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How do I start doing business with the state of California?

One of the biggest sources of growth and labor in California is the government, which typically awards billions of dollars every year to private contractors and small businesses that provide the know-how and expertise for big government initiatives. Government contracts run the gamut from construction labor to technical guidance, so doing work with the state can be big business for even small construction companies. Each year the state contracts for and purchases about $10 billion worth of goods and services, so construction company owners who want to throw their hat in the ring may be well compensated for their efforts.

California state government projects are required to be handled through the public bidding process. Basically this means that they must advertise the project or endeavor and allow any certified and registered business to put out a "bid" to handle the project. This competitive process ensures that the state is getting a fair and reasonable price, and it also ensures that every business that provides services of that kind will have the opportunity to compete for the project.

Public bidding isn't a perfect system, however. While it would be easiest to enforce the rule that the lowest bidder always wins, the reality is far more complex. California also juggles numerous public policy concerns, which means granting preferences to veterans, people with disabilities and other protected citizens. In some cases, the state may also consider other factors, such as which bidder's proposal is the most environmentally conscious or "green". The state makes a decision based on a number of various factors and regulations and thus sometimes makes controversial decisions.

California contractors who have questions about working through the bid process or who want to appeal or protest a bid for work on a state contract should consult with an attorney with extensive construction law experience.

Source: DGS, "Procurement Division - Services" accessed Jan. 18, 2015

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