How Vendors Can Deal With the Government Shutdown

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

Most of us have been surprised by the current partial government shutdown and how long it’s gone on. It’s on track to be one of the longest shutdowns in history, longer than 2013 (16 days) and getting very close to the 1995-96 shutdown (21 days), which it will pass by the end of this week.

Just because government is shut down doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck trying to sell into government. You just need to be aware that folks may be under greater than normal degrees of stress and maybe be overworked. That may mean they’re less likely to be in a position to take your call.

So, who’s working and who’s not? Well, for starters, we need to clarify the difference between essential and non-essential personnel. It’s pretty simple: essential personnel at affected agencies are working without pay, whereas non-essential personnel are furloughed at home. Essential personnel are ‘emergency’ personnel who are critical to safety or national security. The departments shut down include: USDA, DOC, DOJ, DHS, DOI, DOS, DOT, HUD, as well as major independents like NASA and the EPA, and a lot of smaller entities that probably don’t affect your sales.

Just because there’s a shutdown doesn’t mean all personnel are gone at the agency. Large portions of DOJ and DHS are still running, employees are just not getting paid. You may find fewer IT support staff available to take your calls, or the ones you do reach having less time to talk because they are covering for some colleagues who may be furloughed.

It’s safe to say that the more critical IT functions, like cyber security and maintaining system uptime at agencies with large amounts of essential personnel, are the places where you’re likely to find the most people still at work. But any contractor personnel assisting them are probably not working, and it’s likely that government workers are picking up the slack.

While you’ll still find opportunity at some agencies during the partial shutdown, your best bet would be to focus on agencies that are open and have appropriations. It may seem trite to say it, but agencies aren’t going to be able to effectively plan, implement and execute programs during a partial shutdown. They’re just keeping the lights on and moving forward the basic functions of American government for.

Keep up to date with what’s happening in government. Subscribe to immixGroup’s Government Insider Sales blog.

If you missed the recent defense and civilian marketing intelligence budget briefings at the Government IT Sales Summit, you can view them here.

About Tomas O'Keefe
Tom O'Keefe has over 10 years of market research experience as an Analyst and Consultant in the federal space. He also earned an MA in Political Science from George Mason University. He has covered both civilian and defense agencies and has presented to clients ranging from junior-level associates to executives from some of the largest Systems Integrators and contractors in the federal marketplace.

One Response to How Vendors Can Deal With the Government Shutdown

  1. Pingback: How Vendors Can Deal With the Government Shutdown | Government Sales Insider - Government Aggregator

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