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HOW MUCH DOES THE GOVERNMENT SPEND ON WHAT YOU SELL?

Government contractors spend considerable funds on market research to determine how much government agencies buy of what they sell, who buys it, and how they buy it. This is a standard commercial market practice and one that can help contractors be more efficient in their business development efforts.  Unfortunately, the area of discerning government spending in many areas is much more “art” than “science”.  The most frequently used database, the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), will provide one set of results, while private sector organizations based on that information will provide others.  Run a comparison of GSA Schedule sales via their Schedule Sales Query and match that against FPDS numbers for the same search parameters and you’ll get different numbers as well.  Despite federal efforts at improving spend analysis, the fact is that there is no exact data on many items and services that the government buys.  Some of this is the result of the “human factor” where contracting officers must log in acquisition information to a FPDS or a specific agency system.  CO’s are not known for having a lack of work to do and its easy for them, as it is for anyone else, to make errors or skip over some data fields.  This can cause frustration among contractors.  Many experienced companies have, in fact, developed their own programs for analyzing and determining government spend in the market segments in which they do business.  These numbers may be the most accurate as there is a strong business motive to be as specific and detailed as possible.  Not all businesses, though, can afford to create their own data.  Until technology catches up with acquisition, many companies will have to make do with what’s publicly available.  This can be difficult for senior corporate management to understand, but to use one of our favorite quotes, “this is the business we’ve chosen”.

MAIL BAG: OUTDATED, UNUSED COMPLIANCE MANUAL WORSE THAN NOTHING AT ALL

Alert reader A. Grande of Petoskey, MI writes, “During our company’s recent move, I found a document titled, “GSA Schedule Compliance Manual – 1998”.  I’d never seen it before, even though we’ve had a Schedule for years.  Should I update it, or just buy it a drink since its over 21?”   Very funny, A., but outdated compliance manuals are no laughing matter.  Indeed, any auditor would take it as a sign that your company isn’t serious about following the terms and conditions of your contract.  Compliance manuals and processes only work if they’re followed, trained to, and maintained.  Both rules and your workforce change over time.  Training needs to be consistent, part of the on-boarding process for every new hire and annually for your team.  Many contractors also have an annual review process in place to catch potential issues before they become problems and update any written policies that need it.  Current compliance manuals and training aren’t a 100% guarantee that your company won’t run into a compliance issue.  Like a flu shot, though, they do reduce the chances that you will get sick and, if you do, that the case will be milder.  Not getting a shot, or keeping your compliance program up to date, can make you sicker and cost your company plenty in terms of fines and lost productivity.  Whether a good compliance program will make you feel like the “King of Staten Island” is problematic, but it is definitely a best practice to reduce risk and cost.   

WHAT DO ZOOM, WEBEX, TEAMS, & SKYPE HAVE IN COMMON?

Allen Federal has experience with all of these virtual meeting formats – and more!  We can train your virtual workforce no matter where they are.  While the government has relaxed requirements in some areas, compliance isn’t one of them, so its important that your team get its annual training hours in.  Better still:  Reduced rates are available since we don’t have to physically travel to your location!  Contact us today to see what we can do for your team at info@allenfederal.com

IS FEDERAL FY’19 SPENDING INCREASE AN INDICATOR FOR THIS SUMMER?

Federal agencies spent more on products and services in FY’19 than in any other year in the past five, according to data sited by the Federal News Network.  Multiple award contracts continued to be an important channel through which that spending was conducted.  Bloomberg Government reports that nearly one in four dollars were spent that way.  While that number is not a statistical increase over previous years, the number of dollars increased proportionally, indicating that MAC’s are an important part of nearly any government contractor’s portfolio.  This is especially true when selling to the Department of Defense.   The Pentagon spent $84 billion through MAC’s last year, up from $61 billion in 2016.  The two largest spend areas, nearly equal in size, were IT and professional services.  Firm, fixed price and cost-plus contracts were the most popular.  The Government Accountability Office, however, criticized DOD for not hitting competition goals.  Only a little over half of DOD acquisitions were competed among multiple companies, according to GAO.  That number, however, doesn’t completely match recent anecdotal evidence from contractors, suggesting that the GAO definition of “competition” may not truly reflect the amount of pre-RFP or RFQ competitive analyses nearly every contractor does when deciding whether or not to bid on a specific project.   Contractors can expect strong business again this summer, though much of it may be to continue projects already underway.  The gradual re-opening of government agencies, coupled with over COVID-19 distractions, may not result in numbers as high as last year, but it could be close.  See the story here for more:    https://federalnewsnetwork.com/reporters-notebook-jason-miller/2020/06/federal-procurement-spending-up-120b-since-2015/

RUSH TO CMMC IMPLEMENTATION TO MAKE BELTWAY LOOK LIKE SMOOTH SAILING

The Department of Defense expects contractors to have Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) in place for procurements that will happen in 2020.  The standards on how to asses a company’s status are just being rolled out now, though, and no company has yet gone through the actual process.  More than one observer has said “what’s the rush?”.  Indeed, while the idea behind CMMC, to ensure the cybersecurity of DOD contractors, is a good one, the short time frame between when assessments can actually take place and procurements requiring certification role out almost guarantees that there will be problems and logjams.  “It’s not clear there will be time to iron out the wrinkles,” said Bill Solms, the general manager and president for government solutions at QOMPLX in a recent Federal News Network article.  While DOD officials have said there will be “pathfinders” to test the new assessment protocols, guidance from the agency on how many companies will qualify has been uneven.  DOD is also intentionally limiting the number of assessment organizations until they get a better handle on how the accreditation process actually functions.  All of this can leave contractors caught between a compliance rock and a hard place.  While not all DOD procurements will contain CMMC requirements right off the bat, several larger projects will.  If FedRAMP cloud accreditation experience is any guide, what projects are covered and the security level needed to compete will be at least somewhat subjective. DOD promises that the situation will become clearer once accreditation standards are announced.  That still does not ensure that accreditation of individual companies will take place in a timely manner, especially in time to ensure competition on important acquisitions.  DOD officials should consider postponing the implementation of CMMC to avoid a mess that may make navigating the Capital Beltway look as easy as one of John Denver’s country roads.  See the article here for more:  https://federalnewsnetwork.com/reporters-notebook-jason-miller/2020/05/cmmc-accreditation-body-close-to-releasing-assessor-training-requirements/