Doing Business with NSF


The U.S. National Science Foundation's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is an advocate for small businesses and provides a variety of resources for vendors to use in their search for agency contracts. The checklist below provides steps that small businesses should follow to successfully pursue NSF prime and subcontracting contracting opportunities.

Know the Federal Supply Class code, Product Service Code, and North American Industry Classification System code for your product or service. Many government product and service listings and future procurements are identified by their FSC, PSC, or NAICS codes. is an electronic gateway of procurement information for and about small businesses. It is a search engine for contracting officers, a marketing tool for small firms, and a database for procurement opportunities and important information.

After you register your entity in, you will be assigned a CAGE code. A CAGE code is used to identify contractors doing business with the federal government, NATO member nations, and other foreign governments. The code may be used for a facility clearance, a pre-award survey, automated bidders lists, identification of debarred bidders, fast pay processes, or other uses.

When you register on, you can fill out your small business profile, which gets added to the Dynamic Small Business Search. DSBS is another tool contracting officers use to identify potential small-business contractors for upcoming contracting opportunities. Small businesses can also use DSBS to identify other small businesses for teaming and joint venturing.

Visit Small Business Administration's website to explore a variety of small-business resources and learn about opportunities for face-to-face small-business support in your area. Here are a few helpful resources:

The NSF acquisition forecast provides insight into the future procurement needs of the agency.

The General Service Administration Schedule, also known as Federal Supply Schedule and Multiple Award Schedule, is a long-term governmentwide contract with commercial companies that provide the federal government with access to millions of commercial products and services.

Monitor opportunitiesGSA eBuyNASA's Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement, and any other governmentwide acquisition contracts for NSF solicitations.

NSF has an $8 billion budget and 93% of these funds are allocated to grants and awards to support research projects, facilities, and STEM education. This leaves approximately $500 million for NSF contracting opportunities, which is used for the following services and products:

  • Antarctic and Arctic support – 70%
  • Information and resource management support services and products – 14%
  • Science and engineering statistical support services – 7%
  • Other professional services – 6%
  • Human resources support – 2%
  • Financial management support – 1%

NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations, and other research organizations throughout the United States. The agency accounts for about one-fourth of federal support to academic institutions for basic research. NSF receives approximately 40,000 proposals each year for research, education, and training projects. In addition, the agency receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships.

NSF operates no laboratories itself but does support national research centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels, and Antarctic research stations. The agency also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, U.S. participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

NSF funding opportunities can be found using the funding search tool. Additional opportunities for grants can be found on

Regardless of your product or service, don't neglect a very large secondary market: subcontracting opportunities with prime contractors. The Small Business Administration provides information on subcontracting for small business, which includes an SBA subcontracting assistance directory.

The SBA Subcontracting Network or SubNet is a valuable source for obtaining information on subcontracting opportunities. Solicitations or notices are posted not only by prime contractors, but by other government, commercial and educational entities.

The General Services Administration publishes a subcontracting directory for small businesses that are looking for subcontracting opportunities with prime contractors. The directory lists large-business prime contractors that are required to establish plans and goals for subcontracting with small businesses.