Selling to the Government in a digital world

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a major change in the way consumers make purchases. What was once a predominately in-person purchasing scenario has moved online. The Business to Government (B2G) segment has not moved as easily into the digital marketplace.

From a social media standpoint, government marketing spending is likely one of the lowest in the world. Therefore, it is not feasible for social media platforms to segment their offerings to accommodate B2G audience segmentation. LinkedIn however, is the one social media platform that does offer government-industry segmentation and programs, making it a powerful tool for those in the federal government acquisition arena.

Small and medium-sized contractors, however, should consider getting in on the ground floor of other social media outlets, before the digital environment begins to get crowded. When setting up your digital marketing plan, keep in mind the most used digital tools are search engine marketing, social media marketing, and programmatic marketing.

A procurement team or official might search for organization information such as past performance and proof of competence when evaluating bidders for requests for proposal compliance. As a contractor, this makes a contractor’s digital strategy extremely important.

The most effective B2G digital strategies include:

  • Consistent brand message across all social media platforms
  • Content compatible with SEO strategy.
  • Expanded or enhanced digital footprint/leverage content to stay “on brand.”
  • Powerful organic content – the original content copy and image posted on social media platforms.
  • Visibility – growth of followers by paid media within specific audiences.

Contractors’ digital content can bring their message to key influencers and decision-makers. Visibility during the RPF or RFQ phase is crucial, especially for small businesses and those on the ground floor looking to start or further their work with government agencies.

Digital strategy questions? Give us a call.

Cloud services bought “by the drink”

In May, Jeff Koses, GSA’s senior procurement executive, released a second draft policy allowing agencies to buy cloud services “by the drink”, via schedule contract. Koses includes in the draft, how the policy will work, the Price Reduction Clause, and how the funding works.

Koses said, “GSA anticipates purchasing cloud computing on a consumption basis will increase competition, as the move towards commercial practices will encourage new entrants to the FSS program. With a contract structure more closely tied to real-time demand, this approach also provides greater flexibility to take advantage of technology improvements and better support cybersecurity. Tying cloud computing procurements to commercial market prices will also provide cost transparency without burdening contractors with additional transactional price reporting requirements. Plus, this approach promotes cost efficiency as it reduces the need to lock into long term contracts in markets where falling prices are reasonably anticipated.”

Nick West, GSA’s deputy director of the Office of Policy, Integrity and Workforce said, “We hope the policy lays out a clear way to execute the pay by the drink execution strategy using the schedules. We hope to have some sort of language in the schedule contracts by the fall or maybe earlier, hopefully. We really are looking to build something that the IOs will use and [industry] will offer solutions for them to use.”

Keith Nakasone, who recently served as deputy assistant commissioner for acquisition in GSA’s Office of IT Category, feels the pay-by-the-drink model to the schedules allows the Federal Acquisition Service to develop special item number 518210C (previously 132-40).

The second and first draft memos differ slightly. The second draft memo directs agencies to buy off cloud service provider pricelists receiving discounts as prices change. This allows agencies to incrementally fund task orders for cloud services as opposed to putting all of the money on a specific contract at once. Although this doesn’t allow for heavy discounts upfront, it does mirror how private industry acquires cloud services.

The new policy will allow GSA to make it easier for agencies to buy cloud services. A long-time goal of the agency.  Have cloud services you want to get on schedule?  Give us a call.

 

 

GSA contracting just got a whole lot easier – well, maybe

This past May, the General Services (GSA) issued Refresh #6 to the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Program solicitation. The goal of Refresh #6 is to modernize and simplify the way contractors do business with the Federal Government. (SecurityInfowatch.com June 14, 2021)

Some of the most significant changes are:

  • Establishment of a Verified Products Portal (VPP). The VPP aims to keep vendors from unauthorized selling of products to the government, under the Federal Supply Schedule.  In most cases, manufacturers who did provide a Letter of Supply (LOS) to resellers will use the VPP as an alternative authorization. (The VPP will not replace GSA Advantage or the SIP program, see VPP@gsa.gov)
  • COVID-19 Waiver which creates a temporary waiver for some requirements of the GSA submission application for vendors who offer products or services supporting the government’s response to COVID-19. The two-year corporate experience requirement is waived.
  • MAS contract cancellation deferrals. This is extremely helpful to contractors who haven’t met the minimum sales requirements per the I-FSS-639 Contract Sales Criteria.
  • Consolidation of the GSA Schedules Program. GSA, by consolidating, hopes to eliminate duplication and standardize processes while at the same time updating terms and conditions. The original 25 GSA Schedules became one, with 12 large categories and 83 subcategories. Contractors may now add new SINs beyond their legacy SINs previously awarded. Current GSA contractors had their awarded SINs mapped to new SINs that correspond to NAICS Codes. (All integrators and contractors are advised to speak with their Contracting Officer to figure out the next steps for SINs from a different large category.)
  • Order Level Materials (OLM) SIN added across all categories. OLMs are acquired at the order level giving the contracting officer (OCO) responsibility for making a fair and reasonable price determination. OLMs are authorized for use in direct support of another awarded SIN, they are not Open Market Items.
  • Phase III of the MAS Consolidation requiring all current contractors to consolidate their contracts under one unique identifier  – Dunn & Bradstreet number. This gives contractors a single point of contact within GSA. GSA provides Modification Guidance with each refresh. Contractors should register for the GSA FAS ID and keep passwords up to date.
  • Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) will be issued to contractors in early 2022. This identifier will eliminate the usage of the Dunn & Bradstreet number as a contractor’s government identity. For contractors registered in SAM.gov, the process will take place automatically. (ibid)

GSA is making some major changes over the next 12 months to their GSA Schedules Program. However, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is not expected to be included in the MAS solicitation. Agency-specific requirements for technical certification will be outlined in each specific request for quotation. (ibid)

Are any or all of the above changes a little confusing? Give us a call.

 

 

 

Expected Growth in 2021 – Don’t miss out!

The federal government adapted to many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.  At the same time, government contractors were dealing with their own set of challenges. Declining margins and watching nearly 70% of projects that were ahead of schedule, fall behind in 2020. (Nextgov June 7, 2021)

The hardest hit were small business contractors. Their profit margins dropped nearly 35%, with costs to bid on contracts rising exponentially. (ibid)

With all the changes in 2020, government contractors still remain optimistic that government contracting will increase into 2021 and 2022. Vendors trust that the changes to government operations will prove beneficial, in the long run. Especially with remote workforces expanding the available talent pool since companies will no longer be limited to specific geographic areas. (ibid)

A recent study showed contractors in the federal information technology sector expecting significant growth in 2021. Additionally professional services and aerospace and defense expect large gains as well as state, with local and higher education spending growing too. (ibid)

The study also shows industry is focused on exploring new ways to do business in a more virtual world. In-person meetings and events are still rare, forcing companies to seek new business opportunities from their existing client base. Fewer companies rely on public bid notices such as those found on SAM.gov or industry events or conferences. (ibid)

Companies must acclimate to doing business in a virtual world. Many may find, the best use of their resources is no longer face-to-face meetings.  Working virtually may be the optimum use of their assets, going forward. (ibid)

Are you looking to benefit from the predicted growth trend? Give us a call.

 

What the new Minimum Wage Executive Order means

In late April, President Biden signed an executive order, requiring government contractors to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. Censeo Consulting Group analyzed the effect of the federal worker minimum wage increase. They determined that approximately 30,520 contracts will require modification. In addition, they expect the modifications to add 450,000 additional contracting office, workload hours. This equates to about 240 additional full-time positions. (ExecutiveGov May 27, 2021)

The executive order will impact federal spending from between $1 and $2 billion. Agencies can prepare by:

  • Segmenting contract portfolio by delivery location and spend category, highlighting impacted contracts
  • Developing a policy and process for addressing impacted contracts
  • Analyze internal pricing to identify contracts requiring modifications (ibid)

The departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, Agriculture, and State are most impacted by the executive order and are likely preparing to make their contract modifications on or before the 2022 deadline.

Do you need to modify your contract? Give us a call.