This is very much a personal decision, however, it’s important to know both sides of the fence. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s great that you’re doing your research because knowledge is power as a successful federal contractor.
First of all, it is FREE to register your company in the System for Award Management (SAM) to become eligible to receive a federal payment (grant or contract). Keep in mind, that is all you are doing is becoming eligible with a status of “Active”. Registering does NOT set you apart from anyone else.
Secondly, depending on your baseline understanding of how the information you enter into SAM is used and applied, it’s been said that they wish they would’ve paid. In our opinion, it’s not difficult to do once you’re educated and aware of how the information is used, applied and what it actually means to your business.
The time consumption comes when you’ve expired, locked out, have mismatching information in DUNS or with the IRS. Avoid these by not letting your registration lapse … EVER! So if you don’t have time to mess with the Federal Service Desk and their templates, being in this situation might prompt one to consider paying a 3rd party. Do your homework on who you are paying BEFORE you pay. Not hitting the “buy now” button will be much more accommodating than trying to get a refund after work has begun.
PRO TIP: Do not create your login.gov account with any email that you do not have access to, personally, as the owner of your company. We actually recommend that our clients create a shared email address (something like “firstname.lastname@example.org”, for example) and use that email for all government contracting-related correspondence and registrations. It’s a whole lot easier to change the password of an email account than to re-invent the wheel of your federal contracting strategy, even just months in. $12 for a domain is just a normal expense of chasing government contracts.