The newly-appointed DHS Chief Information Officer suddenly resigned under less-than-clear circumstances recently. At about the same time, the Administration re-assigned two well-regarded career CIO’s at the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture. Remaining CIO’s, especially those that worked closely with the previous administration, can be forgiven if they’re looking over their shoulder to see if they’re next. This is a potentially large distraction at a time of year when distractions can be particularly harmful. Large technology projects that have been waiting all year were supposed to now move to inception by the end of the fiscal year. Internal distractions, however, could delay some of these plans, or scrap them completely if their business case is deemed to have been “too close” to the directives of the previous administration and counter to what the new team views as being a priority. Contractors need to anticipate bumps in the road and have answers to questions showing why a particular project is essential, regardless of who’s ultimately in charge. Make sure you’re communicating with your CIO contacts now so that any potential hiccups can be addressed and you actually get to close business you thought would be yours.
Did you know that other federal contractors can buy from your Schedule contract? Do you know how this is supposed to be done to ensure that your company remains compliant? Allen Federal has recently worked with several companies who thought Part 51 was that extra puzzle piece they really didn’t need. They were wrong. Failure to follow FAR Part 51 procedures can catch your company in an audit or whistleblower case. If you – or your sales team – doesn’t know what it means, call Allen Federal today. We’re happy to train your team on this important aspect of federal contract compliance. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With less than two months remaining in the fiscal year your company’s business activity should be in the fast lane. Here are three things to focus on now that we’re nearing the finish line:
1. How Can Your Customer Get To You Quickly? Your customer has a lot to do and not much time to get it done. How easy can you make it to do business with your company? Do you have a one-page guide on how to buy from the GSA Schedules program or other IDIQ contract? Don’t assume your customer knows how easy this can be. Also, do you or a team member have a small business designation? Depending on the type of designation and dollars in play, this could be a great avenue to quickly complete business. Do you have extended hours? Feds may be putting in OT to get their work done, make sure you’re there to answer the phone.
2. Adopt a David Letterman Approach. This is a great time of year to maintain your own “top 10” list of prospective buyers. Yes, your pipeline is likely larger than this, but what are your top 10 best prospects? Who is working on them? When was the last time they were in contact with the buyer? By when do you intend to close this business?
3. Work With Customers To Start Projects This FY. As with last year, FY’18 will start under a Continuing Resolution that could last for months. Getting a project started now will enable you and the customer to keep going under a CR, rather than have to wait for Congress for formal appropriations. Even a small start will enable a continuance. This year’s fiscal year end promises to be bigger and more active than recent history. Be prepared.
The good news for contractors trying to make a living under the Trump Administration is that defense and homeland security spending are poised to increase. That can create opportunities for companies selling both solutions and products. The challenges are that the Administration has made clear its intent to deep-six programs and contracts that it believes don’t work, or merely duplicate existing functions. There is also a continued element of uncertainty in the market as there is a scarcity of senior political appointees who typically carry out the Administration’s policies. It is critically important that contractors understand how this Administration is changing the ways agencies function. Your favorite contract method or foreign aid program could be cancelled. That civilian agency support contract you’ve had for years could be in jeopardy. Worse, there may be few people you can speak to in the agency that can tell you what’s going on. Successful companies are those that have the capability to see the forest for the trees. A straight tactical approach to federal business may not work well in this environment. Step back. Read industry trade publications. Attend conferences. Assume change and be prepared ahead of time. The FY’18 market will have opportunities, but the “where” and “how” will be different.
The Department of Defense announced last week the creation of the Undersecretary for Research and Engineering to help speed the development of cutting edge technologies and embrace an element of risk so that caution doesn’t hold back the creation of promising new solutions. “In order to deliver new and needed capability to the warfighter, USD(R&E) will take risks while pushing the technology ‘envelope,’ testing and experimenting and being willing and allowed to fail when appropriate,” a Pentagon report stated. At the same time, the agency is creating a new Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment. This person’s role will be to encourage the DOD acquisition community to match the boldness of the research side by using streamlined acquisition methods to get the new technology into the hands of warfighters more quickly. The new positions are the expected outcome of the planned break-up of the current office of Acquisition Technology and Logistics. The timing and urgency of the changes indicate that DOD leaders want to move out quickly. This is potentially great news for contractors who work with DOD on the development of new technologies.