Last November, American Express OPEN® launched what could be a valuable resource for small firms seeking government contracts: Victory in ProcurementSM (VIP) for Small Business. The core of VIP is an online information exchange designed to guide business owners through the intricacies of the government contracting process from listing with Central Contractor Registration (CCR) to generating repeat business with the federal government. The program also will help owners connect with procurement officials, form relationships with other aspiring contractors, and get coaching and mentoring assistance. American Express OPEN is the credit card company’s small-business support group. For VIP, it has created Teaming USA, an online exchange to facilitate partnering with other firms seeking government work. Also involved are Business Matchmaking, a corporation-funded procurement initiative; SCORE, a business counseling organization; and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a policy group focusing on federal contract set-asides for women-owned businesses. VIP’s general objective is to give small businesses a better handle on what it takes to capture their share of the 23% of federal contracting dollars reserved for small firms. SCORE says that despite this opportunity, 40% of business owners do not have any knowledge of how to apply for federal contracts. What’s more, says SCORE, 40% are not sure their product or service is purchased by the federal government, A stated goal of the VIP program is to help business owners secure $1 billion in government contract and sub-contract commitments. It also aims to make 100,000 businesses owners “contract-ready” by getting them to register on the CCR or by helping them to obtain the proper certifications. The program’s primer is OPEN BOOK: Government Contracting, a step-by-step guide for small business owners interested in doing business with the government. It can be downloaded here.