How to Get Trucking Contracts with the Department of Transportation

Contracting for the Department of Transportation is an incredible opportunity with the government agency annually awarding billions in contract dollars. The proposed 2024 budget for the DoT is $145.3 billion, up from $142 billion the previous year. Lucky for small businesses, the federal government has special programs to ensure smaller companies secure at least 23% of contracting funds each federal fiscal year.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about what transportation contracting entails, how to get certified with these assistance programs, and where to look for DoT contracts.

What are Department of Transportation contracts?

Department of Transportation (DOT) contracts are agreements between the Department of Transportation, a government agency responsible for overseeing transportation-related matters, and contractors who provide goods or services related to transportation infrastructure, operations, or programs.

These contracts cover a wide variety of agencies and industries such as construction, maintenance, consulting services, research, and development, all aimed at supporting the DOT’s mission to ensure safe, efficient, and accessible transportation systems in the United States.

Within the Department of Transportation are ten different organizations, each with their own contracting authority:

  • Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • Maritime Administration (MARAD)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS)

Types of trucking contracts

While government agreements are the type of trucking contracts this guide will refer to, there are two other common types of contract trucking opportunities as well:

  • Government contracts are between a government agency, such as the Department of Transportation, and a contractor with their own specific regulations and compliance requirements.
  • Rate confirmation (sometimes referred to as short-term) is one of the most common transportation contracts and covers short-term transportation or single shipments.
  • Long-term contracts are agreements that cover an extended period such as months or years.

Subcontracting with the Department of Transportation (DOT)

Another way you can get your foot in the door with a government agency, such as the DoT, is through subcontracting. Subcontracting for the DoT involves smaller, more specialized businesses providing goods or services to prime contractors who have secured contracts with the DoT. In fact, it’s often easier for smaller businesses to enter through subcontracting due to lower barriers of entry and reduced competition compared to prime contracting

How to get trucking government contracts

Every year, the government sets aside at least 23% of federal contracting dollars for small businesses specifically. But here’s the catch: federal contracting is time-intensive, daunting, and requires multiple painstaking steps.

However, the rewards do make up for the hard work. Once your business is established and you’ve got your first government contract, it can be as simple as repeating the process. To help get you there, here is everything you need to know about registering, bidding, and winning federal transportation and trucking contracts.

Preparing your business for transportation government contracts

Becoming a federal contractor to bid on Department of Transportation contracts first requires navigating a structured registration process. Below are the critical steps you need to take to register and prepare your business for success in DoT contracting:

  1. Research the transportation industry: Conduct thorough research in transportation and infrastructure spaces to better position yourself with the trends, key players, and procurement opportunities.
  2. Register with Before bidding on government contracts, you’ll want to register your business in the System for Award Management (SAM), the primary database used by federal agencies.
  3. Receive an assigned CAGE (Contractor and Government Entity) code: These five-digit ID numbers are assigned and used by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) as a standardized method for identifying and tracking suppliers and contractors.
  4. Sign up for your Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number: These nine-digit identifiers help track organization reliability. This application is complex with around forms and accuracy is critical.
  5. Identify NAICS code(s) matching your business: This step can easily be done on the Census website. Accurate codes are crucial for targeting relevant transportation contract opportunities.

When registering your business to contract with the federal government, you can choose to self-register, or you can work with professionals who manage the registration process on your behalf. If you’d rather have the overwhelming and tedious registration process taken off your shoulders, contact us here to learn how we will support you.

Where to find government contracts for trucking

Whether you’re a longtime transportation contractor or just getting started, understanding how to apply for DoT contracts is essential for success. Below are some of the best strategies to help you navigate this competitive landscape and position yourself to win more contracts.

1. Take advantage of the resources available for small businesses

Small businesses interested in federal contracting have access to a variety of resources tailored to their needs, such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) and its Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) database. By utilizing these resources, small businesses can identify DoT contracting opportunities specifically set aside for small businesses, increasing their chances of winning contracts.

2. Get certified as a disadvantaged business for additional assistance 

Disadvantaged businesses, including those owned by minorities, women, and veterans, can benefit from specialized assistance programs and set-aside contracts offered by the federal government. These programs, such as the 8(a) Business Development Program and the Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) Program, provide support and procurement opportunities helping them compete effectively in the government transportation contracting arena.

Learn more about the guidelines for these certifications below:

3. Network and build long-term relationships

Now that you are all registered and set up to start finding government trucking contracts, it’s important to actively network with key stakeholders in the transportation industry. This can include government officials, prime contractors, industry associations, and other potential contractors. You can find these people by attending industry events, conferences, and networking opportunities. By establishing connections and building relationships you can gain future contract opportunities.

How to bid on government trucking contracts

1. Develop strong capability statements

Capability statements are marketing tools that highlight a contractor’s core competencies, qualifications, and past projects. Tailoring capability statements to showcase relevant experience in areas of interest to the DoT can increase your competitiveness and appeal to government contractors. Just like a job resume, you can create a “one size fits all” version, general variations, or more targeted capability statements, which usually are the most effective.

Contact us here if you want to learn more about how we can help write capability statements for DoT bids.

2. Learn how to prepare the perfect proposal

Once you’ve found a contract that is a good fit for your small business, you can begin preparing your proposal. A proposal is a formal document submitted by a contractor to a solicitation from a government agency. Government agencies are required to share the details of the contract before you submit your proposal, giving you any information you may need to make your bid. 

Crafting a strong and compliant proposal is essential for businesses seeking to secure DoT contracts, as it serves as the primary means of communicating their capabilities and value proposition to the contracting agency.

Click here to get our guide and learn more about writing a proposal and bidding on contracts.

3. Seek government trucking contracting opportunities proactively

In the competitive landscape of government trucking contracting, proactive pursuit of opportunities is key to success. Remember that consistent effort and engagement in the trucking contracting community can lead to a steady pipeline of bidding opportunities. Here are some ways to stay ahead:

  • Regularly monitor federal and DoT procurement portals.
  • Attend industry events related to the Department of Transportation.
  • Network with transportation officials to stay informed about upcoming opportunities.
  • Connect with other government contractors to learn how they are positioning themselves.
  • Sign up for FAMR’s FedAdvantage programs to streamline the process while maximizing results.

Become a DoT contractor with FAMR – and win more bids! 

By leveraging a combination of these strategies and tips, you can effectively and more easily find transportation contracting opportunities that align with your business capabilities. In turn, you’ll be able to increase your chances of success in winning DoT contracts for trucking and transportation.

If you’re just getting into government trucking contracting, but aren’t registered yet, we suggest enlisting the support of our FAMR registration specialists. Already registered? The FAMR portal can streamline the bidding process for DoT contracts and equip you with a team of our contracting experts to support you! 

Give us a call or reach out to us today to see how we can help position your business for trucking contracts.

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