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The first step in doing business with the federal government is to get a D-U-N-S number from Dun and Bradstreet. Next, every business doing business with the federal government has to be in a database called the CCR – Central Contractor Registry. It’s clearly laid out, but it may take you awhile to complete the steps. Don’t worry, though – as soon as you start the process, you’ll get a temporary registration so that you can leave and come back to finish filling in the different screens.

One of the fields you’ll have to fill in is your North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code(s). This is the system of classification that federal government agencies use to find businesses that provide a particular service. As well, each NAICS code tells you how big that particular type of business can get and still be considered a small business.

You may have more than one NAICS code, for example under information technology there’s a code 541-512 for systems design, and there’s another one 541-513 for system implementation. TAPE, LLC is listed in both of those. Initially there is space to register 10 codes, and you can add more later.

When you’re done with the Central Contractor Registry process, you will get a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code. This code will uniquely identify you as ONE company entity that encompasses all of your locations, divisions, etc.

We’ll talk more about CAGE codes, maintenance dates and ORCA. No, not ORCA the whale – stay tuned!

Update, February 20, 2013: The SAM website (System for Award Management) has consolidated the registration tools at CCR/FedReg, ORCA, and EPLS. To find out how to register your business in SAM, check out the podcast and presentation put together by my friends at WIPP (Women in Public Policy).

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