For electrical contractors, architects, engineers, security and life safety system vendors and others, the prospects of working on government construction projects may seem challenging, but efforts in learning the process and submitting bid proposals can be rewarding. Keep in mind that the U.S. government is one of the largest consumers in the world, and while we may sometimes speak negatively about its processes and procedures, it can be a great source of work.
The Internet is a good place to start on the path to winning a federal contract. Review new federal projects listed on FedBizOpps.gov. Once on the site, scroll through the opportunities, and you can register as a vendor. You may uncover potential opportunities in your particular area of expertise. In reality, it is not much different than searching out business opportunities in the private sector. In fact, it may be easier and more rewarding.
Find a solicitation number, e.g., GS000000. It will describe sources sought and the date of the original synopsis. In the general information posted on the Web page, you will have specific language on guidance and response dates, posted dates, classification codes, etc. The posting will give a detailed outline of estimated construction cost, estimated project duration and other pertinent information related to the construction.
The project requirements will be spelled out in a scope of professional services needed and may include professional engineers, electricians, architects, landscape architects, interior design, building information modeling and other specifications. Statement of capabilities and questions related to eligibility for small business-certified programs, women-owned business or service-disabled small business might be requested. Information related to small business administration (SBA) programs can be found on www.sba.gov. The contracting office address, the location of performance and primary point of contact will all be listed in the solicitation outline.
What will the government be looking for in the construction of a new federal courthouse, for example? In a nutshell, just about everything to ensure the safety of the occupants and uninterrupted continuity of judicial process. These buildings are symbols of the U.S. government and, as such, are potential targets of domestic and foreign terrorists.
External security requirements could include rated bollards, crash gates, ballistic/blast-resistant energy-efficient curtain walls, blast-resistant security gatehouses, blast-resistant closed-circuit television (CCTV) perimeter-monitoring systems, and blast-protective wrapping on the building skeleton. Added to this could be requirements that the fortresslike protection must be aesthetically pleasing.
Internal security concerns could include, but are not limited to, state-of-the-art security CCTV monitoring systems, stringent employee entry access points requiring identification cards, and biometric reader access verification along with X-ray of bags.
Visitor requirements could include X-raying bags, conducting nonintrusive body scans, issuing color-coded photo IDs, using explosive sensors, etc., all of which would be taking place in a blastresistant area before access to elevators, lobbies, courtrooms, bathrooms, cafeterias and other public areas.
Facility requirements can include blast-resistant louvers on air intakes; chemical and biological monitoring systems for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; and ballistic and blast-resistant safe rooms for judges. HVAC systems will need separate controls for each of the various courts and offices and will be monitored at a central location operated by the facility engineers. A major focus will fall on the security and life safety command center that will be manned 24/7 and will have trained security personnel monitoring hundreds of CCTV cameras, both internal and external. Fire suppression and detection systems, with electronically monitored fire extinguishers, will be located throughout the building.
Prisoner security and the detention of prisoners within the court is another matter of specific security and electronic requirements that will be spelled out in the solicitation.
Needless to say, there is a menu of codes and mandated regulatory compliance requirements in the construction of any government building. opportunities and rewards exist for those contractors and vendors who are qualified, professional and persistent in their pursuit of these government contracts.
COLLINS—a public safety and terrorism expert with three decades of experience in law enforcement, fire safety and high-rise safety management—is the director of Corporate Hi-Rise, Institutions and Private Client Solutions at ADSI and is New York City’s former police director for the Department of Environmental Protection.