In the government marketplace, knowing who’s who can be the key to unlocking opportunities while saving time and energy. Each role within the federal government’s procurement process serves a unique purpose, and understanding who these individuals are and their value to small businesses is crucial. In this blog, we will delve into the Federal humans you need to know in Government Contracting and why they matter to your small business.

SPOILER ALERT: The first person you need to know is NOT the CO/KO.

Small Business Liaison Officer (SBLO)

The Small Business Liaison Officer (SBLO) is a small business’s best friend within the government agency. Their primary responsibility is to oversee the subcontracting program for the contractor. SBLOs monitor company goals, ensure compliance with regulations, and review subcontractor certifications. They act as advocates for small businesses, directing traffic and often holding the ear of key stakeholders such as Contracting Officers (COs), Contracting Officer Representatives (CORs), and Project Managers.

Their involvement in market research and outreach efforts makes them indispensable allies for small businesses looking to navigate the complexities of government contracting.

Small Business Specialists

Small Business Specialists (SBS) operate at the subagency level and individual procurement offices, offering valuable insights into the procurement process. Like SBLOs, they advocate for small businesses, ensuring compliance with the Small Business Act and providing guidance on acquisition plans. The SBS collaborates with Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) and Contracting Officer Representatives (CORs) to streamline small business participation, making them vital contacts for small businesses aiming to thrive in the government contracting arena.

The SBS has a vested interest in helping its agency reach its small business goals and is in the know when it comes to answering questions related to specific agency buying patterns.

Contracting Officer (CO/KO)

Contracting Officers (COs) hold the authority to bind the Federal Government to contracts, and they are the sole individuals authorized to spend taxpayer money. While reaching out to a CO/KO may not be common, it’s essential when you have specific matters to discuss, such as inquiries related to acquisition forecasts or Requests for Information (RFIs). COs are not the best recipients of marketing emails, but when you need their expertise, they are indispensable for advancing your government contracting goals.

I always recommend that my clients reach out to a CO/KO when they have something specific to discuss, especially as it relates to requirements.

Contract Specialist (CS)

Contract Specialists (CS) play a pivotal role in assisting COs during the pre-award and post-award phases. They provide support in small business research, industry outreach, and market research tasks. In the post-award phase, CSs continue to assist with monitoring and documentation, responding to inquiries on behalf of the CO. Collaborating with Small Business Specialists, CSs contribute to the success of small businesses in government contracting.

The CS may wear multiple hats, acting also as the SBLO or the SBS.

Contracting Officer Representative (COR)

Contracting Officer Representatives (CORs) are critical in ensuring contractors meet their contractual commitments. They help develop and manage contracts, facilitate requirements development, and assist with small business considerations. CORs can be valuable advocates if they champion your offering and contribute to contract performance that aligns with mission needs.

If you win a contract, this is likely going to be your primary POC. It’s important to note however that they do not have authority to make changes to your contract without the COs approval.

Acquisition Program Manager (APM/PM)

Acquisition Program Managers (APMs/PMs) are responsible for achieving program objectives and are highly technical. While they may not be receptive to sales pitches or small business set-asides, they can provide valuable insights when approached strategically. Focusing on addressing their pain points and collaborating on market research can yield essential information for pitching your agency.

If you can identify their pain points, you will give yourself an edge in the marketplace.

Procurement Center Representative (PCR)

Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) act as liaisons between agency contracting personnel and small businesses. They enhance small business contracting opportunities, identify potential offerors, and review acquisition packages to ensure compliance with small business participation requirements. PCRs play a crucial role in supporting small businesses in the government contracting landscape.

OSDBU Director

The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) Director ensures agency compliance with the Small Business Act. They collaborate with PCRs to facilitate small business participation, identify contract consolidation opportunities, and assess and report on small business participation in agency acquisitions. OSDBU Directors are key figures in promoting small business inclusion in government contracting.


Understanding the roles and value of these Federal individuals in government contracting is essential for small businesses. Each person, from SBLOs to OSDBU Directors, plays a unique role in the procurement process, and knowing when and how to engage with them can significantly benefit your small business in achieving success in the world of government contracting.

Additionally, knowing their roles and pain points will allow you to ask more intelligent questions based on what is and isn’t in their control. Most, if not all, of the humans mentioned in this blog, have provided me or my clients warm introductions to other valuable stakeholders we needed to know to increase your win rate.