THE CASE FOR BEING PROACTIVE WITH GOVERNMENT
Contractors are mainly reactive to government needs. This ultimately results in frustration not only for government agencies, but for contractors, themselves, as well. The government actually often wants input and acknowledges that they make better decisions when industry participates. Yet, twice this week we’ve been in discussions with government officials who practically had to beg for industry input. Even when companies have the ability to comment through associations, and thus retain some degree of anonymity, meaningful input can be scarce. This leaves government officials scratching their heads and wondering why the same companies that are reluctant to provide insights before a program starts are inevitably the same ones that ask for changes immediately after its inception. What do your government contacts want to know about? It’s not just the latest technology solution. Those discussions have their place, but so, too, do insights on best practices a contractor may have seen work well in one area that can be adapted to another. Similarly, recommendations to senior officials on identified best management strategies, budget ideas and even suggestions, pre-contract, on how to best move money around can be well-received. Contractors can’t expect their government colleagues to be up to date on all of the latest commercial industry changes or innovations that have worked well in other government agencies – sometimes not even in their own agency. The best time to shape a project, too, is before it starts. The bottom line is that contractors should provide reasoned input and ideas, especially when their customers are openly asking for it. Don’t sit quietly and then wonder why the requirement, budget initiative, or management practice isn’t as good as it could be.