Steps of Application

I’m not going to lie, this application sucks, it takes forever, the system is really buggy with terrible UI/UX and they cite to long passages of federal law that you have to go read to make heads of tails of what they are asking about.

But you can’t do federal contracting without this so let’s get it over with

Disclaimer:  We have done our best to translate the regulations into human english but if there are any questions you are unsure about (and if you are manufacturing or selling a physical product there may be a lot of these) look at the upper right of the screen and there is a little box that you can click on and it tries to explain the regulation sections for you) but if you are still unsure either contact a lawyer (we can make recommendations here) select the option that basically says that you will answer the question when you go after a contract that implicates the regulation.

Other resources:  You will get bombarded with emails asking if you want to pay someone to do this for you. I recommend against, its wasted money. If you do need help considering going to your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center. It is a free program paid for by the DOD that helps people with these sorts of questions. But please do as much as you can before going to them.


I’d tell you to watch a movie while you are doing this, but you need to be precise here so put on some soothing music and let’s do this…

Step 1: Head to the System for Award Management Website

Step 2: Create a SAM user account by clicking ‘Create a User Account’, then select ‘Create an Individual Account’

Note 1: SAM pulls info from your federal registration and your DUNS, so you may need to give 48 hours after filling those out for the information to get into the right systems.

Note 2:  This system is a stickler for accuracy. So make sure you write your name, address, etc exactly the same way every time. Don’t abbreviate the words “Street” in one system but not another. It will cause an error.


Step 3: After activating your account, you will be taken to the SAM dashboard. From there, select ‘Entity Registrations’ and then ‘Register New Entity’

Then, scroll to the bottom and select ‘Start Registration’.

Step 4: On the next page, select ‘Business or Organization’. Then select your reason for registering your business or organization.

Step 5: The system will return a list of sections you have to complete, complete them, review your answers, and hit submit.

Step 6:  Now lets start walking through the screens and core questions in the SAM application (due to the length of the SAM application we are only going to touch on screens where we have seen people get confused):

NOTE: Do NOT use the back arrows on your browser in SAM, it will screw everything up. Instead use the “previous screen” button at the bottom of the window!

IRS consent screen: MPIN:  This should be an easy step but people get fouled here all the time, on “Business Information” page of SAM you enter a password (your MPIN) then on the next screen you have to enter it.

The CAGE code:  On the CAGE screen you will be asked if you have a CAGE code, most of you will select NO, and when you complete the SAM registration the SAM system will submit you for a CAGE code and you will automatically receive it in at most a couple days. Easy!

Ownership:  The government wants to know if you are owned by real people (like you) or another company (entity). If another company owns or controls any amount of this company answer yes (you will then have to answer various questions about the nature of the owning company and the nature of control/ ownership). If humans own and control all the company select “NO”

Predecessor:  The government wants to know if this company was formed from the assets of another company, what counts for this can be complex so if this company has substantial ties to another company you may want to consult a lawyer. But if this is an honest-to-god new company then the answer is NO.

General Information:  The general information section is a bit long but all the questions are straight forward. Just enter the information about your corporate form, clearances, and any set-asides you are currently registered for.

If this is your first time you may qualify for a set-aside but haven’t registered for it yet, no worries, don’t select any now. Instead come back and check the relevant boxes once you’ve registered for your set-asides.

Financial information:  Grab your corporate checkbook and fill in the information they ask for. If you haven’t gotten a corporate bank account you can put in your personal financial information, but you MUST change it to your corporate account info before you win any contracts.

Executive Compensation:  As a new business the answer here is almost certainly NO. Basically if your company makes 80% or more of its revenue from federal contracts, AND the value of those federal contracts exceeds $25M then you will need to answer some questions about the disclosure of your executive compensation

Proceedings: If your company holds federal contracts, grants etc that are worth more than $10M AND your company has admitted/been found to have been in fault in a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding in the last five years then check YES and you will have to share information about the proceeding.

SAM search:  Do you want to show up in searches (suggest you check yes)


EDI information:  If you don’t know what this is click NO

Disaster Response:  Only click YES if you are considering physical response work for natural disasters (e.g. logistics, and reconstruction). If you are interested you will have to share information about your bonding level and which areas you can serve.



Most of the answers in this section are self explanatory.

TIN is the same as the EIN

The only exception is the EPA recovery question and this principally affects manufacturing and waste companies. If you do not plan to go after this kind of work I recommend saying you will respond if a specific offer to the government requires it.


This page sucks, but here is the crib sheet:

5) Labor surplus Area:  This is a department of labor program for manufacturing/production companies and if you want to see if you qualify go to: .

6) Common parent:  Is your company is owned/ controlled by another company with whom you will be filing a joint tax return then select Yes

7) Exclusion/ Principals disbarred:  Have any of the owners/key managers of the business gotten into major legal trouble that restricts their ability to bid on federal work. This is not a parking ticket or a divorce, this only happens when you are involved in felonies and fraudulent activity in previous federal work. If you aren’t sure talk to the lawyer that represented you in the legal matter

8) Criminal activity:  Like the above, have any of the owners/key managers or your company run afoul of one of the listed crimes in the last three years. Or do you owe the federal government over $3,500 in taxes

9) Under investigation:  Are any owners/key managers of the company currently indicted or charged with any of the crimes in 8)

10) Have you been terminated for cause from a federal contract in the last three years (self explanatory)

11-14) Joint ventures with set-aside companies: Unless you are currently in a joint venture with a set-aside company the answer to these is no

15) Data rights: If you are registering for the first time just say you will provide an answer with a specific bid, BUT if you are selling software to the government you will want to consult a government contracting lawyer to ensure you understand who owns the software and data that you sell them.

The government’s IP ownership terminology can seem backwards to a lot of people and if you get this wrong you may end of selling your software to the WHOLE government when you thought you were just selling it to one agency. Bottom line you don’t want to guess on this one in a real contract.


This page is quick, and largely pre-populated for you

17) Small business qualification:  Each NAICS code determines whether you are large or small in a different way, this chart just makes sure you know if you qualify as small in each of your NAICS.

19) Child labor:  If you are selling products to the government you need to make sure none of the components come from countries on this LIST. If your product was produced in one of those countries you have to assert that you have made efforts to ensure child labor was not used. This is a pretty complex area so if you are selling products that were produced overseas and you have any doubts about whether components of it were produced in a listed country we recommend talking to a lawyer

20/22/23) Equal opportunity/affirmative action: Most large federal contracts require that the winner hire in accordance with equal opportunity guidelines. So if you’ve held previous contracts (prime or sub) your answer will probably be yes, and you will have to have sent in the mandatory reports. But if you are registering a new entity/one that has never won federal work the answer is NO.

24) Only applies if you maintain/calibrate etc IT/medical/scientific equipment


Back to the suck

25) Service Contract Labor Standards:  If you provide the below services then answer YES, otherwise recommend you say you will provide info with specific offers. If you answer YES you will have to answer other questions about how you provide services to the government compared to how you provide those same services to commercial clients.

(i) Automobile or other vehicle (e.g., aircraft) maintenance services (other than contracts or subcontracts to operate a Government motor pool or similar facility).

(ii) Financial services involving the issuance and servicing of cards (including credit cards, debit cards, purchase cards, smart cards, and similar card services).

(iii) Hotel/motel services for conferences, including lodging and/or meals, that are part of the contract or subcontract for the conference (which must not include ongoing contracts for lodging on an as needed or continuing basis).

(iv) Maintenance, calibration, repair, and/or installation (where the installation is not subject to the Construction Wage Rate Requirements statute, as provided in 29 CFR 4.116(c)(2)) services for all types of equipment where the services are obtained from the manufacturer or supplier of the equipment under a contract awarded on a sole source basis.

(v) Transportation by common carrier of persons by air, motor vehicle, rail, or marine vessel on regularly scheduled routes or via standard commercial services (not including charter services).

(vi) Real estate services, including real property appraisal services, related to housing Federal agencies or disposing of real property owned by the Government.

(vii) Relocation services, including services of real estate brokers and appraisers to assist Federal employees or military personnel in buying and selling homes (which shall not include actual moving or storage of household goods and related services).

27/28) Inverted corporation:  You will know if you are one, but basically it means you have a foreign ownership structure used to avoid taxes. If a foreign company has any ownership of your company, or if your company may pay foreign taxes I recommend you consult a lawyer


36) Pricing that is affected by foreign activity:  You can’t pad your prices to account for changes in foreign labor/material rates. If your work is done in the US by people in the US the answer is NO

Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS): At the end of your SAM application you will be asked if you want to fill out your DSBS profile. I highly recommend you do. You have all the materials from our marketing session so copy and paste them in. Its low probability that anyone is going to find you on it, but it does happen and there is no down side.

Now review and add your points of contact and you are DONE!

You should get your SAM number immediately and your CAGE code will be sent shortly!

CONGRATULATIONS!! From an administrative perspective you are now a fully fledged government contractor! I hope this wasn’t too painful, and remember that when you do your annual update your answers may differ depending on whether you’ve won government work or begun manufacturing or selling products that have supply chains outside the country