Whole Lot of Spending Going On

In 2018, the US government made history, in more ways than one. Yes, the shutdown beginning in December of 2018 marked the longest in history, but according to Bloomberg Government, spending by agencies was also the highest in history. Nearly $64.7 billion was spent on IT contracts alone in fiscal 2018, an almost 10 percent jump over 2017 spending. (Nextgov January 29, 2019)

Both defense and civilian agencies tremendously increased IT spending. Defense IT spending increased by about 12 percent, to $33.8 billion. Civilian agencies increased IT spending by about 6.6 percent, to $30.8 billion. Veterans Affairs, Treasury, State, and Education all experienced double-digit spending growth.  IT spending grew in the past year in the following areas (ibid):

  • Tehnology services
  • Cybersecurity
  • Cloud Services
  • Digital Services
  • Software Development
  • Data Analytics
  • Artificial Intelligence

What is the takeaway from the spending increases? Our government relies heavily on its IT contractors! Expect the spending trend to continue increasing over the coming years.

Want to learn more about contracting with the government? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.

 

 

Open. Shut. Ajar?

By now, everyone is acutely aware that the government experienced the longest shutdown in US history. Doors opened on Monday but it is hardly back to business as usual. Contractors face countless bottlenecks as well as hurry-up-and-wait scenarios. Has the stop work order been rescinded? Does the contractor’s badge still work? If not, is a new clearance necessary? When work starts up again, will all employees be in place and ready to go? While it took no time at all to close the doors, opening them and getting back to business, as usual, is likely going to take some time. This, coupled with the looming possibility of yet another shut down, adds to the already less than perfect predicament in which government contractors finds themselves.

Homeland Security offered expectations with the re-start. Soraya Correa, chief procurement officer at DHS issued a notice stating, “If the particular RFP or RFQ established a deadline for submission of a proposal or quotation after Dec. 21, 2018 and the DHS funding lapse is not resolved prior to the deadline established in the RFP, then the proposal or quotations shall be due within seven business days following the resolution of the DHS funding lapse.” Correa also wrote, “If the particular RFP or RFQ provided for the submission of questions, comments or other forms of inquiry after Dec. 21, 2018 and the DHS funding lapse is not resolved prior to the deadline established in the RFP for this type of submission, then the submission shall be due within five business days following the resolution of the DHS funding lapse and resumption of business operations.” She explained that responses to RFIs are due three business days following the resumption of DHSs business operations. (Federal News Network January 2019)

OMB revised its guidance to agencies on 22 January, suggesting a recall of workers in order to pay contractors who billed the government before the 21 December shutdown. (ibid) Small businesses need those payments as soon as possible, whereas larger contractors have a little more room to work with as their pockets are deeper. Whether large or small, the pain is real and expected to last for a long time to come.

Hopefully, should the government shut its doors again, agencies are more prepared with notices to contractors. Setting expectations could relieve at least some of the panic.

Are you trying to figure out how to navigate through this trying time? Give us a call at 301-913-5000, We can help.

 

Tech Mod Fund Already Active

Tucked inside last week’s House Appropriations Committee bill, was a $25 million line item adding to the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). The TMF was created in fiscal year 2018 with $150 million aiming to help agencies with IT projects deemed critical; it is intended to make a significant impact on agency services and quickly deliver a return on investment. Although funding has faltered several times already, it appears the House will continue to add it as a line item until it is passed.  (Nextgov January 22, 2019)

Six different projects have been awarded, or loaned, under the original $150 million. Agencies have five years to pay back these amounts. (ibid) Included are the following receipts:

  • GSA received $15 million
  • Agriculture $5 million
  • Labor $3.5 million
  • HUD $45 million

Funding is provided via TMF board approval. The board consists of seven federal tech leaders, who weigh proposals through a two-round application process before voting on which efforts to approve and fund. (ibid)

Want to know more about which agencies are seeking funding and how to get positioned to bid?  Give us a call at 301-913-5000.

 

Dancing the Limbo … Still

The government shutdown is now the longest in US history, costing around $200 million per day or nearly $1.5 billion per week. This just compounds as the days and weeks drag on. (Nextgov January 15, 2019)

Business size makes the difference in the shutdown’s effect on employees.  Large companies with government contracts generally have the ability to shift employees around (with agency approval), give them training opportunities, or allow them to take vacation time, personal time, or sick leave. All with the knowledge that they will have jobs once the government doors reopen. (ibid)

Unfortunately, though, contractors large and small cannot maintain payrolls when their customers fail to pay, and employees feel the brunt with layoffs. These employees will likely have a hard time finding work, even after the government reopens. It’s the smaller government contractor that will have the hardest time holding on, and the longer the shutdown continues, that harder it gets.

Planning for the future during the shutdown also seems dire because RFPs without functioning agencies languish. This bottleneck stalls the process, task orders stop, and ultimately everything comes to a complete standstill. Hurry-up-and-wait turns into wait-and-wait and, again, layoffs can be the only answer for the small government  contractor. We, with you, hope for the shutdown to end. Now.

Do you have questions about which agencies are open for business and what you can expect? Give us a call at 301-913-5000 and we will help you out.

809 Panel Contracting Shake-Up

Often, the Department of Defense has the need to make “real time” purchases, in the same way as corporations in the commercial world. With a procurement process in place that can be lengthy, the solutions provided may not always be the most technologically advanced. Congress took this knowledge and commissioned the Section 809 Panel.

The Section 809 Panel streamlines and codifies acquisition for DoD and addresses issues with the way DoD purchases warfighter equipment. The panel released their third report this week, with the final report (tying all findings together) expected to be released in mid-February.

Among its recommendations to mirror the commerical marketplace are the following:

  • A more streamlined approach for purchases, which includes halting publicly advertising procurements and small businesses set asides. (Federal News Network January 15, 2019)
  • Dividing DOD purchases into three groups:
    • Goods readily available -acquisition officials could buy items on a fixed-price basis worth up to $15 million — or higher with senior official approval — via direct solicitations or price quotes. This includes no public advertisement or small business set aside requirements.
    • Goods readily available with some modifications – would follow similar principles as goods readily available, but allow for slightly more government contract stipulations, oversight, and transparency. For example, those contracts covering most of DoD’s services spending would require public solicitations if they’re worth more than $15 million. And losing bidders would be able to file both pre- and post-award GAO protests.
    • Defense unique procurements -the panel acknowledged that DoD and Congress had already done significant work to develop alternative acquisition approaches that could deliver systems more quickly. (ibid)

The Section 809 panel will be disbanded this summer, expecting its study to live on in perpetuity. The report’s final recommendation is for all of the panel’s records to be transferred to a proposed Center for Acquisition Innovation at the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School. (Federal News Network January 2019)