Capabilities Statements for Government Contracting

Capabilities Statements are Essential Tools for Marketing to Government Agencies:

PTAC clients often ask about how to best present themselves to government officials, particularly contracting officers, small business specialists, and prime contractors. PTAC counselors —many of whom are former contracting officers themselves — consistently advise that there are four key ingredients to making a favorable impression within the government marketplace:

  • Familiarizing yourself with the particular agency you are targeting,
  • Being prepared to deliver a concise “elevator speech” (a 30-second description of your expertise),
  • Presenting a business card which displays your CAGE, NAICS, and NIGP codes, and
  • Having a “Capabilities Statement.”

While the first three ingredients are fairly straightforward, here’s what’s important to understand about creating a Capabilities Statement for your business:

A Capabilities Statement should contain particular information
and be organized in a certain way
for use in the government sector. 

For instance, a Capabilities Statement should always identify the company’s CAGE code. The reason for this is that a company has a CAGE code only if it’s registered in the System for Award Management (SAM), the federal government’s vendor database. Showing your CAGE code is important because that way contracting officials know you are oriented to the government sector (if you weren’t, you wouldn’t know you have to register in SAM) and are properly registered (federal agencies can’t do business with you unless you’re listed in SAM). Prime contractors pursuing government contract work like to see their subcontractors and suppliers registered in SAM, too.

Identifying your PSC/FSC and NAICS codes is important because that means you know what they are and their significance. (There are such codes for every product and service, and government agencies specify their contract opportunities using these codes.)

Similarly, if you are marketing to state and local governments, you should show your NIGP codes in your Capabilities Statement, because state and local governments use NIGP codes (instead of PSC/FSC or NAICS codes).

Providing point-of-contact information for the references you list is important in case a government official wants to make a call or send an email to one of them. Each reference listing should also describe the type of work you performed or the products you delivered for that individual or company.

Over a period of time, you’ll want to develop several different versions of your Capabilities Statement, each tailored to a particular government sector audience. This is just like tailoring a personal resume when applying for a particular job. You want your past work descriptions to match-up with the contracting needs of the agency to which you are marketing. Small Business Specialists within government agencies use this information to decide whether to refer you to contracting offices, end-users, and prime contractors. Contracting officials use this information to make initial determinations about whether you appear to have the wherewithal to perform.

In addition to a Capabilities Statement, you should also create a one-page briefing sheet on your firm. It, too, should be tailored to each audience or occasion. Briefing sheets can be very helpful as handouts when you are attending trade shows, expos, pre-bid conferences, or face-to-face meetings.
If you need a sample Capabilities Statement or more guidance on this subject, contact your local PTAC for help. Remember, too, that your PTAC offers classes and one-on-one counseling to provide detailed instruction on marketing your business to the government sector.


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.