What the government’s latest report card really means

Chris Wiedemann

FITARA, IT modernization, report cardBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

If the federal government were our 8th grade son or daughter, their cell phone would probably be taken away for the rest of the school year.

The government’s latest Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) report card, released earlier this month, has six agencies getting worse grades since the last report card in June, 15 staying the same and only three agencies making better grades. The U.S. Agency for International Development was the only one to earn an A.

While we’re not talking about algebra and biology here, the results show agencies falling behind in IT modernization. But it could mean an opportunity for tech companies that sell to government.

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Here are the top 5 public sector tech trends for FY18

Chris WiedemannFY18, government, ITBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

There are only two days left in the federal government’s 2017 fiscal year. Are you ready for 2018?

While we still don’t know the amounts for federal IT budgets, we do know the government IT sector is a healthy one at around $80 billion a year. Add in state and local governments and educational institutions and you have a market valued at more than $180 billion.

Here are the five government trends we’re tracking for 2018:

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What is a solicitation?

Chris WiedemannWhat is a prime and a sub?By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

In our last “What is…?” post, we covered one of the basics of federal contracting: the concept of a prime contractor and subcontractors, or “primes” and “subs.” However, we left a key question unanswered – how does the government actually decide which company to award prime contracts to?

As you might expect, there are a lot of moving parts involved in the awarding of government contracts, whether you’re talking about relatively simple product buys or complex, multi-layered systems development and integration work. No matter the scope, though, the competition process usually begins in one place – the solicitation.

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What you need to know about September

2017 may only be rounding into its final quarter on the calendar, but for those of us in federal procurement, it’s approaching its end.

September is the last month of the government’s fiscal year, which means that business as usual is going to go on hold for the next four weeks. Our customers are in use-it-or-lose-it mode with their FY17 budgets, and our sales teams are going to be working around the clock to close deals and win new business.

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What is a prime and a sub?

Chris WiedemannWhat is a prime and a sub?By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

So far in our “What is…?” series, we’ve covered some of the basics of selling commercial items to the federal government, and with good reason – at immixGroup, our suppliers and partners are in the commercial business, and we care about the way our customers buy our products.

However, if you dig into the numbers, you’ll see that the bulk of the federal government’s annual IT spending doesn’t go to buying standalone commercial products. Instead, the bulk of IT contracting is done for services – in other words, paying companies to do things like staff federal data centers; provide hosting and infrastructure management; or develop, engineer and manage complex solutions and mission systems.

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Here’s what to expect at the end of the fiscal year. (Hint: It’s going to be more chaotic)

Chris Wiedemannfederal budget, fiscal year, procurementBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

The end of the federal fiscal year is just around the corner and it always brings its share of chaos as agencies scramble to make the most out of their “use it or lose it” money. This year will be no different.

In fact, given the truncated nature of this year’s omnibus funding bill, the situation on the buy-side has become even more chaotic, as customers try to move through FY17 appropriations and secure FY18 budget requests at the same time.

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What is a set-aside?

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Over the last few months, I’ve blogged on the basics of government contracting and selling to government customers – focusing on things like contract vehicles, the Federal Acquisition Regulations, the General Services Administration and federal cybersecurity requirements.

Taken together, those topics describe a basic framework for government procurement and the way industry interacts with it. They also demonstrate that public sector customers (both federal and state/local) behave differently than customers in the commercial space.

However, we haven’t yet addressed one of the most fundamental differences between public and private sector customers: The government, in addition to needing industry to help fulfill its mission, has a broad incentive to encourage economic growth across all sectors of American industry. Often, this growth means prioritizing small businesses over large corporations in contracting – and there are a set of contracting tools, known as set-asides, that enable just that.

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