General guidelines for filling our your first sub-contract

Once you have an informal agreement with the program manager (PM) about coming on as a 1099, they will get in touch with their company’s sub-contract administrator who is going to send you a bunch of paperwork. They will batch all the paperwork into a “Request for Proposal” or (RFP) and then issue some final sub-contract paperwork that you’ll need to sign.

When I first heard that term, I freaked out because I thought I had to write a project plan or describe why I was best for the job. It turns out that is not the case at all, it is simply administrative paperwork.

Having done about five or six of these now, I can tell you that it’s a tedious process but not overly onerous. After you do your first one you’ll feel much more comfortable with future sub-contracts.

My book has more detail about filling out the paperwork, but here are some general guidelines that will help you figure it out when it gets confusing:

  1. The paperwork looks more intimidating than it is. It is designed for much larger companies and most of the material in it won’t apply to you. I’ve made liberal use of the “N/A” option
  2. If you ever have any questions about the subcontract, ask the sub-contract administrator. In my experience they are usually pretty friendly and happy to answer questions. You can say something like, “I am the least competent paperwork guy in the word so I’m about to ruin your day! Could you explain X to me?”
  3. There are a few parts of the sub-contract that you might need to negotiate, but otherwise you can safely accept 95% of the terms set out in the sub-contract. You don’t need a lawyer.

I hate paperwork, but it’s just one of the small annoyances you have to suffer through in order to reap the benefits of the 1099 life.


If you have questions feel free to reach out to me directly at I can also add you to my informal mailing list in case I have updates or news or whatever.


This article is an excerpt from Chapter 10 (How to complete the paperwork for your first 1099 sub-contract) of my book.

You can read more about it here:

Going 1099: How to become a solo federal sub-contractor and gain control of your working life, earn more money and unlock more free time

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published