The federal government is the largest purchaser in the world. It buys (or “procures”) hundreds of billions of products and services.
For this reason, procurement can be profitable for contractors selected to meet the government’s needs. When a tribal business is the designated contractor, the revenues it earns may enable it to expand its operations and increase hiring in their tribal community.
Finding Contracting Opportunities
Federal contracting opportunities are listed online on sam.gov/content/opportunities.
This government-wide website identifies federal procurement contract opportunities with a value of over $25,000 and provides information about awarded contracts.
Some small businesses also subscribe to bid-matching services that give leads on potential procurement contract opportunities that match a company’s qualifications.
These subscriptions can often be obtained for free through your local American Indian Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). PTACs have cooperative agreements with the Department of Defense (DoD) to offer free services to help potential clients who are interested in federal procurement opportunities.
Required Application Documents
To compete for federal contracts, a federally recognized tribe or Native-owned firm must obtain various kinds of certifications and identities including a DUNS number, CAGE Code, System for Award Management registration, and NAICS codes. It should also have an up-to-date capability statement.
For assistance with this required documentation, you can consult with your local or American Indian PTAC.
Buy Indian Act
The Buy Indian Act is a law that authorizes the Department of the Interior, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the offices of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, to purchase supplies, services, and certain kinds of construction from qualified tribal vendors. The law requires Indian Affairs to use the Buy Indian Act authority to give preference to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) whenever authorized and feasible.
The yearly amounts of new contracts range from $20 to over $60 million dollars.
Find Buy Indian opportunities on beta.SAM.gov.
Any business that is owned by a federally recognized tribe or one or more member of a federally recognized tribe is eligible so along as: the combined AI/AN or tribal ownership constitutes no less than 51 percent of the enterprise; the AI/AN individuals or tribes, together, receive the majority of the earnings from the contract; and the management and daily business operations of the enterprise are controlled by one or more tribal members.
Technical Assistance Centers
American Indian PTACs provide technical assistance—usually free of charge—to tribally owned businesses that carry out or seek to carry out federal, state and local government or private sector procurement contracts.
The DoD Defense Logistics Agency has designated tribal government procurements as eligible for PTAC guidance. DoD administers all PTACs, both Native and non-Native.
American Indian PTACs serve as a bridge between federal buyers and suppliers. They are staffed by counselors familiar with federal contracting as well as government contracting at state and local levels.
They can help your business identify contract opportunities, understand contracting requirements, and prepare and submit bids. They can also help your business with the certifications required to do business in the federal marketplace, prepare your capability statement, and provide training to get your business ready for government procurement.
DED Technical Assistance
To develop contracting opportunities for Native businesses, DED collaborates with American Indian PTACs and tribal organizations to host Regional Economic Development and Procurement Conferences at key Indian Country locations. These conferences provide matchmaking and business training sessions that bring together tribal business owners with potential government and commercial customers.
DED has also hosted Industry Days events across the country. These events focus on industries like aerospace, cyber-security, and indigenous food production and are another opportunity for tribal businesses to connect with corporate and government buyers. These gatherings have resulted in millions of dollars in new and expanded contracts for Native-owned firms.
All tribes and Native-owned firms are eligible to participate in the Regional Economic Development and Matchmaking Conferences.
For an Industry Days event, federal procurement officers and prime contractors are only interested in meeting with tribes and tribally owned businesses that have the expertise, capacity, and background to meet their specific needs.
American Indian PTACs are responsible for identifying the businesses qualified to take part in these events based on their capability statements. You should contact your local American Indian PTAC if your firm is interested in the matchmaking opportunities provided by Industry Days.
- SAM.gov: Federal Contracting Opportunities
- Find your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
- Native American Contractors Association
Washington, DC 20240