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When the government wants to use a contractor, public policy dictates that they ask for specific information, such as:

  • What is the size of your business?
  • Do you deal in toxic chemicals?
  • Do you do business in particular countries?
  • Does your small business qualify for special status?
  • Have you filed your EEO-1 report with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission?
  • Etc.

The government got tired of looking over all this paperwork, so they created an online system where they can find the answers to their questions. It’s called the Online Representations and Certifications Application system, or ORCA for short. Now we all remember the movie about ORCA the killer whale, except this ORCA doesn’t kill you, it saves you – time!

ORCA aggregates the basic data from the CCR, along with additional data from Dunn and Bradstreet. So as you go through and complete the different certifications that are required, they’re time-stamped and stored in the ORCA system.

That means that anytime you sign a contract response for a federal government contract, the agency can check the ORCA system to verify that you meet the criteria established in that particular posting.

So it’s not sufficient just to be in CCR, you have to also register in ORCA, where you will be asked for your DUNS number (Dunn and Bradstreet), as well as a Marketing Partner ID Number (MPIN) that is generated when you register in CCR.

Are you starting to see what I mean when I say that the fish don’t jump in the boat? Stay tuned, I’ll help you get all the right gear together.

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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