The manner in which you do business with your federal customer is changing. Traditional acquisition methods stand increasingly side-by-side with newer, user friendly acquisition tools. Failure to notice and adapt to these changes could definitely have a negative impact on your government business. Those who attended the recent Coalition for Government Procurement Fall Conference got a taste of the future. Using both FAR and non-FAR-based flexibility to speed acquisitions was a consistent theme. GSA’s Jeff Koses and DHS’ Soraya Correa discussed OTA’s, GSA’s Commercial Solutions Opening, and their agencies’ procurement innovation labs. Laura Stanton of GSA discussed progress made to date on her agency’s Commercial Platforms Initiative, intended to open on-line commercial platforms for federal use. GSA Schedule program manager Stephanie Shutt updated attendees on plans to greatly consolidate the Schedules program to make it easier for federal customers to find what they need from GSA. In fact, it is notable that the number one issue federal buyers have with GSA is their inability to easily find what they’re looking for. IT modernization was a specific discussion topic, with GSA, DHS, and industry speakers all offering insights on how government agencies can use existing acquisition flexibility to obtain state of the art technology solutions that can help them better meet their missions. Changes are occurring, even if they may not be immediately noticeable. Make sure you know about the topics above and stay on top of developments in your specific market segments.
Contractors need to be aware that the federal inspector general community has a very different outlook on government business than they – or even their customers – do. Most problems, according to representatives of the VA and DOD Offices of the Inspector General who spoke recently at the Coalition for Government Procurement Fall Conference, stem solely from a contractor’s inability or unwillingness to submit all of the data an IG requests during an audit. The comments were made in a matter-of-fact manner, without any apparent malice or irony. The IG officials also do believe that they are independent, though anyone who has actually been through an audit knows that the government receives most benefits of the doubt, absent any clear evidence to the contrary. Contractors must approach all IG contacts with care. They are very, very different from interactions with agency customers. Assume that an IG official will always look at a situation in a way that is the most disadvantageous to your company. Even seemingly casual remarks can be viewed in an entirely different context. It is an established best practice to handle all IG communications via qualified counsel. Your federal customer may be your partner, but their IG is a different story.
It’s sad, really, that so many of us are at work today, the day on which we observe Veterans Day this year. Our 21st century “go-go” life obliterates this day of observance, as well as other days set aside for remembering people and events once thought worthy of such an honor. Over 17 million people died in World War I alone. It was the end of that war that set the stage for what we now call “Veterans Day” here and “Remembrance Day” in many other countries. Indeed, many other countries, including our neighbors to the north, do set-aside this day for its intended purpose. Take some time out of your day to day to remember our veterans – both here and departed – and remember that their sacrifices give us the ability to do our work, support our families, and build our communities.
This is the time of year when contractors and their government colleagues can be in conferences and meetings nearly 24/7. As we’ve said before, this is a great time to network and build relationships. Gaining knowledge, though, is also critical. Here are three questions to ask government speakers at events near you this autumn: 1. How are you working to ensure that the contract vehicle I use to reach my customers stays viable? Your company invested a lot of Read more
In case anyone needed more evidence that secure supply chains are now an expected component of every federal contractor’s business, the Department of Homeland Security set up a new task force on the matter last week. The task force, made up of representatives from IT and communications companies and industry associations, is part of a larger push by DHS to tackle cybersecurity vulnerabilities and other threats to commercial hardware and software products. The message to contractors is clear: fail to provide evidence that your supply chains are secure and risk losing government business. Read more