FURLOUGHS, REMOTE WORK, RETURNING TO WORK – WHAT CONTRACTORS NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE CURRENT FEDERAL MARKETPLACE
Federal agencies that rely on user fees to generate part of their income are now faced with the possibility of lay-offs, just like some private sector companies. Being closed for business may result in furloughs. The US Citizen and Immigration Service announced such a possibility last week in a plea for emergency Congressional funding. While there is no word from other agencies, like the National Park Service, that also generate a large portion of their income from user fees, contractors need to know that this issue can easily become a distraction to federal customers. People concerned about furloughs may not be concerned about getting your task order issued right away. Similarly, as the US eases its COVID-19 lockdown, federal agencies may gradually re-open, causing concern and confusion in a workforce that may still harbor fears about being in public and whether they will have the ability to continue to work at home. While agencies will, for the most part, follow local guidelines on re-opening, it is noteworthy that the Pentagon is not. All of this means that your federal customer may be dealing with a lot more than the transaction of federal business. The pace of business is likely to be slowed as workers focus on basic questions like whether they should report to work and, if so, where that workplace might be. Some of these distractions may unfortunately last through the end of the fiscal year. Contractors may not be able to control much of what is happening, but they can remember the relationship-driven aspect of their work and act accordingly when working with customers who may have other things on their minds. Empathy and understanding may help drive business nearly as much as the latest technology solution.