Frequently Asked Questions
We have compiled frequently asked questions on various topics within the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. Search for your question from the list below.
1. How does a small business become officially designated as a Small Disadvantaged Business?
A. Small businesses may be certified as Small Disadvantaged Businesses by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Small Disadvantaged Businesses are eligible to receive certain preferences in federal procurement actions. Information on certification and procurement preference programs is available from SBA. It is significant to note that a small business need not necessarily be owned by a minority individual(s) to qualify for the Federal Small Disadvantaged Business Program.
2. What business opportunities does the Department of Labor have for my business?
A. The Department of Labor annually publishes its current and planned procurements and grants in the Procurement Forecast. The Procurement Forecast is also available in hardcopy from the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, Room N-6432, 200 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington D.C. 20210, fax 202-693-7297. You may obtain additional information by attending Vendor Outreach Sessions hosted quarterly by the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. Registration for the Vendor Outreach Sessions may be arranged by phone at 202-693-7299.
3. How do I become a Department of Labor vendor?
A. There are no pre-registration requirements to become a DOL vendor (i.e. contract with a DOL agency). Vendors are free to market at bi-monthly Vendor Outreach Sessions, follow-up on opportunities in the Procurement Forecast, and to communicate directly with Agency Small Business Contacts. The Vendor Outreach Sessions are particularly beneficial to vendors because they can meet several DOL agency personnel in one visit. The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization maintains a database of small businesses interested in doing business with the Department. Businesses that attend a Vendor Outreach Session are automatically added to the database. You may also be entered on the database if you mail a capability statement to U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), Room N-6432, 200 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington D.C. 20210.
4. Where can I obtain a loan or a grant to help start or grow my small business?
A. While the Department of Labor cannot provide financial assistance to small businesses, the Small Business Administration has a number of programs to financially and technically assist developing small businesses. The SBA may be reached by phone at 202-205-6600, or toll-free at 1-800-UASKSBA. The Department of Commerce also has programs to assist small businesses (phone 202-482-2000).
5. Does the Department of Labor buy information technology services and supplies?
A. Yes. Information technology business opportunities are identified in the Procurement Forecast. The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization has also published a list of DOL Agency Information Technology Contacts. The Department's quarterly Vendor Outreach Sessions provide an efficient means of effectively marketing your capabilities face-to-face with DOL agency information technology personnel.
6. Does DOL buy from General Services Administration (GSA) Schedules?
A. The Department of Labor takes advantage of the efficiencies of procuring goods and services from GSA's Schedule Contracts. Information on becoming a GSA Schedule vendor is available from GSA. GSA is available by phone at 202-708-5082.
7. What procurement preferences are available to small businesses?
A. The federal government utilizes several procurement preference programs for small businesses, including:
Small Business Set-asides, which restrict procurements to small businesses; the Small Disadvantaged Business Program, which favors certified SDBs in prime and subcontracting activities. This program includes the 8(a) Business Development Program, by which procurements may be limited to 8(a) enrolled firms or directed to a specific 8(a) firm; the HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) Program, through which procurements may be limited to HUBZone enrolled firms or directed to a specific HUBZone firm; the Women-Owned Small Business Program, which favors women-owned businesses in prime and subcontracting activities, including set-asides; and the Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program (SDVOSB), which encourages the use of SDVOSB businesses in prime and subcontracting activities.
Information on qualifying for and utilizing these programs is available from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
8. What is the Department of Labor's annual procurement budget?
A. In Fiscal Year 2006 (which ended September 30, 2001) the Department of Labor procured approximately $1.7 billion for goods and services. Of this, approximately $1.36 billion was expended via contracts (which includes orders from GSA Schedule contracts), and approximately $35 million was expended on small purchases.
Nearly eighty percent of DOL's procurement budget is spent in support of the Job Corps Program, and the bulk of Job Corps' expenditures are for the operation of Job Corps Centers. Job Corps also spends more than $100 million annually for construction services associated with Job Corps Centers. Job Corps also procures outreach and admissions services and other support services. The Job Corps Program can be contacted by phone at 202-693-3000.
The Department of Labor spends most of the rest of its procurement budget on Information Technology services and equipment, socioeconomic studies, and administrative goods and services.
9. What is the best way to market to the federal government?
A. Each federal agency, including DOL, has an Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). The OSDBUs promote the utilization of small businesses and are small businesses' advocates within their respective agencies. Each OSDBU office can instruct you on the best way to market to its agency. Most OSDBUs have established Web sites.
In the Department of Labor we have organized bimonthly Vendor Outreach Sessions (VOS), which provide an opportunity for small businesses to market with agency representatives face-to-face. At the Department of Labor, we also publish Agency Small Business Contacts and Agency Information Technology Contacts. However, the Vendor Outreach Sessions provide the best opportunity to meet with agency representatives.
Small businesses are advised to advertise their attributes and capabilities on the Small Business Administration's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) Pro-Net, an automated database of small businesses accessible via the Internet.
10. Does the Federal government offer any help to start and grow a small business?
A. The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides financial and technical assistance to small businesses through its Regional Offices. SBA maintains Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) throughout the nation to administer various types of assistance. Members of SBA's sponsored Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) often operate in concert with the SBDCs to provide added assistance. SBA also sponsors Womens' Business Centers to be of special assistance to women growing businesses.
The Department of Commerce also provides assistance to small businesses. BusinessUSA is a new online platform to help America's small businesses find services and information they need to help them grow, hire, and export. BusinessUSA will equip businesses with the latest tools and information to support innovation and job growth.
11. How can a small business learn of subcontracting opportunities at the Department of Labor?
A. Large current contracts and the contractors are identified in the Department of Labor's Procurement Forecast. Large businesses file subcontracting plans for contracts over $500,000, and contracting officers are responsible for ensuring the contractors perform in accordance with those plans. However, the prime contractor chooses with which businesses it specifically subcontracts.
Most Department of Labor subcontracting opportunities are with our Job Corps Center Operations contracts identified in the Employment and Training Administration section of the Procurement Forecast.
The Small Business Administration has established SUB-Net for prime contractors to use for posting subcontracting opportunities.
12. I am looking for Workplace Posters. Where can I find them?
A. You can find them at the Workplace Posters site. The Department of Labor has also designed the elaws Poster Advisor to help employers comply with the poster requirements of several laws administered by the Department of Labor (DOL). These laws require employers to display official DOL posters where employees can readily observe them. DOL provides the posters at no cost to employers.
The Poster Advisor only provides information about federal DOL poster requirements. You may want to contact your state Department of Labor to obtain information about your state's requirements.
13. What is the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization?
A. The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) administers the Department of Labor's responsibilities to ensure procurement opportunities for small, small disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses, serves as the Department's central referral point for small business regulatory compliance information and questions.
14. What grant opportunities are available from the Department of Labor?
A. Department of Labor grant opportunities are identified by agency in the Department's Procurement Forecast, on the Employment and Training Administration's Web site, and in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.