Monthly Archives: May 2020


Don’t look now, but the last quarter of the federal fiscal year is just one month away.  While there will likely be the annual “race to the finish” in terms of available business, how you pursue and close opportunities has undeniably changed.  Here are three things to focus on now to make sure your business in shape for the sprint:  1.  Relationships Matter:  Now, more than ever, good relationships matter.  It’s difficult to develop new relationships virtually, especially when your customer is being pulled in multiple directions at once.  Whether the relationship belongs to you or a partner, success this year-end will hinge on making the most of established, available relationships.  Remember, too, that your relationships with other contractors are key.  Use all of your relationships to help stay focused, but also to look for opportunities with those your relationships know.  2.  Make It Easy To Buy From You:A customer that is working remotely, socially distancing, supporting critical missions quickly, participating in “regular” agency meetings, and balancing kids out of school for the summer has little time to initiate an open market buy.  That’s why this year is likely to see an increase in the use of existing IDIQ contracts like the GSA Schedule and similar contracts.  Also, small business set-aside use will almost certainly accelerate.  Whether it’s your Schedule, your size status, or your ability to accept a government purchase card, ease of access is key to closing the sale this year.  3.  Use Your Common Sense:  Unscrupulous companies and people have already contacted many contractors trying to use their contracts and relationships to “sell” products and other solutions that they either don’t have or are authorized to sell.  The lure of easy money can be very tempting, but remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it likely is.  You’ve built a reputation and relationships over time that have made you a successful company.  Don’t let that all evaporate by taking a shady deal from someone that vanishes as quickly as a Redskins fourth quarter lead.  Prepare now for the end of fiscal year and you can take that vacation just as everything opens back up.


What if they re-opened the office and nobody came?  While things may not yet be that extreme, it is becoming more and more obvious that widespread telework is here to stay.  With it comes the need for contractors to be able to master on-line teleconference and webinar platforms in order to market and sell effectively. Comments from two federal Chief Information Officers show that their workers are at least as productive when working at home vs. the office. Agriculture CIO Gary Washington was quoted in Federal Times recently saying, “We are preparing for a different kind of work environment. “We will see what that is, but we have proven that it is possible to support” telework on a larger scale.Contractor workforces will have to become similarly productive.  Being able to deliver the same message and sense of urgency in a virtual setting that has been delivered in person is essential.   Contractors should consider changing training and education plans now to incorporate “virtual selling”.  This not only means increased use of and expertise with collaboration tools, but ensuring that a contractor’s own workforce remains productive when teleworking.  It is way too premature to say that we will be in a virtual work world in perpetuity.  People still need to interact in physical spaces and some work cannot be done remotely.  Still, making sure that you can reach your federal customer wherever they are working is essential.  Contractors should be thinking about such approaches now as part of their strategic, and not just tactical, planning


Succeeding in the federal market is not about doubling business overnight.  Experienced contractors know that if a company grows that quickly they will inevitably make mistakes and have to give some of that money back.  Still, either your business or partners you work with may insist that their solution is just what the government always wanted (Jeff Bezos’ credit card number?) and it’s up to you to manage expectations.  Lesson number one:  It’s a big government and there has to be focus to any company’s business efforts.  Even large companies can’t be everywhere at once.  Lesson two:  There is risk inherent in selling to the government.  This is often difficult for small businesses and subcontractors to accept, but the phenomena isn’t just limited to those groups.  Risk has to be managed, no matter what your business size or level of federal experience.  It takes discipline and resources to manage it correctly.  Regardless of a company’s size and federal experience, growth has to be done in a sustainable manner.  That means ensuring that both your company and your partners have as much of a commitment to compliance as to driving new business.  Large business primes can be an important link in the chain by educating their partners not only on business development but on the importance of having good compliance systems in place.  At the same time, any business needs to be prepared for companies that promise to deliver huge amounts of new business in a short time.  It’s more tempting than you might think.  A phone call from a previous partner about an opportunity to sell masks when you’re a furniture company should make you think twice, no matter how “easy” the money seems.  Everyone wants to increase their business, but doing it in way that stays within the rules and protects your corporate reputation is essential – no matter what your business size.


The $3 trillion “relief” package expected voted on in the House Friday contains plenty of goodies for everyone.  Don’t expect it to ever see the light of day in its current form, however, as the measure has zero chance of being passed as is in the Senate.  Indeed, Senate leaders have expressed reluctance to pass any sort of additional spending bill related to coronavirus relief.  The most likely scenario, though, is that a new measure will pass, most likely before Memorial Day weekend, but that it will be more focused.  Expect more small business loans, aid to states and the District of Columbia, healthcare funding, and related appropriations.  While little of this money is directly targeted at large business contractors, there will still likely be provisions such contractors should note.  Enhanced telework requirements may mean that face-to-face discussions will be more difficult moving forward.  Hazard duty pay is also likely to be a part of the measure, though likely not for contractor personnel.  Money to stabilize small businesses, including those doing government business, will be an important feature.  That can be good news for larger companies that rely on small partners for certain federal work.  The largest impact of the relief bills will be felt in future years.  Someone is going to have pay for all of this “relief” in the form of increased payment on the federal debt.  That will likely reduce discretionary money available for contracting and other “business of government” operations for several years to come.  DOD, for one, is already preparing for such an eventuality.  Contractors should as well.