There’s good news for small businesses. The federal and state government have made it a priority to award more contracts to small, women and minority-owned businesses. Government contracts can be lucrative and can create steady customers for your business.
There are many specific steps required for the government to consider you as a vendor, but there also are many options to help you navigate the federal and state procurement systems.
Virginia’s eVA system
Virginia’s online procurement system is your access to government buyers, including state agencies, local governments, and colleges and universities. Virginia’s electronic purchasing system can be accessed at http://www.eva.virginia.gov. More than $25 billion has been spent through eVA and more than 45,000 vendors have signed up. The PEW Center Charitable Trusts has called Virginia’s electronic procurement system one of the best in the country.
Here’s how to register with the eVA system.
Step 1: Evaluate how much Virginia spends on your product or service
- Click on “NIGP Code Look Up” in the left margin to find the codes that correspond with your product or service.
- Type key words into the search box about your product or service. These codes are important because buyers use these codes to look for vendors.
- Return to eVA’s home page. Click on the “Public Reports and PPEA Opportunities” link under the home page’s Quick Links.
- Click on the link next to the description “Order Summary with Standard NIGP Commodity Code Search,” which is located under “Public Reports.” Enter a date range and all codes that correspond with your business.
- Click on the blue NIGP code to evaluate the report. This report offers the vendor’s name, buyer, order date and price of purchase. This report will help you evaluate whether the state is a viable client for your business.
Step 2: Find upcoming business opportunities
- Click on “Solicitations and Awards” from the eVA home page. Search for opportunities by business keywords.
- Find future prospects by clicking on the “Future Opportunities” link on the eVA home page. Codes and keywords can be searched here. The results will show the estimated purchase date, the purchasing agency and details about future opportunities.
- The “State Contracts” link from the home page will show whether a statewide contract currently exists for your product or service.
Step 3: Take advantage of SWAM opportunities
- Small, woman- and minority-owned businesses (SWAM) should complete their SWAM certification to take advantage of Virginia’s efforts to increase purchases from SWAM businesses.
- Visit http://www.dmbe.virginia.gov/swamcert.html to fill out a free SWAM application.
- The Department of Minority Business Enterprise can provide more information on certification. Call toll free at 888-792-6323 or 804-786-6585 or email
Step 4: Register on eVA
- From the home page, http://www.eva.virginia.gov, click on the Vendor tab and use the “Vendor Sign-Up/Registration” link. Click on the “Registration Quick Guide.” You can call the Customer Care hotline at (866) 289-7367.
- Make sure you are prepared with the following information to register:
- Business location
- Federal Tax ID number
- Legal and trading business name
- Duns number.(Register online at http://www.ccr.gov)
- Name and contact information for employees who will manage your account.
- Your NIGP commodity codes
Step 5: Set up ARIBA
- Starting an ARIBA account will allow orders to route electronically to suppliers. ARIBA also allows suppliers to use e-Catalog functionality.
- From your eVA account screen, click on the ARIBA button on the upper navigation bar to register.
Step 6: Create an electronic catalog
- eVA allows users to create an electronic storefront for state procurement officers. You can use the site’s Basic Catalog to create a spreadsheet of your products and services or use a Punchout Catalog if you have an Internet site with shopping cart technology.
- From the eVA home page, click on the Vendor Tab. Click the “How to Create Vendor Catalogs” link.
Step 7: Use the Virginia Department of Business Assistance’s resources
- The VDBA gathers resources to direct business interested in selling to the government at http://www.dba.virginia.gov/documents/stc-current.pdf.
- One-on-one counseling sessions with state procurement assistance staff.
- The Supplier-Buyer Exchange is an electronic newsletter for buyers and sellers in the commonwealth. E-mail to add yourself to the distribution list.
- Supplier-Buyer networking events. Events will be listed at the department’s website.
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