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Your guide to federal contracts

congress-150x150The federal government purchases everything from spaceships to paperclips and has a goal to award 23 percent of their prime contracts to small businesses. For the first time since 2005, the government met that goal — awarding 23.39% ($83.1 billion) to small business owners in 2013. More agencies than ever before achieved an A+ or A rating for their work in meeting their small business and socio-economic contracting goals.

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As the government’s fiscal year nears its end, federal agencies that had been spending conservatively are now flush with “sweep-up money” and looking to fill their product and service wishlists. For small-business suppliers, now is the time to revisit federal buyers and see if their needs align with your items. Experienced government contractor Dona Storey offers selling tips for suppliers.

As the federal government is in its fiscal fourth-quarter spending spree that ends Sept. 30, there may be opportunities that will significantly increase revenues and allow small businesses to scale up. In fact, as Deltek reports, more than 30 percent of annual federal government spending occurs in its fiscal fourth quarter, as many agencies that had been spending conservatively are eager to use the last of their funds for the year.

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Multi-Ethnic Hands Holding Dollar Signs With Flag Of USA For The Background.As an entrepreneur always looking to scale up my business, I’m constantly considering new markets and evaluating my customer base to see where there are gaps that can lead to opportunities. That’s the very reason why I got involved in government contracting and now advise other business owners to explore this market. Becoming a successful contractor in the federal marketplace can be a great way to open up new streams of revenue that can diversify your existing business. Read More

mid atlanticDoña hosted a talk show format panel made up of a former government contracting official, a former government program manager, a small business proposal manager, and large business proposal or capture manager. The talk show guests discussed the good, bad and the very ugly facts and perceptions about what is a “winning” proposal from both the bidder side and the evaluator side. The hosts shared important lessons learned and addressed many of the “why didn’t I win” assumptions and perceptions in the proposal management world. Guests brought  their own views, making this a very lively discussion, but they were also prepared by the host to discuss the specific issues that cause the biggest gap in agreement between the typical sender and receiver of proposals. Valuable lessons learned from the contractor side and very important insights from the customer side. Read more here.

contractI just had a great discussion at a meeting concerning past performance questionnaires (PPQ) and what could be done to effect a change in this obviously inappropriate requirement.  The issue is about the typical RFP/RFQ requiring the contractor/vendor to send a past performance questionnaire to a reference (work of similar size and scope) for them to complete and send directly back to the government contracting office by a specified due date and time.  Failure to have this accomplished can make you non-compliant or, in the best case, be evaluated as a “neutral” for past performance (a sure loser).  This is the very definition of “responsibility without authority.”

I want to emphasize that this issue is not related to whether or not a company has any CPARS past performance information or whether or not the government customer has been remiss in entering CPARS data.  CPARS is a… Continue reading →

cautionOn July 9, 2013 the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) launched a government-managed reverse auction platform— reverseauctions.gsa.gov— available through the National Information Technology Commodity Program (NITCP) of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).  GSA expects the platform to deliver increased savings for federal agencies on the most commonly purchased office products, equipment and services, while also making it easier for small businesses to compete for the government’s business.

In a reverse auction, sellers compete to win business from agencies; prices will typically decrease as the competitive auction progresses.  GSA’s new reverse auction platform reduces federal agencies’ acquisition processing time and costs, drives prices and costs down, improves transparency and collection of data, and allows for small business set-asides.

This approach to government procurement will be used with a significant number of GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) as a cost-cutting process for buying commonly used products and services. … Continue reading →