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Small Business

The 2023 GUAGE Report: Illuminating GovCon Industry Best Practices

For government contracting companies, keeping pace with industry trends and best practices is crucial. How do other companies in your sector operate? What strategies lead to success? How can you ensure project success, compliance, and business growth? Fortunately, a recently unveiled report can provide the answers. (GovCon Wire September 12, 2023)

For seven consecutive years, Unanet and CohnReznick LLP have collaborated to gather insights from GovCon organizations across the industry. The result is the GAUGE Report, and the 2023 edition is now available for free download. (ibid)

Understanding the GAUGE Report

The GAUGE Report serves as an annual industry roadmap, offering benchmarks, trends, and insights tailored to GovCon companies and executives. This comprehensive guide provides a window into the current market landscape, best practices, and forecasting techniques. (ibid)

Each year, Unanet conducts surveys involving GovCon organizations of various sizes and missions. In the 2023 edition, responses from over 1,100 GovCon executives and management were analyzed to uncover prevailing trends and best practices. The report’s name is derived from an acronym representing key focus areas for government contractors: Government contract compliance, Accounting, Utilization, Growth, and Efficiencies. (ibid)

Leveraging Benchmarking and Best Practices

The GAUGE Report serves as a valuable yardstick for GovCon businesses. It allows companies to establish relevant benchmarks for evaluating their performance and progress. By comparing their practices against peers, organizations gain insights into how they measure up and where improvements may be needed. (ibid)

The report also provides an overarching view of the current GovCon market and business environment. This perspective enables companies to align their strategies with industry trends effectively. (ibid)

The Key Takeaway: Leading Through Forecasting

The central theme of the 2023 GAUGE Report is the pivotal role of accurate forecasting and planning for GovCon firms’ success. It underscores the importance of precise forecasting, resource efficiency, service/product diversity, and contract versatility. (ibid)

For small and medium-sized GovCon companies, strengthening long-term planning by investing in infrastructure, understanding their pipeline, embracing technology, and seeking expert guidance is essential. The report also highlights the significance of indirect rate and return on investment forecasting. It addresses challenges in timekeeping and billing for SMBs compared to larger revenue companies and advocates for the adoption of a formal capture process for federal proposals. (ibid)

Key Insights from the GAUGE Report

Here are some noteworthy findings from each of the GAUGE Report’s topic areas:

Government Contract Compliance

  • 51% of respondents reported stable government oversight, while 46% noted an increase in oversight in the past five years.
  • Indirect rates were identified as a common audit challenge for government contractors.
  • Business systems, particularly accounting systems, played a crucial role in winning solicitations. (ibid)


  • The most common days sales outstanding (DSO) range among respondents was 31 to 45 days.
  • Smaller GovCon firms had shorter invoice cycles.
  • Mergers and acquisitions remained active, with 36% of respondents prioritizing M&A in 2023. (ibid)


  • 61% of GovCon executives reported mature resource management disciplines.
  • Centralized project management offices (PMOs) gained popularity, reflecting the trend toward standardizing project management practices.
  • Projects were typically delivered on time and on budget. (ibid)


  • Personal relationships and market intel tools were the preferred avenues for discovering new opportunities.
  • Firms with a formalized capture/gate process had a competitive advantage in pursuing suitable opportunities. (ibid)


  • 41% of GovCons changed their indirect rate structure in the past 12 months.
  • Fluctuating indirect costs emerged as a challenge for many firms. (ibid)

Using the GAUGE Report Findings

Understanding the latest trends in your industry is valuable, but what’s next? To capitalize on this knowledge and enhance your business:

  1. Download and Review: Access the full 2023 GAUGE Report to gain in-depth insights that can serve as a roadmap to success. The report offers a wealth of data to inform your strategies. (ibid)
  2. Benchmark and Apply: Use the GAUGE Report for benchmarking against industry standards and applying best practices. This knowledge empowers your GovCon business to excel in various areas. (ibid)

Would you like to use insights from the GAUGE Report, to gain a competitive edge and achieve higher performance? Give us a call.

The Power of Small Businesses in Driving Government Innovation

Small businesses are more than just contractors for government agencies; they are the driving force behind innovation. While federal requirements mandate that a significant portion of contracts go to small businesses, their true value lies beyond meeting quotas. Small businesses bring agility, niche expertise, and a culture of innovation that can transform how government agencies operate. (Federal News Network September 4, 2023)

Innovation Sparks Progress

Small businesses, by their nature, thrive on innovation. They operate in highly competitive environments where differentiation is key to survival. This drive to innovate often leads to groundbreaking ideas that can revolutionize government operations. (ibid)

Consider how large disruptors like Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify revolutionized their respective industries. They didn’t just replicate existing services; they introduced entirely new approaches. Small businesses have the same potential to reshape government operations. (ibid)

Agility and Flexibility Matter

Small businesses are unburdened by bureaucratic red tape and the pressure of quarterly growth targets, that large corporations often must cope with. This freedom allows them to make quick decisions and engage in iterative development. Government agencies can leverage this agility to explore innovative ideas, respond rapidly to emerging needs, and adapt to changing technology requirements. (ibid)

Specialized Knowledge

Many small businesses focus on a single area, cultivating specialized expertise. This niche knowledge often results in groundbreaking solutions. Government agencies can harness this expertise through partnerships, driving transformative solutions and advancing their tech agendas. (ibid)

Cost-Efficiency and Value

Small businesses are often more cost-effective than large corporations. They operate with lower overheads and capital investments, making them suitable partners for government agencies with budgetary constraints. Small businesses provide innovative technology and services without imposing excessive financial burdens. (ibid)

The Path to Innovation

In the realm of IT communications, small businesses have driven breakthroughs that eventually found their way into federal agencies. Technologies like SD-WAN, which initially outperformed traditional MPLS, were adopted by small businesses before gaining momentum in federal agencies. These innovations often start in the commercial sector, proving their effectiveness before being embraced by government entities. (ibid)

Inviting Innovation

To become more innovative, government agencies should engage with small businesses actively. Listening to their ideas and embracing their culture of innovation provides agencies with a glimpse into the future. By recognizing the immense value that small businesses bring to the table, agencies can benefit from disruptive technologies rather than being disrupted by them. (ibid)

Innovation is not a matter of chance; it’s a deliberate choice. Government agencies can make this choice by fostering partnerships with small businesses, thus paving the way for transformative advancements.

Does your small business need guidance navigating the federal government arena? Give us a call.

SBA Halts New Applications for 8(a) Program: What You Need to Know

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has put a temporary hold on accepting new applications for the 8(a) small business program. This move comes in the aftermath of a significant court decision that found parts of the program unconstitutional. (Washington Technology August 21, 2003)

The crux of the matter lies in the SBA’s utilization of the “rebuttable presumption” process, which allowed many companies to be certified as small, disadvantaged businesses without substantiating their social disadvantage. However, a recent court case, involving Ultima Services, a non-8(a) company, challenged this process. The court ruled in favor of Ultima Services, asserting that the use of rebuttable presumption violated their Fifth Amendment rights. Consequently, the SBA has been compelled to halt the acceptance of new 8(a) program applications. (ibid)

If your company was certified through the rebuttable presumption process, there are specific actions you must take to continue in the 8(a) program. The newly released guidance requires affected businesses to submit a “Social Disadvantaged Narrative.” This narrative should encompass the identities forming the basis of your social disadvantage, detailed accounts of discriminatory incidents related to education, employment, or business history, including dates, locations, parties involved, conduct details, and motivations behind the bias or discrimination. You should also elucidate how these incidents impacted your business progression. (ibid)

Existing applicants can proceed with their applications, though additional information might be needed. For those already within the 8(a) program, the narrative submission is not obligatory if previously completed. (ibid)

SBA is closely collaborating with the Justice Department to chart the course ahead in response to this court decision. Despite the temporary suspension of new applications, the agency is working on directives for agencies to continue awarding contracts to 8(a) firms. (ibid)

Remember, this situation is evolving. A hearing on August 31st could bring about changes, and SBA’s forthcoming guidance for contract awards to 8(a) firms remains eagerly anticipated. Furthermore, it’s important to note that the court’s ruling doesn’t affect 8(a) firms owned by Alaska Native Corporations or tribally-owned entities. They can continue business as usual. (ibid)

Stay tuned for updates as this story unfolds, and ensure you’re up to speed on the latest developments in the 8(a) program landscape. Should you have questions concerning the newly released guidance requirements, give us a call.

Giving small minority owned businesses a fair shake

The Small Business Administration and the General Services Administration have launched an initiative to improve the identification of minority-owned contractors. The aim is to simplify the process for federal procurement officials to connect with small, disadvantaged businesses across sectors. As part of President Biden’s goal to direct $100 billion in expanded contracting opportunities to historically marginalized firms by 2025, the initiative focuses on increasing federal contracting opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs). (Nextgov May 30, 2023)

In the announcement released on May 25th, the General Services Administration and the Small Business Administration will establish a pool of SDBs participating in the 8(a) Business Development Program. This program will assist selected firms in gaining better access to federal contracts under the GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule Program. The SBA’s 8(a) program has proven successful in fostering partnerships between the government and SDBs while providing support to minority-owned businesses seeking federal contracts. (ibid)

The establishment of the pool of 8(a) firms aims to make it easier for procurement officials to locate and contract with small, disadvantaged businesses across industries. Historically, this has been a challenge due to a lack of centralized resources for identifying and engaging SDBs throughout the federal government. However, the May 25th announcement lacks details on acceptance requirements and the process for directing solicitations and contracting opportunities to the selected firms. Further information is yet to be provided by the SBA and GSA. (ibid)

The success of the initiative will depend on specific factors, according to Courtney Fairchild, president of the government contracting consulting company Global Services. Fairchild suggests that analyzing individual awards and the dollar value of aggregate awards through the pool will help determine the effectiveness of the effort. If successful, similar MAS Pools for Woman-Owned, HubZone, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses could be implemented to increase opportunities across all SBA-certified socio-economic groups. (ibid)

Experts recommend additional metrics for measuring the program’s effectiveness, such as the size and scope of available opportunities, the length of engagement, and the relevance of North American Industry Classification System codes. These metrics can help determine if the pool successfully recruits firms from a wide array of sectors. (ibid)

Whichever approach is taken to evaluate its success, the new program provides an opportunity to showcase the strengths, diversity of thoughts, and varied technological capabilities within the SDB community, according to Earl Stafford, CEO of Aperio Global, an SDB specializing in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence solutions. (ibid)

President Biden announced the plan in June 2021 to allocate $100 billion in federal contracting opportunities to SDBs over a five-year period, representing an almost 50% increase in set-asides for minority-owned businesses. Federal agencies seem on track to meet this goal after awarding $62.4 billion in federal contracts to SDBs last year, accounting for at least 11% of all federal contracting opportunities. The Office of Management and Budget has since raised contracting goals for all agencies and directed the SBA to award at least 12% of all federal contracts to SDBs in fiscal year 2023. (ibid)

Would you like to know more about the initiative to connect SDBs to federal agencies? Give us a call.

The SBA is serving our entrepreneurial veterans

Last Friday, the Small Business Association (SBA) announced that it would invest $3.5 million in grant funding to create veterans business outreach centers (VBOCs) in seven new locations, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, and South Carolina. The purpose of this investment is to expand entrepreneurial training and counseling services for veterans and military spouses who own and operate small businesses. (ExecutiveGov April 24, 2023)

The VBOCs will assist veteran-owned small business in various aspects such as business planning, loan application, marketing and outreach efforts. Additionally, grants will be set up to support Boots to Business classes to help active duty service members transition and determine whether entrepreneurship is a practical transition strategy.(ibid)

Isabella Casillas Guzman, administrator of the SBA, stated that “with this expansion of our veteran-focused network of small business centers, we can help more transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses start and grow their businesses and advance our economy.” (ibid)

Interested in grant funding for your veteran owned small business? Give us a call.