What is a U.S. Federal Registered Contractor?

April 6, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

The U.S. Government may not exactly be a business, but it’s an enormous organization, which in many ways functions in a manner not unlike large corporate entities. Among these is its procurement system. Just like a corporation, the government needs to purchase a tremendous amount of goods and services, and without structure to the process, it would not only be chaotic, but there would also likely be unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ dollars. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy, part of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, is charged with shaping the policies, procedures and regulations in the acquisition process, and works to make things as efficient and effective as possible, considering the sheer volume of purchasing which the government does.

Like any big organization, a lot of the procurement management process involves the oversight of contractors, by which we mean private companies whose goods or services are produced for contracts with the federal government. Roughly one dollar out of every six spent by the government ends up in the hands of government contractors, and at times, that process has become, well, rather inefficient to say the least. So systems have been put into place to regulate and oversee relationships with these contractors.

Until 2012, this was primarily managed through the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). The CCR collected data from contractors, validated it and stored it in a database, and made all this information available to the various acquisition groups with federal agencies. At that time, a consolidation process began which combined the CCR database and several others into the System for Award Management (SAM). This was done for further efficiency, to eliminate redundancy between multiple databases, and also to provide a unified help desk for any issues related to these databases.

Any supplier who wishes to do business with any part of the federal government is required under Federal Acquisition regulations (FAR)  to be registered with SAM regardless of the types of goods or services they provide, or their size. Small businesses looking to sell to the federal government can get some help getting set up as a registered federal contractor through the SBA, and may receive some additional benefits, since some agencies require that a certain percentage of their purchasing is “set aside” for small businesses. Companies wishing to register a federal contractors also need to obtain a DUNS number  and also identify the NAICS code for their type of product or service. If a company was previously a registered contractor through CCR, they were automatically entered into SAM in the transition.

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