Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

GSA Schedule contract

Think you never win at the RFP game, here’s why

Does your business work on a response to an RFP for weeks, sometimes months, or years, and never win a contract? Was the contract influenced by another company or maybe the contracting officer had never heard of you? Let’s break down what you can do next time to ensure you are at least on the “shortlist” for the contract award.

According to Mark Amtower of GOVCON News, both are problems all contractors face and both are areas the contractor is in control of. In order to overcome both, a contractor must pursue procurement early in the process. Below are five steps every contractor should take. (GovConwire.com January 3, 2023)

  • Differentiate your company from the competition. Define your position by calling attention to your past performance, the time you have been involved in a defined area, and the agencies you are working with. Publicize your claims on your website and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is crucial because this is where your company and your subject matter experts are vetted. All key personnel profiles should clearly define your areas of expertise. (ibid)
  • Support your LinkedIn page through claims of your company’s differentiated position. (ibid)
  • Expand your network in targeted agencies, to those agencies that already know your company, and to agencies you want to work with. According to Mark Amtower, there are 2.72 million feds (DOD, IC, and civilian) on LinkedIn, therefore reaching out to agency leaders is not difficult. Look specifically for program managers, contracting officers, COTRs, and anyone involved in the RFP process. Connect on LinkedIn, with a personalized note. (ibid)
  • Develop and share content that reinforces your company’s differentiated position. People within your company, such as sales and subject matter experts and those involved in business development should be sharing the company content. Not only on the company’s LinkedIn page but on their personal LinkedIn profiles as well. There are GovCon groups on LinkedIn where you can and should post about your company (webinars, speaking engagements, white papers, etc.) Once an opportunity is identified, content should be sent directly to key influencers through LinkedIn. (ibid)
  • When you learn of a possible RFP or task order, increase your activity. This is the time to “step it up.” Increase content production and activity on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn to set up meetings. LinkedIn has a meeting capability, use zoom or meet in person. (ibid)

Inflluencing a procurement and making your company known are both within your control. Start early in the process and share often.

Have questions concerning website and LinkedIn content and/or how to research GovCon agency decision-makers? Give us a call.

The SBA & DOD are teaming up to reinforce Small Business Development

On Friday, December 2, 2022, the Defense Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for both agencies to better meet the needs of small businesses in the United States. The goal is to bolster small business development, both nationally and locally. (Executive Gov December 9, 2022)

Farooq A. Mitha, director of small business programs at DOD, and Mark Madrid, associate administrator of SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development, signed the agreement at the Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Center, a DOD-funded office in College Park, Maryland. (U.S. Department of Defense December 7, 2022 l DOD News)

There are over 90 Procurement Technical Assistance Centers throughout the US. These centers are set up to work with small businesses looking to obtain contracts with either DOD or other federal agencies. The centers are currently going through a rebranding and will move from Procurement Technical Assistance Centers to APEX Accelerators. The goal of the APEX Accelerators is to increase the number of businesses able to participate in the government marketplace. (ibid)

“One of the things that we want to make sure that we’re doing is providing resources and support to small businesses who are looking to do business with DOD, with other federal agencies, with state and local government and really reduce barriers to entry,” said Mitha. “And we can’t do that without our APEX Accelerators. And we can’t do that without a … strong partnership with the Small Business Administration and the [Small Business Development Centers] program.”  (ibid)

At the signing, Madrid said, “Today was about breaking down silos and working together because we’re all in it for the same reason. If you look at DOD [and] SBA, you look at the APEX Accelerators, you look at our SBDC network, we’re all trying to make government, and ultimately opportunities, more accessible to our small businesses at the end of the day. That’s what we achieved today.”  (ibid)

As a result of the MOU, Madrid is certain the DOD and the SBA will find many ways to better integrate training conducted by their APEX Accelerators and SBDCs. Their goal is to jointly conduct at least one national event a year together. (Executive Gov December 9, 2022)

SBA and DOD also launched a joint effort, called the Small Business Investment Company Critical Technologies Initiative, to drive investments in critical technologies that are key to national security. (ibid)

Are you looking to take advantage of one of the more than 90 APEX Accelerators resources and or the Small Business Investment Company Critical Technologies Initiative (SBICCT)? Give us a call.

GSA steps up in the nick of time

GSA temporarily lifted restrictions on economic price adjustments (EPAs) in its contracts in March of this year, to fight inflation. With prices still rising, the agency this month extended the flexibilities through March 2023 and said officers can now make adjustment decisions without the need for approval from a more senior official. (Federal Times September 20, 2022)

As more and more contractors feel the crushing effects of supply chain shortages, price volatility, rising costs, and fixed income impact, a need for immediate relief for contractors couldn’t come quickly enough. The latest memo takes power that was tied up in the request and approval process and puts it into the hands of contractors and procurement officers to evaluate, make decisions and keep business uninterrupted. (ibid)

“Inflation and uncertain economic market conditions erode scarce contracting dollars, cause severe hardship on federal partners, and discourage new entrants from pursuing federal acquisition,” said GSA in the memo announcing the extension. “The acquisition workforce has both the authority and the tools to take action to mitigate the impact of inflation in federal contracts.” (ibid)

Contractors no longer have to hold their contracts for a minimum of a year before submitting price increases. The new guidance also temporarily does away with the limit of three increases per year and the 30-day waiting period between requests. (ibid)

Contractors might consider the following:

  • Request adjustments to contracts if non-price changes to the terms offer some relief to the problems caused by inflation.
  • Determine whether their current situation with once-in-a-generation inflation warrants contractual relief.
  • File a formal request to the contracting officer even if the chances of success are low, so DOD can obtain quantitative data on the scope of the issue.
  • Encourage contracting officers to amend solicitations to include EPA clauses when preparing bids. (JDSupra September 21,2023))

Is your current contract not keeping up with inflation? Give us a call, we can help.

So You Want To Be A Federal Government Contractor

A recent American Express OPEN survey showed that 57 percent of businesses noted a significant increase in revenue when engaged in government contracting. In fact, those businesses saw their revenue grow at a rate of 61percent. Our focus will be on the largest source of doing business with the government, federal government contracting. (The National Law Review May 9, 2022)

Each year the federal government contract spending is in the billions of dollars. The United States government is the single largest procurer of goods and services in the world. Vendors sell anything from paper clips to fighter jets for the Department of Defense. In order to take advantage of this business, at any level, vendors must complete several required steps. (ibid)

Completion of Regulatory Basics

Businesses wishing to work with the federal government must complete specific regulatory requirements. All potential contractors are required to obtain a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI). Your business is assigned a UEI when you register on SAM.gov. Click here to learn more about obtaining a UEI. (ibid)

For a contract to be awarded by the federal government, approval must be obtained by a Contracting Officer (CO). COs only approve responsible contractors. The government will not enter into a contract with a vendor who:

  • owes back taxes
  • has a current or pending legal judgment with the government
  • does not have a checking account
  • is on the government’s excluded parties list
  • has not completed the basic regulatory requirement for doing business with the government

Before moving on, potential contractors should verify all required registrations are completed and a UEI is assigned. (ibid)

Locating Opportunities

Looking for opportunities within the federal government is similar to private industry. One must determine which agency has a need for a particular good or service.

There are many sources to help locate opportunities suited to a specific business. The main portals for entry into the federal government contracting are:

General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule

This is the most common form of a federal government contract. GSA is the “acquisition arm” of the federal government. Vendors who wish to be included on the primary contract vehicle, a GSA Schedule, can find additional information here. (ibid)

To be eligible for a GSA Schedule contract, a potential GSA vendor must show proof of at least two years of measurable past performance and provide two years of financial statements. References from the Federal arena may be used in lieu of experience. (ibid)

FedBizOpps

Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) contains government contracting opportunities with values over $25,000. (ibid)

GWACs

This is a government-wide acquisition contract (GWAC) in which multiple government agencies align their needs and purchase a contract for goods or services. Government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs) allow for economies of scale, which usually reduce per-unit costs.

Vendors may also act as a subcontractor to prime contractors. There are several sites to research for subcontracting opportunities. GSA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) both maintain subcontracting databases. Additionally, the SAM website, as well as the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), contain sources of information including trade and business publications.

There are two types of government contract offers – bids and proposals. Bids are made in sealed bidding purchases, proposals generally involve contract awards following a negotiation process. The three offer types are:

  • Request for Quotation (RFQ): Used for proposed contracts with a value of less than $150,000.
  • Request for Proposal (RFP): Used for acquisitions with higher values than an RFQ.
  • Invitation for Bid (IFB): Similar to an RFP, with values over $100,000. Contractors submit a sealed bid for government procurement. Generally, negotiation follows. (ibid)

It is extremely important that all information provided in an offer be factually sound and contain all information necessary for a CO to make an evaluation. Vendors should note that responses to technical specifications will become part of the contract, so it is wise not to overpromise. (ibid)

Once all requirements are satisfied the offer is ready for submission. Note, that the lowest-priced offer does not necessarily ensure a win. More often than not, experience and service excellence are deemed more important. (ibid)

The evaluation of offers begins when the government agency receives es the bids. Patience is key as acceptance of bids can take up to several months. The key is knowing and staying up-to-date with your Contracting Officer. (ibid)

Have questions about contracting with the federal government? Give us a call.

The SBA should focus on small businesses, not fraudulent businesses

Last week the small business community urged lawmakers to shrink administrative burdens complicating entry into the Small. Business Administration’s (SBA’s) 8(a) program.

This is timely as the Biden Administration has set a goal to bolster the share of federal contracts awarded to small disadvantaged businesses from 5% to 15% by 2025. A former SBA official suggests the SBA focus on expanding entry to the program for disadvantaged businesses and not spend time penalizing those who fraudulently attempt to gain entry. This will go a long way to help achieve the goals as set by the administration.

Jackie Robinson-Burnette, CEO of Senior Executive Strategic Solutions and a former SBA senior program executive said SBA should, “shift their focus to include every firm that is eligible'” for the 8(a) program. She mentioned that she served at the SBA, the SBA received over 2,000 applications a year and accepted only 300 participants. The Government Accountability Office believes steps were taken to address fraudulent applications to the 8(a) program. Unfortunately, there remains no official verification procedure. The Government Accountability Office did not take steps to improve oversight of the program, according to report filings.

Robinson-Burnette said, “right now, the focus is making sure they mitigate the risk of firms getting into the program that shouldn’t be in the program – focusing on the fraud – when really that’s 1% or 2% of firms that apply. The other 90-plus percent of firms are struggling to get in … because the SBA is focused on the wrong thing.”

In addition to misplaced focus, Rep. Kweisi Mfune (D-MD) said business owners have reported concerns with the length of the program and that it takes most firms multiple years to receive their first awards. Mfune said, “this hinders the development of program participants and raises the question of whether enterprises are ready for graduation when they exit the program.”

Darryl Hairston, the SBA’s former associate administrator of business development, said he submitted a proposal to redesign the 8(a) program a few years ago. Hairston took into account the complexities small businesses encounter in navigating the federal marketplace during their initial years in operation.

Hairston said, “one of the things that we talked about was that most firms coming into the program, who are truly eligible for the program, had little experience in the federal marketplace. The timeframe is highly dependent upon how successful you are coming into the program and how well you take off with the benefits that are available to you.”

Robinson-Burnette feels adding priority access for SDB mentors will increase successful outcomes. This will occur by shifting some of the SBA’s dependence from their assigned business opportunity and creating additional inroads to work opportunities. Mfume is considering meeting with the SBA administrator to figure out “what can be done in the time we have.”

Are you a small disadvantaged business or a business looking to work with one on an upcoming contract? Give us a call.