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Business owners learn to navigate red tape for federal contracts

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Millions of dollars worth of federal contracts are up for grabs for Indiana business owners.

The process of navigating through all that red tape to get contracts can be overwhelming.

For the last two years, Marshall Williams and his friend have tried to nab a federal government contract for their small chemical distribution company.

“It’s a lot of red tape, a lot of paperwork, a lot of bureaucracy,” said Marshall Williams, one of the owners of Williams Distribution, based in Indianapolis. “It was overwhelming at first, but I knew because there are other people that are successful in it, I knew I could do it.”

That’s why quite a few small business owners came out to this year’s federal contracting networking summit Friday hosted by U.S. Sen. Todd Young and the National Defense Industrial Association.

The Republican from Indiana said, “We have some of the best manufacturers and service providers in the world here in Indiana. The federal government is one of the world’s largest enterprises. We just wanted to connect the two to create Indiana businesses, grow jobs and increase wages.”

Business owners told News 8 they learned how to read and write contract proposals, and go straight to the government agency they want to contract with.

Rabia Khan was pleasantly surprised to learn the feds are open to small businesses like her information technology firm.

“I didn’t know about that before. I was surprised,” said Khan, who owns Managed System Solutions based in Carmel. “Even at that level — security and protection level — is where the government is trusting small businesses. And they’re open to giving projects and contracts to women-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses.”

Stacy Poynter with the U.S. Small Business Administration told News 8 that 23% of all federal contracts have to be assigned to small businesses.

“The federal government needs things from buildings built, to lawns mowed, to paper, to pens, computers. So, there’s opportunity out there. Fedbizops is a great website,” said Poynter, the district director of the Small Business Administration.

Poynter said $847 million were awarded to Hoosier small businesses last year. “Unfortunately, there is red tape, but we offer assistance. We can work with them one-on-one. We also have set-aside programs to help narrow the competition such as our women-owned program.”

Khan and Williams said they are ready to dive in.

“I feel great!” Williams said. “I feel empowered.”


Here is key information on how to work with the federal government in terms of contracting.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has helpful information on learning how to find and win contracts with the federal government.

The Small Business Administration also has useful information on contracting assistance programs. Call the Indiana District office of the Small Business Administration at (317) 226-7272.