To qualify the firm must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women, the women must be U.S. citizens, the firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry.
In order for a WOSB to be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the SBA eligibility requirements.

Registration and Certification:

To participate in federal government contracting, you must register your business in the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM). SAM is a database that government agencies search to find contractors, post contracting opportunities, display wage determinations and more. There is NO cost to register.
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code classify businesses based on the product or service they supply. A business will have a primary NAICS code, but it can also have multiple NAICS codes if it sells multiple products and services. Each code is separately considered as small if the threshold used for NAICS Code is not exceeded. SBA’s industry size standards thresholds are determined either by employee count or the average annual receipts over a 5-year period. To find your NAICS code, view the NAICS code list at the U.S. Census Bureau.
Yes, you can bid and make an offer, so long as you meet the procurement’s size standard for the NAICS code used in the solicitation and can provide the goods and/or services. However, it is recommended that you keep your SAM record up-to-date and include all the NAICS codes for which you have the required experience and resources.
The Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code is a five-character ID code using letters and numbers. This code is important for federal contracts. The code is not needed for state or local contracts. Once the SAM registration process is completed and validated, a CAGE code will be issued to you via email. Please be aware that SAM validation time could vary, taking anywhere from two to three weeks. PTAC SC can assist with completing the SAM registration process.
Yes. The federal government requires the completion of a mandatory registration: the System for Award Management Registration (SAM). SAM is a free registration and must be renewed annually. Many state and local agencies require companies to become registered directly with them to be eligible vendors for contracting. This information typically can be found on individual agency websites.

Finding Opportunities:

Federal contract opportunities for contractors are listed in the “Contract Opportunities Domain” at SAM.Gov. Government agencies shall post all contracting opportunities with an estimated dollar value is $25,000 and higher on SAM.gov. For opportunities that have estimated dollar values less than $25,000, Contracting Officers may post them on a third party website such as UNISON (FedBid); or specific agencies’ websites such as US Department of Interior, DLA Internet Bid Board System (DIBBS), the US State Department, among others.
Contractors should make agencies aware that they will compete for lower dollar amount opportunities and accept government “P-Card” transactions.
SubNet is a database of subcontracting opportunities posted by large contractors looking for small businesses to serve as subcontractors.
The Federal Procurement Data Center reports statistics on procurement for more than 70 federal agencies. Some federal, state, and local government agencies, military installations and prime contractors publish procurement directories and forecasts on their websites.
All federal agencies are required to publicize bidding opportunities on SAM.gov Contract Opportunities Domain when the purchase is expected to exceed $25,000, so anyone with Internet access can find out about these opportunities. The dollar-level requirements for state and local agencies vary, so it is important to research this on each entity’s purchasing website.

Contract Types and Rules:

When at least two small businesses can perform the work or provide the products being purchased, the government sets aside the contract exclusively for small businesses. With a few exceptions, this happens automatically for all government contracts under $150,000.
Some set-asides are open to any small business, but some are open only to small businesses who participate in SBA contracting assistance programs.
Most contracts are competitive, but sometimes there are exceptions to this rule. Sole-source contracts are the kind of contract that can be issued without a competitive bidding process. This usually happens in situations where only a single business can fulfill the requirements of a contract.
Some set-asides are for small businesses in certain socio-economic categories. You can bid on these set-aside contracts by participating in any of the SBA's contracting assistance programs.
Yes, under set-aside award conditions, prime contractors may need to subcontract part but not all the work. There are limitations to the amount of work that you can subcontract. These limitations ensure that otherwise ineligible businesses don’t use small or disadvantaged businesses merely as vehicles to access set-aside contracts.
The limitations apply to contract set-asides for small businesses when the contract amount exceeds $250,000, and all other set-aside contracts under the 8(a), HUBZone, service-disabled veteran-owned, or women-owned small business programs.
• Service contracts: The small business prime contractor must provide at least 50% of the contract cost for personnel.
• Supply contracts: The small business prime contractor must perform work for at least 50% of the cost of manufacturing the supplies, not including the cost of materials, unless the business qualifies as a non-manufacturer.
• General construction contracts: The small business prime contractor must perform at least 15% of the cost of the contract with its own employees, not including the cost of materials.
• Specialty construction contracts: The small business prime contractor must perform at least 25% of the cost of the contract with its own employees, not including the cost of materials.
• Under the HUBZone, women’s contracting, or disabled veterans’ programs, the small business prime contractor can utilize similarly situated subcontractors to meet these performance requirements. • Under the HUBZone program, there are higher performance requirements for construction contracts.
The prime contractor's limitations on subcontracting are explained in detail in 13 CFR 125.6
The non-manufacturer rule is an exception to the usual requirement that contractors supplying goods to the government perform at least 50 percent of the cost of manufacturing the items. Simply put, it allows a small business to supply products it did not manufacture — if those products come from another small business.
The SBA can waive the non-manufacturer rule requirement. To do this, the contracting officer must apply for a non-manufacturer rule waiver.
The regulations that govern the non-manufacturer rule are outlined in 13 CFR 121.406.
No. In many instances the government awards the contract to the company that provides the best value, and this does not necessarily mean the company offering the lowest price. Other factors such as technical capability, past performance and quality may also be considered. PTAC can help you interpret a request for bid or proposal so that you understand which evaluation factors will be used in determining who gets the contract.
• Always request a debriefing.
• Ask who won the contract.
• Ask how you can improve for the next opportunity.
• Ask about what future opportunities will be available.
• If you feel there are opportunities with that agency for small purchases with companies like yours and you feel your contact was not interested in your business, identify if cold calling purchasing/departments would be appropriate. You can often find these contacts by doing creative searches on their websites or calling the general number on their website.
• Build relationships (support their goals; don’t do pressure sales).
• If all else fails, review your marketing plan.

General Contracting Information:

Federal, state, and local government agencies buy everything from toothpicks and cleaning services to spaceships and cancer research. The key is to determine which government agencies buy the products and/or services you sell and to develop a focused marketing strategy targeting those agencies. Look for opportunities that you are interested in and see what company was awarded the last contract and the terms – you can search https://www.usaspending.gov/ or SAM Contract Opportunities for recent awards.
The federal government purchases from businesses of all sizes, located throughout the country, for all types of services. Look for opportunities that you are interested in and see what company was awarded the last contract and the terms – you can search www.usaspending.gov or www.sam.gov for recent awards.
The government Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a process for bidding on government projects. Once a government agency releases an RFP bidders can submit a proposal and attempt to win the work contract. The RFP government bids process is a precise proposal application that is highly regulated.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) purchases goods and services of all kinds, many of them being commercial or general purpose in nature. The GSA helps other federal and even state and local agencies obtain merchandise and services at volume discount pricing. In terms of the dollar amount of purchases by federal agencies, the GSA is the third largest buyer. GSA Schedule (also referred to as Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) and Federal Supply Schedule ) is a long-term governmentwide contract with commercial firms providing federal, state, and local government buyers access to more than 11 million commercial supplies (products) and services at volume discount pricing.

Georgia State Specific:

Yes, the Georgia Dept of Transportation (GDOT) offers a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification to compete for contracts and subcontracts in Georgia. The Georgia Dept of Administrative Services-TEAM GA Marketplace offers a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification to help small businesses market to Georgia prime contractors for subcontracting opportunities.
Please note that the state of Georgia does not have set-aside contracting opportunities for small businesses unless the procurement requires federal dollars.