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NEW PEOPLE, NEW TRAINING: MAKING SURE YOUR TEAM KNOWS THE RULES

Has your company hired new staff to work on your government contracts?  Have other people been promoted or assigned to work on contract management?  These are all indications you’re your organization is definitely due for training on contract compliance and ethics.  Changing contract managers, especially if there is any kind of gap in coverage, is a high risk indicator for non-compliance that could end up costing your company a bundle.  Allen Federal can help.  We offer training to new, or newly assigned, personnel that can be tailored to your company’s specific needs.  Assume that there have been compliance problems if your old manager left in November and your new one is just coming on now.  Contact us today at info@allenfederal.com and get back on track! 

3 THINGS TO FOCUS ON NOW: ASSISTED ACQUISITIONS, DIRECT CLIENT ENGAGEMENT, & RECOMMENDING INNOVATIVE ACQUISITION METHODS

All federal agencies either have their budget number for FY’19 or will have it in about a month.  As we shift into the next part of the fiscal year, here are three things to focus on now:  1.Assisted AcquisitionDoes your client’s procurement shop not understand them? You’re your project require special acquisition expertise?  Whether you sell IT, professional services, or even other types of solutions, leveraging the capabilities of assisted acquisition offices can be a good way to increase your overall business and help customers in a jam.  2.  Now is the time to develop your sales leads and make sure your target agencies know your capabilities.  Acquisition actions will start coming when the weather warms up, so make sure you’re ready by developing the relationships you need and educating your customers on why your company’s solutions are the best for them.  Don’t try to be everywhere at once, but definitely don’t spend too much time in your own office.  3.  Can you tell your OTA from a BPA?  If not, you’d better learn fast.  If so, make sure you use this knowledge to your advantage by suggesting innovative acquisition methods to your client.  Finding a way to make their acquisition easy helps both the customer and your company.  Whether it’s a set-aside, IDIQ contract, OTA, or other innovative approach, be prepared to recommend the top 2-3 that you think will work best.  This is the time of the year that you set the table properly so you can eat as much as you can later.  Remember, forks on the left!

NEW MEMO EXPECTED TO STRENGTHEN CATEGORY MANAGEMENT

Expect further consolidation of contract methods, more centralized acquisition, and continued data collection and remittance requirements from a new Category Management memo expected soon from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP).  OFPP leaders are serious about making further reductions in contracting overhead, which could also result in reducing the number of contractors, while better leveraging the government’s collective buying power.  For service contractors this may mean that the savings the government could not achieve via the commoditization of labor categories could occur via limited, standardized contracts.  In addition, contractors can expect to have data collection and remittance requirements in each contract so that government leaders can analyze prices paid with the ultimate goal of dramatically reducing spending.  Left unsaid, for now, is whether OFPP will attempt to actually mandate the use of specific contract methods to the exclusion of others by threatening agency budgets for those who refuse to go along.  So far, CM comes right up to the line of making specific contract use a “thou shalt”.  Agencies generally go along with the CM guidelines, but also have flexibility to do their own thing.  Removing that freedom would be a sign that OFPP believes that they can succeed where others have failedDon’t get stuck with obsolete contracts that drive little business.  Stay tuned for OFPP’s memo.

MAILBAG: WAITING FOR THE CO TO APPROVE YOUR MOD

Sometime reader L. Gaga of New York, NY writes, “We submitted a price decrease request to our CO two weeks ago, but haven’t heard back.  Should we keep waiting?”  Interesting question, L.  In fact, we just had this in a recent Schedules class.  The short answer to your question is “no”.  There is usually no reason to wait for formal CO approval on a price decrease, especially if it is temporary or to maintain compliance with your GSA Schedule Price Reductions Clause.  The government likes lower prices.  The key is to ensure that the CO knows that the discount is temporary, if in fact it is, and when normal Schedule pricing will be restored.  On the other hand, you must wait for a price increase request to be approved.  This approval must come from the GSA CO, not a customer agency CO or GSA contract specialist.  Typically, your GSA Schedule price will lag behind your commercial prices.  This is because GSA wants to see evidence that you have billed, and been paid, on the higher amount before they will consider an increase to the Schedule price.  Many companies, though, go years without increasing Schedule prices and then expect to catch up all at once with one modification.  Schedule contracts typically don’t allow for prices to go up by more than 10% in any one year, though.  As such, we recommend setting a calendar reminder to review pricing on a regular basis or trying to “catch up” during your five year extension processManaging your Schedule prices properly helps your company stay in compliance.  Your boss may even exclaim, “A star is born!”

BUDGET DEAL PROVIDES FULL FY’19 APPROPS FOR COVERED AGENCIES

While most national media outlets focused on the border wall issue during last week’s Congressional action, the real good news for contractors is that the legislation provides full funding for DHS, State, Justice and other agencies for the remainder of the fiscal year.  That’s very good news for both contractors and agencies, both of whom had recently been nervously eying the prospect of a shutdown or a “permanent” FY’19 CR.  New project starts may now be possible by the end of March.  That’s about a month earlier than last year and a two month improvement over FY’17.  Budget analysts predict that larger or mission critical projects will still be able to move forward as planned.  It’s smaller or less needy projects that may be pushed to the side.  The compressed time frame, though, does mean that projects that go through assisted acquisition service shops will have to be initiated quickly.  Indeed, all business for the impacted agencies will have to be done in about half a year, though agencies should now be accustomed to that pace given previous year constraints.  Of course, DOD and other agencies that accounted for 70% of discretionary spending have had their funding all along.  Overall, this means that FY’19 should be better for business than the previous two.