Game Planning, Not a Game

Federal News Network surveyed 100 or so government contractors during the final week of the shutdown about current contracted projects and expectations once the shutdown ended.

Not surprisingly, 71 percent said projects would be delayed and 40 percent believe it would take more than four weeks to get up to speed. Respondents also thought high costs would accrue during the re-start. Comments included the following:

  • Significant costs associated with re-start include rescheduled travel, reworked program plans, and employee hiring
  • Security clearance waits
  • Awaiting payment of invoices submitted before the shutdown
  • Permanent loss of employees to commercial firms due in part to fear of future shutdowns. (Federal News Network February 2019)

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requested that agencies move swiftly to pay contractors along with federal employees. However, agencies themselves are experiencing payment backlog, as several of the government’s invoice processing agencies had large portions of their own workforces furloughed. Before they returned, contractors’ unpaid invoices had been stacking up, awaiting formal acceptance and payment since 22 December 2018. (ibid)

We are hopeful that Congress passes legislation to make contractors ‘whole’ once future shutdowns ends, but we’re not holding our breath. Prudent contractors should plan for fiscal management upon another shutdown, possibly as early as 15 February.

Questions about your payments? We can try to help at 301-913-5000.

Shutdown Shakeup

Nearly 10,000 companies currently hold contracts with the federal government, at an average value per week of a whopping $200 million! (Washington Post January 16, 2019)

While larger companies’ deep pockets and ability to reassign employees provide some cover, smaller companies affected by economies of scale find themselves in a more vulnerable situation. If four of your ten employees work on government contracts that aren’t paying, you may not have the bandwidth to reassign them, leading to lay offs. Even if you can reassign those employees, their work completed for the contract after the shutdown may not be recoverable.

To give you an idea of government contractor work: product purchasing accounts for 20 percent of government spending, and 80 percent is for services, i.e. contractor work. Government agencies use contractors to supplement the federal workforce, which allows them to scale for demand. Contractors keep bathrooms clean, empty the trash in government buildings, compile data for and perform research so that that informed decisions are made, and provide security. Most of this comes to an abrupt halt when the government is closed. (ibid)

Even with federal contracts not officially suspended, a company can become mired in shutdown-related complications. For instance, government background checks stop, Federal Register notices aren’t published,  federal employees can’t approve completed contracted work or make payments, issue an export license, or approve new contract workers. Contract employees who work alongside government employees can’t go to work even if they want to if the building is shuttered. (ibid)

We know this is a tough time for our clients, and we’re here to help in any way possible. Give us a call at 301-913-5000.