How to manage in an uncertain budget climate

Chris WiedemannBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

It’s safe to say that, over the last few years, industry and government have both gotten used to a certain amount of dysfunction in the appropriations process. We haven’t had a full package of 12 appropriations bills since 2008; some combination of omnibus appropriations and continuing resolutions (CR) is the new normal.

However, even by those standards, this fiscal year has been rocky – a series of short CRs, followed by the first government shutdown since 2013. In the end, that shutdown lasted less than a day, as Congress passed a CR funding the government through Feb. 8.

This is good news in that our customers have appropriations again, and can keep the lights on for the next three weeks. If you’re lucky or were working on closing deals before funding expired on Jan. 19, those contracts may close during this CR. Unfortunately, there’s a downside to the deal: Without getting lost in politics, there’s a very good chance that we’ll be right back where we started when this current appropriation period ends.
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3 marketing tips for selling to government in 2018

By Rita Walston, senior director, marketing programs

Marketing to the federal buyer is all about knowing the right timing, methods and rules. The key to this is knowing where each opportunity is in the procurement cycle, who the primary influencers are in each phase and what information is most useful to each group.

At this year’s Government IT Sales Summit, we gathered former top-level federal IT decision-makers to give us answers. During a session moderated by Lou Anne Brossman, founder and president of the Government Marketing University, panelists shed light on how to connect with government agency officials; how to plan and execute marketing campaigns when budgets are tight; how federal buyers consume marketing information before, during and after procurement; and how continuing resolutions, the “new norm” in Washington, impact the federal IT community.

Here are just a few of the tips gleaned from the discussion. To hear more from this session, listen to the on-demand recording:

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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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A continuing resolution is inevitable. Here’s what you need to do

continuing resolution, install base, federal government, budgetBy Stephanie Meloni, consultant

There’s a strong possibility of beginning FY18 under a continuing resolution (CR), so technology companies doing business in the public sector need to be aware of how this will impact sales. Since a CR keeps the government funded at the previous year’s budget, this will mean no new program starts or capital expenditures. The government is basically funding itself to keep the lights on and performing last year’s mission.

CRs have become more and more common in recent years, however, the next CR we face may be longer than most, as experts say it may need to extend into December.

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The State of DOD Funding

Lloyd McCoy Jr.StateofDODFunding_052416By Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD Manager

As always, my Market Intelligence colleagues and I are keeping close tabs on federal funding for upcoming fiscal years. And some recent action on a Defense bill caught our eye.

The House approved 277-147 the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, a $610 billion policy bill that’s $27 billion more than what President Obama had requested and more than the Pentagon even said it needed.

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FY16 Budget Forecast

US Flag, Capitol Building and MoneyThe Senate and the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) today, which the President can sign by midnight to fund government at FY15 levels through December 11.  What happens after the December 11 deadline is up in the air, but we’ll either see more CRs for the rest of the year, or an omnibus (like what we had in FY15).

First, let’s cover some budget scenarios:

  • Full Budget
    12 appropriations bills passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President by October 1 appropriating funds to each of the government agencies. These appropriations bills combine for over 20,000 pages of text and provide significant clarity from Congress on how money should be spentThis hasn’t happened since 2008.
  • Omnibus
     Twelve appropriations bills are consolidated into 1.  Agencies do receive new funding levels for the year and new programs can start, but the bill is significantly shorter (roughly 2,000 pages, compared to the 20,000 pages of the full budget) and lacks the direction from Congress on how the money should be spent.  FY15 ended on an omnibus.
  • CROmnibus
    A combination of a CR and an omnibus – funding some agencies at new levels for the fiscal year, while other agencies are dependent upon prior year spending levels.
  • Continuing Resolution (CR)
    Appropriations bills were not passed and new budget levels cannot be agreed upon in Congress.  A CR is a stopgap measure allowing the government to remain open and funded, but at the prior year’s spending levels, and no new programs can be started.
  • Shutdown
    Congress can’t agree on any aspect of funding, and all non-essential governmental functions are suspended until a budget can be reached.

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3 Questions Every COTS Vendor Should Ask in Preparation for FY16

End of FY15_CWChris Wiedemann_65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

It’s the last couple days of the 2015 government fiscal year, which to most of us means only one thing: closing year-end business. Selling COTS products to the government can get pretty hectic around this time of year, so you’d be forgiven for overlooking a salient and somewhat worrying fact: we still have no agency funding for FY16.

With exactly 2 days left of FY15 (and counting) the only existing Continuing Resolution (CR) flat lined in the Senate, although Congress does appear poised to pass a clean CR which has a good chance of making it to the President’s desk. Still, they are dealing with a very tight deadline and we might be in for another brief government shutdown before Congress can put a short-term CR in place.

The good news is, we’ve been here before. The beginning of FY14 became famous for its 16-day government shutdown. While it was painful for both the government and its industry partners, COTS manufacturers made a rebound, showing strong results at the end of the fiscal year. In the event of another shutdown, the best advice we can give to the COTS community is “hold tight.” While having most of your customers furloughed to begin a fiscal year isn’t ideal — and the impacts of a shutdown on the larger economy are significant COTS vendors will likely emerge more or less unscathed. All that being said, there are still important questions that need to be answered and issues that need to be addressed as we enter FY16’s uncertain beginning. Read more of this post

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