Contractors eying potential opportunities in a new round of COVID-19 relief funding may want to focus elsewhere.  House and Senate negotiators are reportedly wide apart on the specifics of any “Phase IV” relief package. A self-imposed deadline of July 31st is rapidly approaching.  What that means for the long-term is unclear as self-set deadlines can always be extended.  In the interim, however, some benefits and money will expire without a short-term extension, something that even itself seems to be doubtful. The shape of any long-term deal is also uncertain.  Money for unrelated projects, such as the building of a new FBI Headquarters, has drawn sharp disapproval from Senate Republicans, making the passage of anything not directly tied to COVID-19 problematic.  Even there, however, discussions are at an impasse.  It is also worth remembering that House leaders have previously said that there will not be additional funds for defense contractors to pay for previously-authorized CARE Act expenses.Contractors should instead focus on already-identified money and opportunities in their pipelines.  Congress may very well decide to pass some sort of relief measure at the last second (either before the August recess or closer to the Fall elections), but that should not be a distraction from a company’s core business, especially during the end of the year.  Appropriations will also be late this year, so prepare to start FY’21 under a Continuing Resolution until sometime after the November election.


Companies selling to the Department of Defense have been gearing up to become Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) approved.  Even GSA is eying the inclusion of CMMC requirements for some of its contracts as DOD is often their largest user.  Now, however, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has come out with new requirements ( that will eventually be incorporated into certain CMMC levels.  How that will impact companies among the first to be certified under the current guidance is unknown.  Guidance from DOD, especially for companies that provide cloud services, is also changing.  Don’t even start with the cybersecurity requirements that Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) procurements are and are not exempt from.  It’s enough to make a contractor seek an easier career like commercial fishing.  What is clear is that FAR clause 52.204-21 on Federal Contract Information (FCI) is increasingly being incorporated into a wide range of government contracts, including those for commercial items. Make sure your company can comply with the 15 basic NIST security requirements referenced in the clause. Not all cyber guidance has found its way to the FAR yet, though.  DOD contractors need to increasingly examine DFAR clauses to ensure they understand the cybersecurity and cloud standards required of them and those standards that need to be passed down to subcontractors.  There are many key terms to know, but two of the most frequent are Covered Defense Information (CDI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).  CUI is actually included in the definition of CDI, so if your company meets standards on how such information needs to be handled, it likely meets the other.  While COTS providers are, in fact, exempt from CMMC and some other requirements, that differentiation may be lost on DOD buyers and prime contractors.  Such companies will need to be prepared to answer why they feel they are exempt from certain compliance standards, or become compliant.  The situation is changing, but ensuring that your company follows the changes and stays compliant with applicable rules is critical to doing continued government business


Have you ever seen the movies where the car breaks through the first barrier, then the second and third, keeps ploughing down a road it obviously shouldn’t be on and then sails off the unfinished bridge and into a lake?  Think you would never do that?  Think again.  This is exactly the type of behavior many contractors engage in when it comes to ensuring proper contract compliance.    We understand that companies are in business to do business, but part of conducting that business is making sure all contractual requirements are fulfilled.  Just like the out of control car, contractors may get multiple warnings to stop, slow down, turn around or otherwise get back on the right path.  Some get the message by the second or third sign.  That’s late, but usually not too late to prevent truly bad outcomes that disrupt the business you’re trying to pursue.  Some companies believe that their car could make the jump over the missing bridge span – akin to reaching safety without having to change practices.  Many, though, end up in the lake.  Unfortunately, that ruins not just your business but the livelihoods of those who work at the company.  A damaged business also upsets investors who provided money with the expectation that the company would be run properly.  While stopping your car short of the lake may still result in a ticket and a small repair bill, that’s certainly preferable to having the entire car wrecked and paying to get it out of the water.  Effective contract compliance systems are truly a “pennies on the dollar’ investment that help your business stay on the open road.


Not every government contract issue is a months-long project.  Sometimes you just need a sanity check or have a question that can be answered in five minutes.  Allen Federal can help.  We offer “Check-In” service at reasonable rates for people who need answers and insights on contract terms, new federal developments, or just sanity checks to ensure their positions are defensible.  We’ve answered hundreds of questions for a wide variety of companies.  If you’re just not sure what a key term or requirement means, we can help.  Contact us today at


Publicly available data federal contract spending data shows that there are thousands of professional service and technology services companies in government contracting, but that most business is conducted by a much smaller sub-set.  A quick look at the numbers comes up with a reasonable estimate of over 26,000 professional services contractors.  Less than 900, though, account for 80% of obligated dollars.  In IT services the numbers are 11,250 and 445, respectively. The most successful companies each manage multiple contracts.  The information shows what experienced contractors have long-known: Relationships and experience matter in federal contracting. Federal buyers like to have trust in their suppliers and minimize risk.  Innovation cannot be totally discounted but, as we have said before, “innovation” means something different in most of the federal market than it does in its commercial counterpart.  It is usually best understood as being innovative in comparison to something a federal agency, itself, hasn’t tried yet.  The take-away for companies that would like to crack into the top 80% is not to necessarily have a better mouse-trap.  Rather, make sure your brand is recognizable in the market.  Attend even virtual contractor-related gatherings.  Partner with companies that have an established market presence.  Get known and get trusted.  While there are newer market entries that succeed by promoting their solutions, that’s a steep hill and one that requires a federal customer to like it so much that they’re willing to take a chance on something no other agency has yet done.  It may take a bit longer to develop relationships and a reputation, but the road is not as steep and can actually get smoother over time for those that dedicate the necessary resources.