The Week Ahead - November 18, 2013

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NEGATIVE PROCUREMENT HEADLINES ARE MORE THAN A DISTRACTION

People reading the front page of the November 13th edition of The Washington Post could be forgiven for thinking they’d picked up the Federal Times by mistake. No fewer than three front page stories covered some aspect of government contracting. Of course, no good news contracting story ever makes the Post, so the stories all focused on possible violations – this time of size standard representations and 2 bribery cases. Companies focused on day-to-day federal business development may view these stories, and in the case of one Post story it’s a multiple day series, as a distraction. They’re only half right. Today’s distractions means that the weather isn’t the only thing getting colder in Washington. The federal business climate will be chilled as well. Most immediately, this means that small businesses can expect to have their size status and affiliations with other companies come under increased scrutiny. In addition, routine business development calls may be met with greater scrutiny, especially in the Navy (the branch involved with the two bribery incidents), or cancelled entirely. It remains to be seen whether the latest string of problems will lead to new laws or regulations. Undeniably, though, the sins of the few will be felt by the many who are just trying to make a living in the federal market.

 

WHEN THE PRESIDENT DISCUSSES FEDERAL IT PROCUREMENT, WE HAVE A PROBLEM

President Obama singled out an “outdated and cumbersome” IT procurement process during his November 14th news conference discussing possible band aids for problems surrounding the roll out of the Affordable Healthcare Act. “The federal government does a lot of things really well but one of the things it does not do well is information technology procurement,” said the President. Those of us in the federal IT community like to think we’re pretty special, but when our market rises to the level where the President speaks about it nationally, there’s a problem. While the bi-partisan Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) has strong momentum in the House of Representatives, it is unclear if it would fix all of the things that may need help. Similarly, FITARA may have been overcome by recent events and, with more legislators looking at acquisition, more legislative proposals are a virtual certainty. It is very much worth noting that the last time federal acquisition rules were significantly re-written, it was industry that led the way. Countless hearings featuring the heads of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and other leading government contractors stoked Congressional action and common sense reform. It’s been about 18 years since the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act and the Clinger-Cohen Act. Much of the improvements have been undone as contractors have been looked upon with the evil eye. If any real reform is to come of this opportunity, however, it will have to be those same contractors that lead the way. We know what’s broken and how it needs to be fixed. Shame on us if we sit back and let others set our playing field for us.

 

GSA TRAINING OFFERS MORE THAN JUST THE CURRICULUM

The General Services Administration continues to offer all kinds of training classes for both government customers and contractors. One November 20th, alone, GSA has two courses that should be of interest to contractors. One is on-line training on proper use of Blanket Purchase Agreements and Contractor Teaming Agreements. With recent publicity around the latter, understanding what GSA believes to be proper use of these tools can be very helpful. The other course is reverse auction training for contractor. Though controversial, reverse auctions are a fact of life. GSA’s training provides more than just “how to” information. It lets you know how GSA views important contract use matters and, very likely, how they are training your potential customer. Whether or not you agree with every point made in the training, you can’t prepare an effective alternative to present to a federal customer without knowing what GSA is saying. Coming on December 5th is GSA’s Fall Industry-Government Council meeting. Absent the GSA Expo, these Council meetings could offer some good opportunities to meet with and discuss common concerns with your GSA business partners. See the full calendar of training Click Here

 

NINEIT’S 10:00 PM, DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DEALERS ARE DOING?TY DAYS LATER, HAS THE DUST SETTLED?

Participating dealers are an asset that many GSA Schedule contract holders can’t live without. Dealers work in the same communities as their federal customers, know the lingo, and often specialize in servicing government accounts. They can also, however, be a major headache to manage. Quotation errors, order fulfillment, installation, following-up after the sale are all things that may not routinely get done and can cost your firm money now and additional business later. Fortunately, Allen Federal offers dealer training. We can come to your site, or put together a specialized webinar to educate your dealers – and you – on the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of federal business. You want your dealers to be at least as well educated on government ins and outs as the customers they’re working with and you want them to make – not cost – you money. Allen Federal dealer training is designed to do all of that and more. To find out what we can do for you contact us at info@allenfederal.com or 703-999-6046.