One of the more common questions the PTAC gets is, "Do I have to pay to register my business for government contracting?"
The simple answer is: no.
The slightly-longer-and-less-simple answer is:
You should absolutely NOT be paying anything to meet the basic requirements to do business with the federal government. But, unfortunately, there are numerous companies out there that recognize an opportunity to exploit a service that shouldn't cost business owners a penny.
Because the process for registering your business to do work with the government can be complicated and confusing, many companies take advantage of the fact that people may do a simple Google search - "System for Award Management" or "DUNS number", for example - and then click on the first result that comes up. These companies typically charge a fee of between $300 and $600 depending on the registration or "package" you choose. However, almost everything you do in relation to government contracting can be done free of chage and the PTAC can assist you with the entire process, making sure unnecessary charges for these registrations aren't incurred. The best thing to do before getting started is to call the PTAC. Our program can offer free, step-by-step guidance through all facets of the process.
But if you do get started on your own, it's important to know the difference between the legitimate resources and those that are simply trying to make a few dollars. For example, if you want to obtain a DUNS number, which is absolutely required to do business with the government, make sure you use this website: D&B Webform. Or call them directly at (866) 705-5711. Dun & Bradstreet, the company that issues the DUNS number, will do so for free. But they also offer other products and services that include a fee. Don't pay for any of them when obtaining a DUNS number.
There are also many companies that charge to help you register in the System for Award Management (SAM), another absolute requirement. The most common are the U.S. Federal Contractor Registration, the Federal Contractor Registry, and the United States Business Registration. All of these companies charge nearly $600 for their services and, while they're not doing anything illegal, can't provide the one-on-one attention you'll get with the PTAC. Also, after you pay, they're nearly impossible to contact if a problem arises.If you attempt to register in SAM on your own, make sure you end up here.
Back to the simple answer: a business should not pay anything to complete the necessary registrations for government contracting. Before you get started, contact the PTAC at (307) 259-7931 to make sure you're registering in the right places.