Monthly Archives: July 2020


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.


GSA professional services officials have a lot to say when it comes to how federal customers use their two main contract tools:  The OASIS GWAC and Professional Services Schedule. The information and insights are useful even for experienced contractors.   This part of GSA has embarked on a substantial project to look at potential markets, customer agency pipelines, and certain types of demographic information on customers.  All of this would have been unheard of just a few years back.  The information is intended to make it easier for GSA to serve its customers, but also helps contractors who know how read through the information.  Here are just some of the take-aways companies wanting to make better use of their GSA Professional Services Schedule may want to consider:

  • Focus on top user agencies such as HHS, Army, Air Force and DHS
  • Seek to team or partner with small firms since 44% of all obligated dollars go to small businesses
  • Maintain/develop good relationships with GSA Assisted Acquisition Service organizations since many customer agencies make use of these services
  • Keep track of new agencies GSA is developing stronger relationships with, such as NASA

GSA is also working on a follow-on to OASIS and will seek to engage industry early and often.  Though few details are available now, agency leaders are taking a wide look at what a new services contract could look like.

In the meantime, the agency has an on-line Awards Exploration Tool that, among other things, tracks expiring task orders on OASIS and the Professional Services Schedule that could lead to future business.  Check that out here:  The bottom line is that if you haven’t heard a GSA professional speak lately, you could be missing out on tools to help your business.


It can be tempting sometimes to talk with competitors about bidding strategies and whether or not they will bid on an upcoming procurement.  This is can be especially true in an IDIQ environment or BPA situation where there are fewer companies and the chances of people knowing each other well are good.  The “I’ll sit this one out, if you sit the next one out” strategy, though, is illegal.  Two companies recently found this out the hard way and had to collectively pay $29 million in fines for collusion and discouraging other companies from bidding on a Department of Energy auction.   In this specific case the government alleged that the defendants exerted pressure on the two other competing bidders to suppress their bids, depriving the Department of Energy of a fair bidding process and reducing the amount ultimately recovered in the auction.  The defendants were able to acquire the non-performing loan secured for far less than its fair market value.  We can already hear people saying, “what if it’s not an auction?”  It can’t be emphasized enough that the type of acquisition does not matter here.  What matters is whether companies engaged in anti-competitive behavior. The fine, too, is just one cost.  Legal fees, lost productivity, and now a bad reputation, will all cost the companies much more.  Not every company can compete on every task order, but make sure your decision to bid or not is a business decision, not one driven by the “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” culture of “we’ll the get the next one.”


Contractors can expect larger than normal fiscal year-end business due to the disruption of business earlier this year stemming from the government’s response to COVID-19.  Bloomberg Government reported last week that they expect $194 billion to be spent between now and the end of the fiscal year and that $101 billion of that will be spent in September.  That’s 52% of remaining funds.  Such a figure would exceed even the September 2018 spend of $99 billion.  BGov further believes that $28 billion will be spent on IT during the last quarter, while $32 billion will go towards professional services.  This is good news for contractors who may have seen critical projects delayed as their customers dedicated resources to emergency needs related to the pandemic.  Serious needs still have to be met, including security, delivery of services to Veterans, and front-line DOD mission support.  Contractors must be prepared more than ever, too, to help their customers buy from them easily.  Access to IDIQ contracts like the GSA Schedule, NASA SEWP, OASIS and others will be an essential part of a company’s business strategy. Don’t take our word for it.  NASA officials told a BGov audience that agency customers’ fourth quarter spending accounted for 54% of all of its revenue under the SEWP GWAC in 2019, 33% of which came in September alone.  Similarly, NIH’s NITAAC organization stated that the fourth quarter accounts for 57% of their annual business.  Being able to provide your customer with acquisition time savings may be just as important as the solution itself.  With Europe closed and two-week quarantines imposed in Maine and Hawaii, contractors should be extra-focused on finishing the year strong.  October vacations in Trenton will be there when you’re ready.


Pentagon leaders have told Congress that they would like $10 billion in additional stimulus money to ensure that the industrial base stays strong while dealing with the impact of COVID-19.  Congress, however, may not be in a giving mood after already approving $10.5 billion in additional aid this year, increasing DOD budgets over the past three years, and being poised to deliver approximately $741 billion in spending for 2021.  “We don’t need to give them any more money,” said HASC Chair Adam Smith (D-WA) during a recent teleconference and quoted in an article by Federal News Network.  Smith went on to note that DOD had yet to distribute half of the COVID-related money it had previously received.  A lack of additional supplemental funding may limit DOD’s ability to compensate contractors for workforce disruptions related to COVID-19.  While the agency has the ability to do so, the real key is the availability of money.  Pentagon leaders have previously said that they could need billions more in aid to meet such needs.  Contractors should plan accordingly.  A strong fiscal year-end may offset some of the negative impact, but some may still face challenges depending on the level of initial business disruption.  Still, contractors may be fairing better than their commercial counterparts.  Deputy Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment Alan Shaffer said on Government Matters recently, “We are somewhere under 40 companies in the defense industrial base that have had layoffs. I compare that to the rest of the nation and I think the actions the department took to accelerate payment to our supplier sub tier actually allowed them to stay in business.”