by Melissa Becker, Government Contracting Specialist,
Apex Accelerator, Northwest Commission

Pursuing contracts with the Department of Defense (DoD) is not for everyone; it requires patience, persistence and an in-depth understanding of federal acquisition rules. It typically takes at least 18 months of planning before a government contractor wins their first contract. Plan to invest significant time and resources in becoming procurement-ready, identifying potential opportunities, marketing to potential clients, developing proposals, implementing your first DoD contract and complying with DoD rules.

While it’s not easy, there are local, regional, and national resources and tools that can help you pursue your first DoD contract.

Getting Started

APEX Accelerators (formerly Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, PTACs) are funded in part by the DoD and are tasked with assisting companies of all sizes to navigate the government market which includes anything from registrations, certifications, market research, solicitation reviews, proper bid submission and compliance guidance. APEX Accelerators serving northern PA are the Northwest Commission APEX Accelerator ( and APEX Accelerator at the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission (

Know & Understand the Rules

When it comes to following the rules, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) govern DoD acquisitions. DoD contractors and subcontractors need to follow these rules in order to pursue contract opportunities. These regulations are complex and are part of every solicitation and the resulting contract.

Cybersecurity Regulations

A particularly vital contracting compliance requirement, in place for a few years and is currently now seeing significant changes, is the cybersecurity regulation. There are specific policies that must be followed and a new certification program is on the horizon. DoD has made CMMC 2.0 a top priority and contractors will start seeing the requirement show up in contracts as soon as later this year.

Side Note: DoD Compliance & Opportunity Forums are scheduled on March 21 (Erie) and March 22 (Kersey). The program will feature lunchtime keynote speaker Kelley Kiernan, Chief Technology Officer/Blue Cyber Director, Department of Navy SBIR/STTR) and also panelists of Prime Contractors sharing their perspectives on cybersecurity logistics. See all the details and register at