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Author: laura long

Back to Basics

If you are a long-time government contract holder or just beginning your government contracting journey, it is helpful to know the various forms of government contracts. According to GovCon Wire, these are the following 5 categories of government contracting.

Fixed-Price Contracts

The pricing of a fixed-price contract never changes. All risk is borne by the contract. The vendor works with what is provided by the government

Indefinite Delivery & Indefinite Quantity Contracts

Sometimes an agency isn’t exactly certain of its requirements. An agency may not know the exact amount of material or length of time required by a vendor to offer a service. Because of this, these are adaptable government contracts. They may also be called Task Order Contracts or Delivery Order Contracts.

Time & Materials Contracts

The contracting agency establishes a per-hour labor rate, evaluates materials costs, and puts in place a price ceiling. Vendors who find they can deliver services within a budget will find this an appealing option. Often contracts for emergency services are short-term. The contractor will deliver only labor and are called labor-hour contracts.

Cost Reimbursement Contracts

This form of contract tends to place greater risk on the government agency. This form of contract tends to lean towards research and development as opposed to actual goods or services. There are various cost-reimbursement contract subcategories, including cost/cost-sharing, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-plus award fee, and cost-plus incentive fee.

Incentive Contracts

This form of contract is actually based on a cost-reimbursement contract or a fixed-price contract, with added incentives. A government agency may award an incentive cract to a business who can complete a project swiftly. If the vendor completes the project ahead of schedule, the vendor may be eligible for an incentive (bonus). (GovCon Wire October 2021)

Do you have questions or need assistance with a government contract? Give us a call.

Tech is hot!

While tech procurements have been on the rise over the past several years, COVID most definitely fueled the flame. According to data from an analysis by Jeff Cook, managing director at Shea & Co., third-quarter 2021 tech deals hit nearly $2.2 billion. With much of that activity from strategic acquisitions. Government Technology, January/February 2022

The new year will likely see both large and smaller acquisitions continue with all being potentially significant. Cook expects, “the acquirers who’ve been active will continue to be active.” (ibid)

Apart from acquisitions, other factors have also fueled the growth. Although there is an abundance of bureaucracy in the government, the government is a stable source of sales and returns. While other areas of the economy may slow, the Government, both local and federal, will continue to operate. This coupled with the need to constantly update their tech requirements make the government a top contender for igniting tech growth. (ibid)

Another factor is the move toward cloud computing and software as a service. Google Announced in November of 2021, the launch of a cloud-based “sandbox” named RAD Lab. It is an instrument public agencies might use to test and develop their specific tools. As an added perk, Google provides support in a secure environment. (ibid)

Surveys of both cities and counties by The Center for Digital Government’s, in 2021, show greater movement to the cloud. Approximately one-third of cities report that about 30 percent of their systems and applications reside in the cloud. County migration is about 26 percent. Therefore, while movement is toward the cloud, there is an opportunity there that has yet to be tapped. (ibid)

Google is not the only game in town. Amazon is looking to take a piece of this market, as well. This shows how big tech is looking to add to their revenue from the gov tech space. (ibid)

According to Stewart Lynn, a partner at Serent Capital who leads gov tech practice, “many private-sector folks are finding new roles within government and have understood that the current systems in place are very antiquated and in need of an upgrade. As citizens have become more active online, you’re seeing governments being responsive to their citizens’ needs. Citizens today want the ability to go online and buy their permits, process their payments, understand what’s going with budget spending. And governments are responding to that demand by investing in digital solutions.” (ibid)

As with all new growth, comes a few hurdles and grey areas. According to Rita Reynolds, chief information officer for the National Association of Counties, “government technology vendors must be willing to update their terms of service and contracts to accept their responsibility and ensure that baseline essential security practices are in place to secure what they are hosting and providing to counties.” (ibid)

For counties, states, and the federal government, there’s a need for some flexibility within the procurement arena. An updated acquisition process and partnering with the private sector will go a long way to make this a win-win for both the government and vendors.

Trying to break into the government contracting arena? Give us a call.

How to find the perfect partner – in government contracting

The government contracting arena is not only tough to navigate but also highly competitive. Many businesses turn to business partnerships to better align their products and services to meet the requirements of the government. While there are many forms of business partnerships, the most common are subcontracting, joint ventures, and contractor team arrangements.

Subcontracting is the most popular form of partnership in government contracting. Generally, a prime contractor (possibly with an established government presence) looks for a small business entity to assist with a government contract. This type of partnership works particularly well for a small business trying to “break” into government contracting. Govconwire December 20, 2021

Another form of partnership is a joint venture. This is when a small business especially those under the Small Business Administration’s mentor-protege program form a partnership to execute specific tasks within a government contract. Small businesses will integrate their specific skills to perform under contract guidelines. (ibid)

The third type of partnership is the contractor team arrangement (CTS). This is when two or more businesses, all with GSA Schedule contracts, come together to work on very specific government contracts. (ibid)

There are several ways to meet prospective partners. There are government contracting events, sponsored by businesses and on occasion, the government. Government websites, also publish various subcontracting opportunities, such as eLibrary, SubNet, the SBA Directory of Federal Government Prime Contractors with a Subcontracting Plan, and the Department of Defense’s Subcontracting Opportunity Directory. (ibid)

Being prepared when pitching a potential business partner is the most effective way to learn whether or not the partnership will work for both parties. Knowledge of your potential partner is key, company background, products and services offered, benefits to both parties, and a product demonstration all help to determine if the businesses are the right fit to work together. (ibid)

It can be hard to know if two companies are right for each other. One way to determine a good fit is to work on a project together before heading into the government arena. Look at their performance under pressure. Did they handle expectations well? Did the pressure cause hiccups in performance? Did communication take place or were there bottlenecks? These are just a few questions to be answered when determining whether a business relationship will be positive as well as productive. (ibid)

Finally, is there a commitment from both parties? Like any lasting, strong relationship, there must be dedication on both sides to make the partnership work.

Struggling to get your first government contract? Looking for a business to partner with? Give us a call.

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Biden’s Management Agenda Vision includes Acquisition Priorities

The Biden Management Agenda was released last week. The Agenda includes the critical areas of strengthening the federal workforce, upgrading the customer experience, and administering the business of government. Government CIO Media and Research, November 19, 2021

The goal of the Agenda is to restore Americans’ faith in the government. The Agenda has three main objectives:

  • Strengthen/empower the federal workforce.
  • Deliver secure, equitable, and outstanding federal services as well as customer experiences.
  • Manage the business of government to “build back better.”

To achieve this, cybersecurity and IT modernization will be foundational tools for government management and mission delivery. (ibid)

According to the Agenda vision statement, “Agencies will continue to work together to enhance and secure government information technology as vital support and a catalyst for mission delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us how critical IT investments are to supporting mission delivery and the essential work of government.” (ibid)

The vision statement reads, “OPM and OMB also will continue to build out tools to support agency human resources professionals in data-driven strategic workforce planning and decision-making related to employee engagement, inclusion, and organizational performance.” The focus will be to ” make every federal job a good job.” The plan is to accomplish this through competitive compensation, enhanced engagement, and mission delivery, and union opportunities. (ibid)

The second objective is to make the delivery of improved customer service, a priority. The Biden administration wants to meet people where they are rather than ask the public to navigate through the many, and often hidden, government services areas. (ibid)

The vision statement reads, “Human-centered design research will drive the management of federal programs to develop a comprehensive understanding of how individuals interact with federal services. Through this process, agencies will identify barriers to service delivery and how those barriers create undue burdens on those the government serves, in particular for underserviced communities.” (ibid)

The third objective is improving federal acquisition and financial management systems. The Biden administration plans to prioritize US manufacturing as a way to stop future supply chain disruptions. The Administration plans for upcoming major acquisitions to support a reduction in carbon output. (ibid)

The agenda vision statement reads, “accomplishing these collective and activities will also require continuous improvements in our procurement, financial assistance, and financial management ecosystems. This shift will require new measures and processes, new training for the federal workforce, and new tradeoffs that agencies will need to address going forward.” (ibid)

The “next steps” within the Management Agenda are set to be released in early 2022. (ibid)

 

Questions about how this will affect future procurements? Give us a call.

 

 

 

The Navy is looking to end Small Business subcontractor baiting

The Department of the Navy (DoN) has exceeded all of its small business goals for fiscal year 2021, spending more than $17 billion with small business prime contractors. The Navy is, however, wrestling with small business subcontractors getting their fair share. (Federal News Network October 21, 2021)

An updated effort to enforce small business contracting plans is in the works, according to Jimmy Smith, the director of the Office of Small Business Programs for the Department of the Navy. (ibid)

According to Smith, “the Navy executed a Navy audit, service audit on subcontracting on our 10 major buying commands. The Naval Sea Systems Command was the first of those 10 audits. The audit has concluded. We’ve already seen the results of that and now we’re sharing that information across the entire enterprise to go off and correct problems. We don’t think we’re going to learn anything more from going over the same information in the other audits, so now is the time to get into corrective actions and the steps that we need in order to execute solutions to problems instead of continuing to admire problems.” (ibid)

The first audit has provided some changes to be made Navy-wide, according to Smith. “First is reporting back to our industry partners. We have to make that something that’s pretty standard, maybe use a machine learning technology to help contracting officers identify problems that are in contractor performance assessment reporting (CPARs) when it comes to how well our industry partners are doing meeting their own subcontract and goals, that they can communicate it to us. We would love to have a system that flashed bright red lights when an industry partner wasn’t living up to the plan in the document that they provide to us about the health of their effort. Right now, it’s all hand-over-hand reading to see if you find that someone is off and then go do the analysis. I think we have to come up with a mechanism that brings the importance level of subcontract and compliance up to a higher level to raise it to the attention that it’s deserved.” (ibid)

Government agencies and prime contractors, need to hold up their side of the bargain and be held accountable. In 2018, the Inspector General for the Defense Department found it to be a challenge for five contracting commands to monitor prime contractors’ compliance with individual subcontracting plans. He told the House Small Business Committee the individual contractors who held subcontracting plans, did not meet their small business subcontracting goals. (ibid)

The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council issued a final rule in August. The rule requires large businesses to make “good faith efforts” to meet subcontracting goals. A few examples of actions that are a failure to make a good-faith effort can be found in the SBA’s guidance list. (ibid)

The final rule spells out what encompasses not making a “good faith effort”. The rule includes turning in subcontracting plan reports late, not designating an employee to monitor the subcontracting plan, and not completing market research. (ibid)

Smith said the Navy has met all of its small business goals for the past four years. He added, the Navy’s goals are not just the numbers, but providing the correct capability to the warfighter at the best value. (ibid)

Smith noted that the Navy is finding small businesses that meet their needs by an extended outreach effort. The move to virtual events has also extended their outreach. Virtual events are more cost-effective and reach more people. Smith plans to continue to do some live events, however, webinars will complement these and hopefully reach even more small business contractors. (ibid)

Questions about your small business subcontract plan? Give us a call.