Don’t be fooled: SAM and other federal registrations are still free

Watch out for urgent “SAM Renewal” notices, preferred “vendor listings”, sole-source promises, and other marketing tactics

A growing number of for-profit firms are jostling to sign you up for their services – services that your business might not need or want. Their sophisticated marketing campaigns target small businesses with official sounding emails and texts directing you to sign-up for services – for a hefty fee, of course. PTACs regularly hear from business owners who – thinking they are responding to a government official – mistakenly commit to a sales contract they were not seeking and find themselves unable to get out of. Worst of all, many of the sales pitches are for the same services that PTACs provide at no cost.

Knowledge is the best defense. Below are details of some recent campaigns that have come to APTAC’s attention.  Be alert to any such communications you receive – or anything similar – and think carefully before responding.  If you have questions or suspicions, feel free to reach out to a PTAC to discuss. As with any business decision, thorough research into qualifications, costs, and realistic expectations and deliverables are key to determining the right solution for your business. Never let yourself be pressured into a hasty decision or enticed by an “easy fix”. Careful due diligence is always the best investment you can make.

Recent marketing campaigns that we’ve been alerted to include:

  • SAM “Renewal” notices, in which business owners are exhorted to renew their SAM registration and “Click here to continue to receive federal payments” or call a designated number to “renew over the phone“. SAM renewals are accomplished online – there is no capability to renew “over the phone” unless you are paying someone else to do it online for you.  And SAM registration allows the government to pay vendors electronically without the need for an intermediary.  This notice also incorrectly states:“Fail to renew your Registration, and the government will place your business on the federal watch list.” There is no such thing! Renewing a SAM registration is a simple task that many business owners can accomplish easily, on their own.  For those with questions, or for those who need help making changes, PTACs stand ready to help – at no cost to the business owner.
  • “Vendor Listings”: PTAC clients have been reporting contacts from “US Army Contracting officers” who request their Capability Statement and then urge them to register with a private firm (which also offers consulting services) to include their company on its vendor listing (for a substantial fee).  One client dug deeper to discover that the “contracting officer” listed in the email had no knowledge of the firm and that the email address it came from (complete with “.mil” address) was not a valid email. Consulting a private “vendor listing” for agency purchasing runs counter to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), and any claim to the contrary should be viewed with skepticism.
  • Easy sole-source promises: We’ve just become aware of a newer firm that promises “to connect qualified applicants to sole and sub source contracts with the United Nations and government agencies domestically and abroad.”   Their very personalized and targeted marketing campaign is forthright about being a company and not an agency—but the company implies that they can offer immediate, concrete and assured opportunities, including the statement “Sit back, relax, and watch the orders come to you. Be ready to fill them!”  Beware of promises like these that seem too good to be true. Success in government contracting requires a carefully-considered, long-term strategy and hard work.  There are no short cuts.
  • “Profile Processing”: Have you just registered (or renewed) with SAM?  You may receive a notice that says, “Your Profile Information has been received and is processing. . . . Call us via our helpline at (xxx) xxx-xxxx to find out your company’s eligibility and compliance requirements” or something similar.  This is NOT from the government!  It is from one of several private firms that want you to pay them big bucks (up to $3500 or more) to handle your profile. They monitor SAM registration activity closely – and then send emails like these (or even text messages) that may seem like a government confirmation or follow-up.  Offers to “review eligibility” or “find out what needs attention” come from private firms – not SAM or any other federal agency – and will include a significant price tag.

Of course there are circumstances in which it makes sense for a small business to pay a consultant for specialized legal or financial help or for intensive project development, and there are many qualified professionals to choose from. But it is important to make these decisions based upon your specific needs in the context of your long-term strategy.

Remember: There is NEVER a fee to register as a government contractor. Repeat – there is NEVER a fee to register as a government contractor. And there is free and low-cost help available to get you through the process.

For those who’d like help with registrations, renewals, certification applications, or any other government contracting issue, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) provide and free and low-cost expert assistance with all aspects of government contracting, offering classes, one-on-one counseling, bid-matching services, advice on proposal preparation, matchmaking/networking opportunities and much more. Many PTAC counselors have backgrounds in government acquisition offices or prime contractor government contracting departments, so they bring real world experience to help you.

For those companies that need more basic business assistance, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide the same kind of hands-on, personalized help for general business operation topics. Because small companies must make every dollar count, it’s smart to leverage these services that are provided through non-profit, federal-local partnerships for the specific purpose of supporting small businesses.

To receive assistance with any aspect of vendor registration with any government agency at no cost, please feel free to contact a PTAC near you.


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Assistance topics include (but are not limited to!):

  • Determining Suitability for Contracting
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  • Marketing
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  • Proposal Preparation
  • Contract Performance Issues
  • Preparing for Audit



More about Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)

Ninety-eight PTACs – with over 300 local offices – form a nationwide network of procurement professionals dedicated procurement professionals working to help local businesses compete successfully in the government marketplace. Funded under the Defense Logistics Agency’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program through cooperative agreements with state and local governments and non-profit organizations, PTACs are the bridge between buyer and supplier, bringing to bear their knowledge of both government contracting and the capabilities of contractors to maximize fast, reliable service to our government with better quality and at lower costs.