Don’t eliminate yourself from procurement awards by making these mistakes

By Kevin P. Young, Principal Market Intelligence Analyst

As I mentioned in my last blog, “Growing your FY23 pipeline,” the new fiscal year, which kicked off on October 1, offers a myriad of contacting opportunities for GovCons of all shapes, sizes and disciplines. From the standard federal budget programs to existing and new procurement vehicles, such as Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), and Indefinite Delivery / Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts, there is plenty of opportunity out there.

New programs earlier announced by the Administration provide substantial funding, including the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the $860 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Here are a few key, albeit sobering, facts about – and recommendations for – effective federal government procurement:

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Follow the Fed – SLED money trail

By Lisa Kilgore, Contracts Specialist, State, Local and Education

Federal funding and SLED procurement do not exist in a vacuum; instead, they are intertwined and could be seen as two sides of the same coin. The connection between federal and state institutions is symbiotic, dating back to the founding of the nation. There are many instances of federal initiatives spurring growth at the most local level. The post-pandemic world has led to a shift in how our nation views federal initiatives and top-down funding. Understanding the connection between federal and SLED procurement is imperative for lasting success in the public procurement field.

Basics of our governance structure
Let’s bring it back to the fundamentals. Our nation operates under two sets of governance: an overarching federal government, and individual state governments. The separation between the two helps limits the consolidation of power; it allows individual states to do what is best for their citizens, to a degree, without needing federal approval. In the public procurement space, we often highlight the differences between SLED and Fed, dividing the two into distinct categories. It helps us to cater better to our customers. However, it may help to alter that thinking and look at the connections between the two.

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Commerciality: Establishing pricing to the federal government

By Skyler Handl, Corporate Counsel, Public Sector

Selling to public sector customers is different from selling to the commercial market. For example, how much do you know about the government acquisition concept of “commerciality”? To preserve margins in government sales, you need to know how to comply with this concept.

Public sector customers typically require vendors to disclose cost data and then negotiate a profit, or “fee.” This flows through the entire government acquisition supply chain.

Commerciality was introduced as an exception to the general rule of cost disclosure to streamline government acquisition of commercial technology through requirements aligned to commercial market practices. Commercial technology is vetted by the open market, which mitigates risk, and reduces the expense of government acquisitions as development costs are spread across the commercial market. You wouldn’t expect to pay a one-time non-recurring engineering fee for the latest cellphone; it is baked into the price.

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DAFITC Recap: DoD cyber experts emphasize ZTA and RMF reform

By Ryan Nelson, Market Intelligence Manager

When it comes to cybersecurity, look for the DoD to emphasize Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) as the branches push for reform to the Risk Management Framework (RMF), among other hot topics.

At the recent Department of the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower 2022 conference, increased focus on ZTA and RMF topped the list of cybersecurity concerns across the DoD. According to a panel of cybersecurity experts, other top-of-mind topics included the Cyber Security Maturity Model and the need for a better articulated policy for cybersecurity overall.

The panel included cybersecurity experts across the DoD, including:

  • David McKeown – Deputy Chief Information Officer for Cybersecurity and the Chief Information Security Officer for Department of Defense (DoD)
  • Alvin “Tony” Plater – Director of Cybersecurity for the Department of Navy Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO)
  • Brigadier General Jan C. Norris (USAR) – Deputy Chief Information Officer, Department of the Army Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO)
  • Scott M. St. Pierre – Deputy Director Enterprise Networks and Cybersecurity Department of the Navy (OPNAV N2N6D)

As mentioned at the outset, panelists generally agreed that all branches of service need to move away from perimeter security to a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA). The panelists noted the DoD released a plan in July for Zero Trust Reference Architecture.

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New Requirement for Software Deliverables to Comply with NIST 800-218

By Skyler Handl, Corporate Counsel, Public Sector

On September 14, 2022, OMB took a substantial step forward in implementing EO 14028 Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity by issuing memorandum M-22-18. This memorandum requires agency leaders to comply with NIST Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF), SP 800- 218,3 and the NIST Software Supply Chain Security Guidance with regards to third-party software in agency information systems. This applies to software developed or modified by major changes after September 14, 2022, regardless of whether the software is a commercial product or COTS item.

How does this impact your business?

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Growing your FY23 pipeline: Five sources of actionable market knowledge

By Kevin P. Young, Principal Marketing Intelligence Analyst

I have been fortunate to have a “first career” in print journalism–New York Daily News, Gannett Newspapers / USA TODAY and The Associated Press–where we learned immediately that no one source of information, whether “primary” or “secondary,” is acceptable; that confirmations and validations are critical.

The same dynamic holds true in our federal government industry, where news, notes and rumors run like unabated streams–and information must be confirmed and validated to call it true and “actionable” market knowledge.

In federal fiscal year 2023, which just kicked off on October 1, there are myriad contacting opportunities for GovCons of all shapes, sizes and disciplines–from the normal federal budget programs and cycles–to existing and new procurement vehicles, such as Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA), Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), and Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts; to the significant programs recently announced by the current administration: The five-year, $1.2 trillion Critical Infrastructure agreement and the $860 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) commitment.

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The White House’s updated top technologies for American innovation and national security

By Kevin P. Young, Principal Marketing Intelligence Analyst

The Biden-Harris White House earlier this year released an updated list of Critical and Emerging Technologies, also referred to as CETs, that can play an important role in our nation’s security. Last updated in 2020 under the Trump White House, this nonpartisan list of national priorities represents a subset of novel, advanced technologies with the potential to chart new pathways in American innovation and strengthen our national security.

They also represent a critical “roadmap” of strategic and tactical paths government contractors should consider in the areas of technologies, capabilities, solutions, products and services.

The National Security Strategic Guidance defines three key objectives:

  1. Protect the security of the American people
  2. Expand economic prosperity and opportunity
  3. Realize and defend democratic values.

At the recent Global Emerging Technology Summit, Lloyd J. Austin, U.S. Secretary of Defense said: “Innovation lies at the heart of American security. Nobody innovates better than the United States of America. But we can’t take that for granted … America’s integrated deterrence relies on both innovation and investment. Innovation requires the resources to develop new ideas and scale them appropriately. And investment pays off when it’s focused on the challenges of tomorrow, and not yesterday.”   

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Four SLED contracts to build out your sales toolbox

By Jessica Wilhelm, SLED Contracts Specialist

If your company is selling IT products or services to the state, local and education (SLED) market, it is extremely important to maintain and expand the statewide contracts and cooperative agreements that form the foundation of procurement at this level.

Why build out this SLED contracts toolbox?  Simply put: Ease of use. Using a SLED contract vehicle with competitive pricing and negotiated terms and conditions equals a shorter procurement process for you!

If you’re new to the SLED space, you need to know that not all contracts are a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are a few types of SLED contracts that you should have in your toolbox. Three are SLED-specific; one allows SLED organizations to make use of federal vehicles. Here’s what you need to know.

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Turn year-end disappointments into successful pursuits

By Kevin P. Young, Principal Market Intelligence Analyst

As we come into the last six weeks of the fiscal year, there are high expectations that the deals in your pipeline will come in before the clock strikes midnight on September 30. While many deals will undoubtedly come in – including an occasional bluebird or two — there will be some disappointments as well.

For the deals that did not come in, there’s also going to be a lot of after-the-fact analysis of why you did not win. Here are some of the most common reasons deals DO NOT come in:

  • You did not have a clear understanding of the client’s requirements and issues
  • Your technical solution was not a good fit
  • Your pricing was not competitive
  • You did not have strong relationships with the (1) key decision maker and/or influencer, (2) program office and/or (3) contracting officer
  • You assumed your potential client’s stakeholders were predisposed to YOU as “neutral” or “positive

What can you do better in the next fiscal year – besides righting the obvious alluded to above?

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Small businesses make headway in government: Are you properly registered?

By Kevin P. Young, Consulting Market Analyst

There’s good news for small business federal government contractors in the recent announcement from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that the Biden-Harris Administration exceeded its small business federal contracting goal in 2021. According to the SBA, the administration awarded 27.2 percent, or $154.2 billion, in new contract dollars to small businesses – an increase of $8 billion increase from 2020.

The SBA has a goal of 23 percent to 26 percent of all System for Award Management (SAM)-registered federal procurements be targeted for small businesses – direct, via prime contractors and via procurement vehicles/channels.

Although the news is good and, despite the overall increase in the dollar value of small business awards, the absolute number of small businesses receiving prime contracts with the federal government decreased again in FY21.

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