Government Contracting Introduction The U.S. Government is the world's largest buyer of goods and services. Purchases by military and civilian installations amount to about $170 billion a year, ranging from complex space vehicles to paper clips, jan- itorial services to cancer research. In short, the government buys just about every category of commodity and service available. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has the responsibility of making certain that small business obtains a fair share of government contracts and subcontracts. This mission is spelled out in the Small Busi- ness Act of 1953, which established SBA: "The policy of Congress is that ... the gov- ernment should aid, counsel, assist and pro- tect, insofar as is possible, the interests of small business in order to ... ensure that a fair proportion of the total purchases and contracts or subcontracts for property and services for the government ... be placed with small business." Amendments to this act and other legislation in the intervening years have reinforced and expanded this vital mis- sion. SBA, working closely with federal agencies and the nation's leading contractors, carries out its procurement assistance responsibilities through a number of programs including: --Prime Contracting --Subcontracting --Procurement Automated Source System (PASS) --Certificate of Competency --Natural Resources Sales Assistance Thousands of contracts, worth billions of dol- lars, each year bypass small firms that do not know of or understand government buying and selling. This bulletin board is a key to government con- tracting for the small business firm. It con- tains basic information needed in selling to the U.S. federal government and describes ways SBA helps small businesses through contracting road- blocks. Further information on government buying methods; specifications, materials allocation, delivery and supplier problems; counsel on of- ferors' rights and obligations, appeal procedures, termination and default actions; help on contract- ual, financial and contract administration; and, advice on size criteria, are provided small firms without cost through SBA field offices.