Four Essential Tips to Help Contractors Get in on the $1.2 Trillion U.S. Infrastructure Bill

Government projects rose 39% during 2021 as signs of an exit from the pandemic were felt across the globe. And late last year, U.S. Congress passed a monumental $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill to help rebuild America. That’s great news if you’re a contractor or operate in the construction industry! Many contractors are trying to determine what they need to know in order to bid and win government contracts tied to the new Infrastructure Bill as funding flows into cities and communities across the nation.

Today’s your lucky day because the team at Bonfire has pulled together four tips to help suppliers in the construction space win big when it comes to government contracts (and save costs while doing it!). We’ll cover winning strategies to get your business prepared for all the new government construction projects hitting the streets as funding continues to be dispersed to municipalities, special districts, and other government agencies across the U.S. to rebuild core infrastructure.

1. Know what types of construction projects will be funded

This one is a no-brainer and a really simple place to start. Familiarizing yourself with what’s included in the Infrastructure Bill will help you to understand what types of projects you will want to look out for—and of course, if they align to the specific products or construction services you offer. Remember, we’re talking about $1.2 trillion dollars on infrastructure, which includes expanding broadband, repairing and rebuilding roads and bridges, improving transportation, and reducing greenhouse emissions. Large contractors and subcontractors, including those designated as small or disadvantaged businesses, will be needed to tackle these complex projects.

So what’s in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure deal? The almost three thousand-page Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes some new categories, in addition to the highway and infrastructure projects it typically allocates for. Here’s a high level summary on the new stimulus areas:

  • $110 billion for roads and bridges. In addition to construction and repair, the funding also helps pay for transportation research at universities, funding for Puerto Rico’s highways, and “congestion relief” in American cities
  • $66 billion for railroads. Funding includes upgrades and maintenance of America’s passenger rail system and freight rail safety, but nothing for high-speed rail.
  • $65 billion for the power grid. The bill would fund updates to power lines and cables, as well as provide money to prevent hacking of the power grid. Clean energy funding is also included.
  • $65 billion for broadband. Includes funding to expand broadband in rural areas and in low-income communities. Approximately $14 billion of the total would help reduce Internet bills for low-income citizens.
  • $55 billion for water infrastructure. This funding includes $15 billion for lead pipe replacement, $10 billion for chemical cleanup, and money to provide clean drinking water in tribal communities.
  • $50+ billion for cybersecurity and climate change. This resilience funding will protect infrastructure from cybersecurity attacks and address flooding, wildfires, coastal erosion, and droughts, along with other extreme weather events.
  • $39 billion for public transit. Funding here provides for upgrades to public transit systems nationwide. The allocation also includes money to create new bus routes and help make public transit more accessible to seniors and disabled Americans.
  • $25 billion for airports. This allocation provides funding for major upgrades and expansions at U.S. airports. Air traffic control towers and systems would receive $5 billion of the total for upgrades.
  • $21 billion for the environment. These monies would be used to clean up superfund and brownfield sites, abandoned mines, and old oil and gas wells.
  • $17 billion for ports. Half of the funds in this category would go to the Army Corps of Engineers for port infrastructure. Additional funds would go to the Coast Guard, ferry terminals, and reduction of truck emissions at ports.
  • $11 billion for safety. Appropriations here are to address highway, pedestrian, pipeline, and other safety areas with highway safety getting the bulk of the funding.
  • $8 billion for western water infrastructure. Ongoing drought conditions in the western half of the country will be addressed through investments in water treatment, storage, and reuse facilities.
  • $7.5 bill for electric vehicle charging stations. The Biden administration asked for this funding to build significantly more charging stations for electric vehicles across the nation.
  • $7.5 billion for electric school buses. With an emphasis on bus fleet replacement in low-income, rural, and tribal communities, this funding is expected to allow those communities to convert to zero-emission buses.

Source: Investopedia

If you want to go a bit deeper into the funding distribution, our friends over at the National Association of Counties (NACo) have pulled this handy resource together that includes great visuals and other resources. They also make updates to this page as funding continues to flow into the key areas of focus supported under the Bill.

2. Position your business to get in on the action

Now that you know where the money will be spent, what can you do to place your business in the best position to win government contracts? First, if you haven’t already done so, register your business with organizations to make it easier to be found and to increase your level of credibility. The first place to start is by registering your business on the System for Award Management (SAM) database, where you can create a profile making it easier for government procurement officers to find your business. Then, get on the pre-approved bidder list on the General Services Administration (GSA). Securing a contract with the GSA is also called “getting onto the GSA Schedule,” which means you’ve been approved to do business with the government.

As part of the registration process, you will need to apply for something called a DUNS number. All entities wishing to do business with the federal government must have a unique entity identifier (UEI). Currently, the DUNS number, which is a unique nine-character identification number provided by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) free of charge, is the official UEI.

With that out of the way, remember to start small as you begin bidding for government business. Government agencies view past performance as a key indicator of potential success, and to get your foot in the door, you should bid on projects where you’re confident you can deliver competitive value and where you’re certain that you have the resources to complete. There’s nothing worse than overcommitting on a project bid and then under-delivering on the expectations. Fortunately, for complex projects like those related to infrastructure, government agencies typically subcontract out services to multiple businesses that specialize in their respective area. Focus on construction projects that match your expertise and never overcommit.

3. Get a bid service like Bonfire Premium Vendor to help you find the right construction RFPs!

Here’s the biggest area where Bonfire can help. Over 500 government agencies post their construction solicitations on Bonfire in the hope to find contractors just like you! A bidding solution like the Bonfire Premium Vendor service aggregates tens of thousands of government projects passing through Bonfire every year and pulls them into a central dashboard built for you. Your own custom dashboard gives you a convenient place where you can enter keyword search criteria and apply filters to hone in on the construction projects that matter to you. That means you have a single destination to easily discover relevant bids that suit the specific products and construction services your business offers. It saves your business valuable time and effort typically spent searching the internet for relevant government projects. A Bonfire Premium Vendor subscription will even send recommendations right to your inbox, so you never miss out on the chance to win a government contract, and grow your business.

Last but not least, once you find the construction projects that meet your criteria, you can access all the bid details and submit your proposal directly from within the Bonfire Premium Vendor solution. Then sit back and follow your projects, get alerted when statuses change, and know when the contract gets awarded–and hopefully that award goes to you!

4. Know the general bid process and remember that bid accuracy is critical

So what does it take to be awarded a contract? Now that you have a subscription to Bonfire Premium Vendor, you’re ready to easily start bidding (the first step in the process) and as we mentioned, you can also submit your bids directly inside Bonfire Premium Vendor.

But let’s start with helping you understand the general process for government construction projects and RFPs (Request for Proposal). . The team at Smartsheet has put together this summary of the basic government construction tender process:

  • Bid Solicitation: The government buyer seeks bids and provides a package of material with drawings, specifications, and other scope documents. This is also known as making a request for proposal (RFP) or a request to tender (RTT). Over 500 government agencies use Bonfire to post their RFP solicitations online. You can easily find these bids with a Bonfire Premium Vendor subscription.
  • Subcontracting: General contractors take bids from subcontractors for pieces of work. Depending on the project method, this may occur after a general contractor wins a bid. In Bonfire, subcontractors can also make their services known to general contractors on a specific project!
  • Bid Submission: Builders/contractors submit bids by a deadline. Remember, you can also do this right inside Bonfire Premium Vendor!
  • Bid Selection: The buyer/government agency reviews bids and awards the contract to the winner.
  • Contract Formation: This phase finalizes the terms and lays the legal groundwork for the project.
  • Project Delivery: Construction takes place.

Source: Smartsheet

Understanding this process and then bidding with success depends on many factors. A pro-tip is making sure to pay close attention to the RFP/bid requirements and timelines, and ensuring the accuracy of your proposal/response. Accurate bidding requires you to estimate precisely how much a building will cost to construct, for example, in terms of labor, materials, and overhead costs. And when it comes to government construction projects, cost is a key factor in the evaluation criteria but remember, each project will be different and some projects may place heavier weight on qualifications or delivery timelines.

And remember, if you don’t feel overly confident, don’t worry; a Bonfire Premium Vendor subscription uses our guided online submission process that is fast, keeps you in compliance, and is backed by our award-winning support team if you ever need it.

And there you have it—four essential strategies to help your business win government construction contracts today and tomorrow. The opportunity to grow your business has never been more exciting, and a Bonfire Premium Vendor subscription can help.