Agency Spending During the Pandemic

Government contractors are experiencing difficulties as they work through obstacles and uncertainties during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if you thought spending would slow, think again.

In response to the emergency, spending likely exceeded $100 billion for the month of March, according to a webcast hosted by George Mason University’s Center for Government Contracting (GMU). Because of a standard 90-day reporting lag, that figure is likely to be even higher. (Washington Technology, March 31, 2020)

The department of Health and Human Services is responsible for the bulk of non-defense contracting activity with commitments of approximately $748.5 million under research and development. Eric Lofgren, a GMU research fellow, feels the majority of that is going toward “Other Transaction” contracts, designed for speed of fielding capabilities as they fall outside of traditional acquisition regulations. (ibid)

Orders are also being solicited and placed for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as services such as testing and cleaning. Orders of this nature could very well rise to over $100 billion in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Non-defense spending, as of 27 March, totaled $15 billion, which is on track for spending during the same timeframe in 2019. However, the recently passed CARES Act stimulus package frees up $2 trillion so agencies have funds available for immediate use. (ibid)

The Department of Defense is looking at how the commercial industry is designing solutions. In March, DoD requested white papers from the academic community and private industry for prototype solutions to prevent, contain, treat, and detect coronavirus as well as other possible bio-threats. Many believe this is just the start as DoD begins to support the federal government’s pandemic response. (ibid)

Jerry McGinn, executive director of the GMU GovCon Center and former head of DoD’s manufacturing and industrial base policy office said, “Initially a lot of industry was in the sources sought phase of solicitations, now you’re starting to see they’re just going straight to solicitations…. They’re publishing notices on one day and requiring responses the next, and this is just going to accelerate.”

Questions about these solicitations and how your company might provide solutions? Give us a call.

Program UnSupport Center

Back in June, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) announced it would halt assisted acquisition services for non-HHS customers after September 30, 2020. Until the announcement, HHS provided assistance through the Program Support Center (PSC). After the deadline, all 19 agencies (with more than $1.4 billion in contracts per year) who had contracts administered by HHS will have to look elsewhere or figure out how to administer the contracts themselves. (Government Executive, September 13, 2019)

PSC lacks the procedures, policies, and internal controls to work with agencies outside of HHS. In addition, questions have been raised as to whether the PSC is actually legally authorized to administer contracts for agencies outside of HHS. (ibid)

Many questions remain unanswered, such as the fate of bids in the process of evaluation. Unfortunately, the PSC is not communicating with customers at this time, according to Federal News Network. This is surprising, as the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Administration focused on the need for “continuous communication” in customer service. (ibid)

So where will all of these contracts be administered? An EPA spokesperson said EPA contracts will either placed on new or existing EPA contract vehicles or handled through interagency agreements with other federal agencies. The Office of Special Counsel is partnering with Merit Systems Protection Board to process a number of mission-critical procurements. In 2020 GSA is assisting OSC with their procurement requirements. (ibid)

If you have questions about how this affects a current bid or your current HHS-administered contract, give us a call.

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.