How Do I Find State Projects/ Bids?

Hello, we have been in business about 14 years but never really got involved in state type jobs...

I see some companies who are always bidding on these types of jobs.

Anyone know how how to find out when these jobs are open for bid?


There are subscription services like FindRFP that will send you emails listing projects once they hit the street. The projects are filtered by your skillsets, ie: video surveillance, access control, etc.

The quality of the list varies, because sometimes the purchasing party does not classify the project properly (can't tell you how many routine septic camera inspection jobs are out there... but a bunch!) but usually services like this are more efficient/cheaper than hitting two dozen different websites and manually searching for projects.

There are three primary ways to learn about "public works" projects for city, state and county agencies.

The first way is to directly contact each agency and ask to be put on their "bidders list". Many agencies allow you to do this via an online form on their procurement website. You provide your company name and contact information, and specify the types of projects that you are interested in. The agency then sends you an email when an appropriate type of opportunity becomes available.

The second way is to subscribe to the business newspaper(s) in your region that serve as the "publication of record" for public works projects. These papers are generally targeted toward the design, construction and legal communities and contain legal notices as well as RFPs (requests-for-proposals) and other notices about public projects coming up for bid.

The third way is to subscribe to a lead generation service such as Dodge. These services allow you to specify a geographical region and the specify types of projects that you want to bid on. The service then automatically forwards you leads as they become available. These services are expensive, but save you a lot of time and effort, particularly if you are trying to cover a multi-state area. These services typically also provide information on federal government projects, which can be time consuming to track down otherwise.

Many agencies let you sign up with their purchasing portal, describe what you are looking for and then send you notices. Be prepared to do job walks with the guys who do sewer camera inspections. There are several "pay for" sites.

if you are a specialty contractor (CCTV/Access) you will want to do a couple of job walks and meet some of the General and Electrical prime contractors as they will be your customer on larger projects as they usually involve multiple trades.

One cautionary tale if you are new to public bid work....check with you state tax agency about the requirements for paying tax on products sold to state and federal projects that state "do not list tax, we are exempt" because in California as an example.....you still pay the Franchise Tax Board for that equipment.

I have bad luck with State jobs. In most cases, the specs are old and outdated, and usually require an extremely low margin. There is no loyalty here either, so giving it away with thoughts of future business is a dream. On design builds, they looks usually at 60/20/20 price/experience/design. I always kill everyone on the last 2. but lose to the low cost junky designs, Also, up to half of the RFPs are canceled and underfunded.

Stick to the local towns and cities. They tend to have greater loyalty if you create a good relationship. Future projects will not go to bid (three prices and lowest cost not determining factor).

I can assure you that chances are that you will not make money with a state contract. I do use FindRFP which is handy.

This article on IPVM will have additional info that may be needed...

Government Contracts