Self-Registering to work with the Federal Government: What you need to know

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard how registering businesses to work with the U.S. Government opens them up to a wealth of exclusive opportunities across both the federal and private sectors.

Well, it’s true, and it goes double for small businesses and organizations that meet certain conditions—such as those being run primarily by veterans, women, or citizens operating in HUBZones

From gaining access to exclusive contracts with preferential bidding, to becoming eligible for federally supplied awards aimed at industries of all kinds, the advantages of registration are hard to argue with. Best of all, self-registration is completely free.

Though before getting started, it’s important that self-registering business know what to expect—as well as what other registration methods they might want to consider.

Who can Register?

For starters, any unregistered U.S. business owner can go ahead and begin their own registration process with the federal government right now at the federal system for awards management website,

Assuming everything goes off without a hitch, they’ll find themselves listed and ready to enjoy everything that the federal marketplace has to offer. Which is quite a bit, considering how in 2019 alone the Federal Government awarded certified businesses $5.4 trillion of contract work.

But that doesn’t mean the registration process itself is an easy one. The truth is, business registration with the federal government can actually be a fairly complex ordeal—especially if businesses want to ensure they get each and every benefit they’re due. It involves dozens of hours of delicate clerical work and ample correspondences over time; though that’s not said to discourage.

Trying Self-Registration

If businesses do take the time and effort to learn the full ins-and-outs of federal registration, and successfully complete the full filing process with accuracy for their specific certification type, the results are certainly well worth the effort.

Here’s a brief overview of the steps required:

Firstly, to be officially recognized by the federal government a business must acquire a CAGE Code. 

These are 5-character ID numbers can be given to organizations by the Defense Logistics Agency only after they’ve become registered with the systems for awards management database, and have acquired a Duns number.

So, let’s look at those two crucial parts of the process first.

1. Acquiring a Duns Number

Businesses need to get a DUNS number before they can successfully kick off the SAM registration process.

For Reference: A DUNS number refers to a Data Universal Numbers that organizations may acquire through the Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS).

Each number is a different nine-digit identifier that signifies a uniquely corresponding business—with over 330 million businesses registered across the globe to date—and they’re used to help track the reliability and financial stability of organizations. They’re also used to enable official relationships between separate corporate entities and governing bodies, which altogether is why the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency relies on them when approving CAGE Code applications.

The DUNS application process itself is full of questions, with roughly 50 different forms and fields to fill out. To avoid missing out on any of the advantages businesses are due, it’s crucial that owners complete each section accurately.

2. Getting SAM Registered

After acquiring a DUNS number, anyone can continue their registration process by visiting and following the instructions found on the website.

However, completing a fully compliant SAM registration does mean business owners will need to track down and supply another comprehensive range of legal and financial documentation that proves their business status, while also navigating an intensive form-filling process where the smallest filing error or accidental mark could cost an organization their eligibility.

In other words, self-registration is not something for the impatient or those prone to skip over the smaller details. 

To avoid wasting dozens of hours only to end up with lackluster results, this lengthy task and getting a DUNS number should only be done by those willing to thoroughly research everything that’s required to do it right. Especially when considering how making any changes after submission requires businesses to undergo a daunting, separate, re-filing process.

3. Submitting for a CAGE Code 

After completing the two registration processes above, businesses can finally use their listed status with the systems for awards management and their DUNS number to request a CAGE Code.

This next step involves one last submission process in which businesses must carefully fill out a final series of online forms. Afterward, if done correctly, the Defense Logistics Agency will issue them a CAGE Code specific to their organization—allowing them to access the federal marketplace and utilize it as they please.

4. Contracting on the Federal Marketplace

Entering the Federal Marketplace via self-registration is a major milestone, and it means the newly certified organization has an entirely new world of business potential laid out before them.

But gaining access to all that lucrative contract work and awarding opportunities isn’t as easy as just picking favorites from the crowd. The federal marketplace is a competitive arena, and while there is ample work to be had (when it comes to HUBZone and 8(a) certified businesses there are actually more contracts than there are businesses to claim them) organizations still need to submit proposals and vie against any others who might be interested in the same contacts.

That means after all the registration is said and done, staying on top of new contacting opportunities, effectively representing oneself through bids, and attracting procurement officers for awards are all ongoing requirements for any business to continue making the most of their presence on the federal marketplace.

Choosing the Professional Route

While self-registration can be rewarding, it is a difficult error-prone process which nobody need undertake alone.

Aside from the do-it-yourself method of registration there are many professional services offered by experts online who specialize in navigating the federal marketplace, registering businesses with the U.S. government, and optimizing their client’s marketplace performance into the future.

Why Pay for Registration?

Whether to avoid the registration process’ hefty time requirements, or to simply remove the risk of failure and relax knowing that everything will be completed correctly and expediently , third-party registration has become an increasingly popular alternative way to enter the federal marketplace.

Registration experts, like our own FAMR professionals, are eager to handle every step of businesses’ CAGE Code acquisition process. From directing organization’s through each step of their DUNS verification, to taking care of every end of their nuanced SAM registration process, these services are here to provide businesses a convenient avenue to engage with the federal government. 

Although perhaps even more impactful are the marketing services that federal marketplace experts can offer once registration is done. From creating landing pages that are specially designed to help businesses shine out and attract awarding officers, to establishing day-to-day notifications of excellent work opportunities for businesses to bid on, these ongoing services are designed to ensure registered businesses succeed in the completive federal marketplace and provide some of the most value that marketplace professionals have to offer.

Finding a Registration Service you can Trust

Lastly, it should be remembered that not every entity out there who claims to be made up of federal marketplace specialists provide entirely reliable service. 

So, if you do opt to go with the more straightforward and professional method of federal registration, be sure to check reviews from a trusted source before making any commitments to guarantee quality service.

Registering your Way

Regardless if you decide to take on the registration process yourself, or let the professionals handle it for you, the advantages of working with the federal government are plain to see.

The contracting work and federal awards claimed so far have been substantial enough to scale businesses to even greater heights, and new opportunities are listed on the federal marketplace every day. But to learn more about registration for yourself, feel free to check out our additional resources on the process here.

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