SAM Serves as Key Step in Selling to Government

Written by
Mary Zimmerman

The government must keep going, in good times and in bad.

Many small businesses that are involved in government contracting have learned that this stability means federal, state, and local government agencies can be a tremendous and steady source of income. And it’s a market that exists for more than just major-league defense contractors. Small business owners are sometimes astonished when they realize they are capable of supplying a product or service that the government needs.

To capitalize on potential government opportunities, Iowa businesses should register first at local agency websites. But they also should consider registering with the federal System for Award Management, or SAM, which is a government-run database that serves as a central registration site and is utilized by every federal agency, both civilian and military. The registration is free, and it’s easy.

Having the following information prior to registration will speed the process:

To get started, access the SAM website ( and click on “Create A User Account.”

It can take anywhere from one to three hours to complete the registration. When approved, you will be assigned your own CAGE (Commercial and Government Entity) code, which provides a standardized method of identifying a given legal entity at a specific location.

Your password will need to be renewed every six months and your SAM registration every twelve.

This is one of the key steps to get started in government contracting. If it all sounds intimidating, reach out to one of the government contracting specialists with CIRAS’ Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). We welcome the opportunity to guide your business through the registration process, because we pride ourselves on being the best resource available to help you compete successfully in the government marketplace.

For more information, contact Mary Zimmerman at or 515-450-1278.


 A version of this article was published in the Spring 2017 edition of CIRAS News. To read more of that edition or others, please explore elsewhere on our website.

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