What is a Capabilities Statement?

A capabilities statement is a Government resume that showcases your company’s capabilities to agencies at the federal, state, county, city, and municipal levels



Capabilities Statement: Definition and Uses

In its simplest form, a capabilities statement is a promotional or marketing statement about your business and its capabilities and skills that advertises who you are and what you do. However, Capabilities Statements must be tailored to your audience: the government buyer or prime contractor.

Successful firms use their Capabilities Statement for a number of purposes:

  • Required in many government registration processes
  • A door-opener to new agencies
  • Proof of qualification
  • Proof of past performance
  • It will set your apart from your competitors

Capabilities Statement Format

A Capabilities Statement should be very brief (only 1 or 2 pages) and to the point. It is important that the document be visually interesting and have similar graphic elements to your company's brand and logo. Therefore, we recommend that Capabilities Statements are created in Word or Publisher using a template that reflects a firm's brand with its own logo, colors and graphic identity.

Creating an Effective Capabilities Statement

It is important to fit all critical information on one side of one page. The second side, if absolutely necessary, may contain additional supporting data important to the targeted agency such as case studies of past successful projects.

Tip: It is best to call the document a Capabilities Statement. This should be stated at the top of the document. This is a term known by government contracting decision-makers and indicates that you have knowledge of the contracting process.

  • A Capabilities Statement should also show a firm's logo and other branding elements for recognition and be free of long paragraphs, instead, using short sentences and bulleted lists for quick visual scanning.
  • A Capabilities Statement is preferably only one page, one side. Go to two sides only if absolutely necessary.
  • Save and distribute as a PDF, not a Word, PowerPoint or other format. Save the document with your company's name in the file name. Many federal agencies block Word and Publisher documents because they may harbor viruses, however, a PDF file is much safer, usually smaller and stays visually consistent when mailed.

Capabilities Statement Contents

The five key areas included in a successful Capabilities Statement are:

  1. Core competencies / capabilities
  2. Differentiators / including facilities and equipment
  3. Past performance
  4. Corporate data including industry codes
  5. Contact information

When composing a Capabilities Statement, use the following section labels: Core Competencies, Past Performance, and Differentiators. These are the key elements that government buyers are looking for so that they can make a speedy decision.

1. Core Competencies

These are short introduction statements relating the company's core competencies to the agency's specific needs followed by key-word heavy bullet points. This is NOT everything a firm is able to do, but the core expertise of a firm, specifically related to the agency this Capability Statement is written for, its mission and identified opportunities.

2. Differentiators

Doing business with the government is highly competitive. Contractors have the burden of dealing with this competitive market and rising above the other contractors. Many companies who are trying to increase sales to the government market do not have a clear value statement detailing what makes them different from their competitors. A succinct, clear statement that relates to the specific needs of the agency is what will help the procurement and purchasing staff, the program managers and end users understand why they should pick your firm over other competitors.

Sample Differentiator Questions:

  • How is your company best suited for the needs of this agency?
  • What is it about your services that make you stand out from the rest?
  • What is it about your people that give you the advantage over your competitors?
  • Why are your products better solutions than the others that are available?

If these benefits cannot be clearly communicated, it is impossible for a decision-maker to make a clear recommendation for your company over one of your competitors. Many companies fail to take this critical step. And they wonder why they are missing out on contracts.

3. Past Performance

Begin by listing past customers for whom your business has done similar work. Prioritize starting with related agency, to all federal to other government, to commercial contracts. If the past projects do not relate to the targeted agency's needs, do not list it.

Tip: Ideally, include specific contact information for immediate references. Include name, title, email and phone. Use this information when meeting with decision-makers. Leave this information off the Capabilities Statement when you are sending the PDF as an initial outreach effort or leaving as a handout at conferences.

4. Company Data

Include one or two short sentences with a company description detailing pertinent history. Include the size of your firm, your revenue, the number of employees you have, and the typical geographic area you serve.

Tip: Readers will visit your web site for additional information. Make sure your web site is constantly updated and government-focused.

List Specific Pertinent Codes

  • Socio-economic certifications: 8(a), HUB Zone, SDVOB, etc.
    NAICS (all) Do not include code descriptions, just use the numbers
  • CAGE Code
  • Accept Credit and Purchase Cards
  • GSA Schedule Contract Number(s)
  • Other federal contract vehicles
  • BPAs and other federal contract numbers
  • State Contract Numbers
  • Name (a specific person)
  • Address
  • Phone (main and cell)
  • Email (a personal email, not info@)

5. Contact Information

Show contact information, including web site and a specific person's name, email and phone number, on each side or page of the document.

If your firm has won any awards, received accolades or has notable accomplishments relating to that agency, list them only if you have space.

Using this information will help in creating a Powerful Capabilities Statement and open doors to contracting opportunities in the federal government. This document is the key to building relationship with important decision-makers in government contracting, providing them with a concise description of the goods and services your business can provide, and a consistent reminder of your firm. When properly written, a Capabilities Statement is the tool that sets your company head and shoulders above your competition.