Tracking government “openness” changes in contracting

By Jenni Taylor, manager, government programs and contracts

Federal contracting officers are moving towards more openness in procurement, which is a step forward in the cumbersome federal procurement process, according to Michael Fischetti, executive director of the National Contract Management Association.

Fischetti’s remarks came during a panel discussion at our recent Government IT Sales Summit, titled “Without a Contract, There Is No Deal: Updates on Contracts and Procurement.”

Contracting problems occur in government because contract professionals “are at the end of a long chain” of requirements definitions, budget analysis, time, coordination and approvals that Fischetti says often have nothing to do with requirements themselves. Despite that long process, Fischetti added that the federal procurement generally works free of political intervention.

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What is FBO?

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

In my last post, I covered solicitations – where the rubber meets the road in federal procurement. As I mentioned, solicitations take different forms and come out in different ways. Most of them come out on specific contract vehicles, and in turn, most of those vehicles have specific bid boards (for example, solicitations on the SEWP GWAC are released to the SEWP website, while GSA Schedule solicitations are released to eBuy).

This has the advantage of limiting the universe of competition, which makes the buying process easier on the government. However, there are occasions when a government buyer wants to open up a solicitation to the entire industry. This is known as an “open market” solicitation – and if the value of the planned acquisition is greater than $25,000, you’ll find it listed on Federal Business Opportunities, better known as FBO.

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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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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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What is government contracting?

Chris Wiedemann_65 x 85what-isBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Are you surprised by our headline? Don’t be. Selling to the government is like doing business with a foreign country. It has its own culture, language and customs and it’s truly unlike doing business in the commercial world.

Our industry is so full of terms and nuances that are hard for many of us to define to a layperson, which is why we’re kicking off a monthly “What is…” blog series to help alleviate some of the head scratching. So let’s get started.

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6 ways to transition to the new administration

Allan Rubin 65x85transitionBy Allan Rubin, vice president of marketing for Arrow ECS North America

The election is over, but uncertainty about the future of Washington still looms. Despite high-level picks already announced by the new President-elect, no one really knows the makeup of the future administration.

This creates some big questions for the IT industry: Who will stay and who will go in government, and how do technology companies navigate the transition? It’s tricky, but there’s a lot of opportunity (and risk) for us during this brief window. It’s a question your executives at corporate are probably asking you about already.

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Why GWACs Are A Good Bet

US Flag, Capitol Building and MoneyBob Laclede 100x135by Bob Laclede, Vice President, Channels

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has dusted off a 2011 policy for stamping out “unnecessary” government-wide acquisition contracts. With so much time left to do business in FY 2016, it’s time to review the fundamentals of a good GWAC strategy. And a few of the techniques manufacturers can use to maintain or even boost their federal sales even if they don’t have a prime contract on one of the main GWACs.

What I’m suggesting may sound obvious, yet I’ve heard so many manufacturers over the years complain that they’re blocked out of this or that agency or requirement because they miscalculated their GWAC strategy. Read more of this post

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