January 11, 2012 by cs
- People: The skills and experience of the people involved in creating proposals.
- Business acquisition process: Business acquisition maturity covering the five stages of business acquisition lifecycle.
- Tools: Proposal infrastructure and personal and productivity tools.
- Management decision-making: Qualification and bid decisions.
- Solution competitiveness: Competitive solution with good features and customer benefits.
- Proposal quality: Quality proposals that are always compliant, responsive and compelling.
- Winning culture: Winning culture with good work/life balance.
January 9, 2012 by cs
When considering how to enter the government marketplace, most business people first think about doing business directly with federal, state or local government agencies.
Contracting directly with a government entity involves many steps, and likely involves the requirement that you have years of established experience. In fact, there are many major considerations for doing government business as a prime contractor, including:
- Thorough knowledge of all applicable procurement regulations and laws.
- Registration in numerous vendor databases and keeping them up-to-date.
- Comprehensive market research to identify upcoming work.
- Skills necessary to analyze government solicitations, and then prepare detailed and responsive offers.
- Ability to secure bid, performance and payment bonds, if required.
- Ability to finance what may be a multi-million dollar job for at least 60-90 days until the first payment arrives.
- Established relationships with agency, including buyers and end-users.
- Track record of relevant experience.
If your business lacks the wherewithal to support all this, you may want to consider an alternative.
The Alternative to Doing Business Directly with the Government
For less experienced and smaller businesses, there may be a simpler, faster, and less burdensome way to break into the government market — subcontracting. The subcontracting route allows a company to do business with the government indirectly — through a prime contractor — on smaller pieces of work and involving fewer requirements. A subcontractor is answerable to a prime contractor, not the government, and the prime contractor is held responsible by the government for overall work performance.
Prime contractors are responsible for meeting all government contracting requirements. Primes must be able to finance the job, bond the job, and complete the job on schedule.
Primes also are held accountable for meeting any socio-economic small business goals associated with the contract. Because of this requirement, prime contractors working on government contracts are always looking for talented small businesses to meet their needs. For federal contracting, this involves small businesses that are owned and controlled by women, minorities and other disadvantaged groups, and veterans, including service disabled veterans. Small businesses located in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZones) also are preferred by prime contractors. Individual state and local governments also may have preference programs involving particular small business categories.
Relationships always matter, and relationships with prime contractors are no exception. Small firms seeking to do business with a large prime must develop a strategy to introduce themselves and inspire the large firm to award them a small job in order to establish a reputation. Most small firms who have satisfactorily performed work for a government prime contractor report that they have received repeat business.
Preparing To Be a Subcontractor
So, what are the starting points for pursuing the subcontracting path? Here are a few suggestions:
- Gain at least a general knowledge of the government marketplace.
- Identify any areas of the government market where you have particular insights.
- Look for work areas where you may fulfill a specialty requirement or a niche.
- Familiarize yourself with the government’s various small business preference programs and how you can qualify.
- Create and polish a presentation about your firm’s capabilities and strengths.
- Pitch your credentials to prime contractors.
The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) can help you with most of these steps. By attending GTPAC classes regularly, you’ll learn lots of details about the government market, how it works, and who the players are. We can identify all the small business preference programs and how you might qualify. GTPAC also can provide you with templates for presenting your experience and expertise. We also can identify successful government prime contractors and trade shows where you can meet them.
Help That’s Available
If subcontracting is the route for you, and you want to receive GTPAC’s assistance, we suggest you take the following steps:
- Attend our “Introduction to Government Contracting” class or our “Fundamentals to Working with the Government” briefing. By attending either one, you’ll learn the essentials of the government marketplace. Sign up for these at http://gtpac.ecenterdirect.com/Conferences.action.
- Sign-up and become a GTPAC client. You’ll learn how to do this by attending either of the seminars listed in step #1.
- Attend our class entitled “Subcontracting with Large Prime Contractors.” You’ll gain insights into the various types of partnering arrangements possible in government contracting and how to best position yourself.
- Make a commitment to continuous learning. Even subcontracting requires keeping yourself up-to-date with developments in the government marketplace. Attend GTPAC classes regularly, and consider professional education such as the courses available through The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech.
- Request a template from a GTPAC Counselor for putting together a “capabilities statement” on your company. Use this as a way for putting together an impressive presentation of your credentials. While you’re at it, ask for an “elevator speech” template so you can practice how to make an impressive introductory statement about yourself.
- Learn about small business preferences that may apply to you, by either attending periodic briefings GTPAC puts on about this subject or by attending instructional workshops conducted by the Small Business Administration and by state and local governments. Once you identify your potential qualifications, apply for appropriate certifications. GTPAC will not prepare certification applications, but our Counselors will be glad to offer you advice and counsel along the way.
- Stay alert to upcoming government-sponsored expos, trade shows, and other forums where you can meet and impress prime contractors. An ideal way to learn about such events is by regularly visiting the GTPAC website; our home page lists many upcoming government vendor events.
- Familiarize yourself with government small business specialists. These officials are housed inside each federal agency’s major offices, and there are many small business advocates with state and local government units, too. If a small business specialist is impressed with your capabilities, chances are they can arrange for a presentation of your credentials to prime contractors. You can learn more about small business specialists, their role, and how to identify them by clicking here.
- Research who’s winning government contracts. You can find tips for doing this at: http://gtpac.org/2010/06/three-tips-for-researching-contract-awardees-and-probable-bidders. Also, you’ll want to obtain lists of government prime contractors to contact. Each month, GTPAC compiles a list of all Georgia businesses that have been awarded federal contracts, and we publish various other government contract lists on our web site. (For example, details on the largest 2011 federal awardees appears here.) These are the the businesses you want to target for subcontracting possibilities.
GTPAC can help you become a successful government subcontractor. You may find that subcontracting is just the spot you want in the overall government marketplace. Or, you may find that subcontracting represents the “foot in the door” to moving on to prime contracting with the government.
© 2012, Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center, All Rights Reserved.
January 2, 2012 by cs
Government contractors beware: 2012 may be the year of the government audit.
Financial scrutiny of contractors is expected to rise as the government expands its auditing workforce and the contracting pie shrinks. Agencies are
coming under greater congressional scrutiny, and public pressure is mounting to ensure the taxpayer is getting the best deal.
One indicator came in a Nov.15 directive from Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob J. Lew, who ordered federal agencies to put more resources and emphasis into their suspension and disbarment programs.
Lew referenced a recent Government Accountability Office study which, he said, found that “more than half of the 10 agencies it [GAO] reviewed lacked the characteristics common among active and effective suspension and debarment programs: dedicated staff resources, well-developed internal guidance and processes for referring cases to officials for action.”
Government contractors have always faced an abundance of potential audits. The Defense Contract Audit Agency alone conducts several dozen
different types of audits, including: pre-award reviews; incurred cost examinations; purchasing system reviews; billing system reviews; disclosure statement reviews; and provisional rate reviews.
Moreover, the number of rules and procedures to follow is mind-numbing. The Federal Acquisition Regulation, which is comprised of more than 1,700 pages of rules and regulations, is just one set of federal regulations pertaining to government contracts.
While no two audits are the same, government auditors are likely to place a greater emphasis on internal controls during 2012.
They will review your stated policies and procedures to determine the strength of your control environment, then typically make a random selection of
transactions (for example, vendor invoices, employee time cards, travel vouchers) and scrutinize supporting documentation.
The auditors are looking to determine if the contractor’s policies and procedures were followed, approvals documented and internal controls enforced.
In addition, there are now many prospective government contracts that will be awarded only after rigorous assessments of the adequacy of the contractor’s
business systems and internal controls. Contractors now will simply pass or fail, rather than possibly passing with certain deficiencies. All deficiencies must be addressed successfully before the contractor’s system is deemed adequate, and the contract awarded.
Many companies now are being proactive, seeking a third party to make an initial assessment as to whether their systems can meet Defense Contract Audit
Agency requirements before being notified of a pending agency review. Such a review prior to bidding on a contract can provide the confidence to bid for all
types of government contracts without business system constraints.
By implementing corrective measures that might be identified during the review, contractors can improve overall operations while staying ahead of the
competition and helping ensure they will not be behind the DCAA eight ball.
Having the black mark of a failed government audit is a difficult position from which to recover, and amounts to a “scarlet A” in the world of government
contracting. But the moniker can be avoided with prudent planning and taking proactive measures to shore up your systems in advance.
As we go into 2012 and face whatever budgetary cuts the government may implement, positioning your company to take advantage of every opportunity is
more important than ever.
– Commentary by Michael Tinsley, founder and chief executive of NeoSystems, for The Washington Post – Dec. 25, 2011 at http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/a-new-year-of-heightened-scrutiny-for-government-contractors/2011/12/14/gIQAq7IUHP_story.html
December 22, 2011 by cs
Contrary to its name, marketing and communications company LeapFrog Solutions didn’t immediately leap into the government market.
That happened in 2002, when Lisa Martin’s company won three small consulting contracts from the Federal Railroad Administration, Voice of America and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Others modest government awards followed from the Secret Service, National Credit Union Administration and Office of the Currency.
Martin said she quickly realized that, like commercial entities, many federal agencies had websites that were not in sync with their mission statements. Also, activities such as direct mail, trade show appearances and ad campaigns also were disjointed because each operation was the responsibility of a different domain.
So for the government market, she said, “Our very ambitious goal was ‘make the message matter.’ Whether it was online, offline, we wanted to make the message consistent.”
LeapFrog’s big leap into the government arena began in 2008, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency set aside its marketing and communications contracting as a small-business award.
Following Hurricane Katrina and other ensuing natural disasters, FEMA managers in 2010 decided they needed a public campaign to publicize how citizens could protect their homes and possessions from flood damage through government-sponsored insurance.
FEMA then created the National Flood Insurance Program Integrated Marketing and Advertising and Public Services contract.
About 30 small businesses answered FEMA’s request for proposals, which included managing the agency website, its publications, direct mail, conference appearances and advertising.
“We’d been watching for [the RFP] for a while,” said Mark Nelson, LeapFrog’s business development and communications manager, who joined the company in 2010.
“Our challenge was putting together a strong proposal in response to the RFP and corralling all the [partner] elements,” he said. “For example, we don’t do large-scale media buying so that’s why we enlisted Spurrier Media Group out of Richmond.”
And although LeapFrog does some web design, it doesn’t do the more complex back-end coding that is required, so it brought in Blue Water Media as a partner.
This past March the LeapFrog-led team won the five-year, $75 million FEMA contract to publicize and market government-sponsored flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program.
The LeapFrog team of Blue Water Media and Spurrier Media Group also includes Bender Consulting Services Inc. and former incumbents ad agency JWT, once known as the J. Walter Thompson agency, and Ogilvy Public Relations.
Among other tasks, LeapFrog manages the FEMA website FloodSmart.gov and collates the data from the agency’s call center queries.
“If you go to FloodSmart.gov, you can type in your address it will show you what your [flood] risk level risk is and give you a ballpark figure of what a policy would cost,” Nelson explained.
“FEMA actually has done a really good job,” he said. “They’re in the process of redoing a lot of the flood maps around the country using more digital and interactive tools.” Martin’s team also is tasked with spreading the word about FEMA’s flood insurance assistance through trade shows and by disseminating information to local officials, insurance companies, contractors and others.
LeapFrog Solutions is leveraging its work with FEMA at other government assistance agencies including the Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Interior departments as well as the Office of Personnel Management.
“We’re also working at VA because of all the health care initiatives; also the military heath care system under DOD,” Martin said.
As a result of the FEMA award and its other government and commercial contracts, LeapFrog Solutions has grown to about 25 employees and the company, which began in Martin’s basement in 1996, will be moving into new, larger offices within the next few months.
“We’ve probably doubled [the staff] within the past two years,” she said. “As we’re growing, one of the things that we’re finding is that communications really need to be more and more refined.”
She said the advent of new social media and the growth of a tech-savvy government work force require companies like LeapFrog to be up on the latest technologies and be able to communicate their benefits. That includes keeping abreast of what the young generation of government workers wants and needs, she added.
At the same time, Martin sees health care initiatives becoming a big part of LeapFrog’s future.
“There’s a huge opportunity there,” she said, citing new opportunities at VA, HHS and NIH, where LeapFrog has secured a blanket purchase agreement.
But “it’s not enough just to be able to build and maintain a website. If you have a solution, you really have to show results,” she said. “When we go into an agency, we’re looking at what we can measure. What gets measured gets results.”
About the Author: David Hubler is senior editor of Washington Technology. This article was published Dec. 19, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2011/12/19/LeapFrog-FEMA-contract.aspx?s=wtdaily_201211&p=1.
December 20, 2011 by cs
The Department of Defense’s 2012 SBIR solicitation is now open and accepting proposals until January 11, 2012..
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) is a government program, coordinated by the Small Business Administration, in which 2.5 percent of the total extramural research budgets of all federal agencies with extramural research budgets in excess of $100 million are reserved for contracts or grants to small businesses. Annually, the SBIR budget represents more than $1 billion in research funds. Over half the awards are to firms with fewer than 25 people and a third to firms of fewer than 10. A fifth are minority or women-owned businesses. Historically, a quarter of the companies are first-time winners.
In addition, Congress established the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program in 1992. It is similar in structure to SBIR and funds cooperative research and development projects with small businesses in partnership with not-for profit research institutions (such as universities) to move research to the marketplace.
The SBIR/STTR Programs are structured in three phases. Phase I (project feasibility) determines the scientific, technical and commercial merit and feasibility of the ideas submitted. Phase II (project development to prototype) is the major research and development effort, funding the prototyping and demonstration of the most promising Phase I projects. Phase III (commercialization) is the ultimate goal of each SBIR/STTR effort and statute requires that Phase III work be funded by sources outside the SBIR/STTR Program.
During the solicitation period, communication between small businesses and topic authors is highly encouraged. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is not allowed during the Open period when DoD is accepting proposals for each solicitation. However, proposers may still submit written questions about solicitation topics through the SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS). In SITIS the questioner and respondent are anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the solicitation closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS during the Open solicitation period for questions and answers and other significant information relevant to their SBIR/STTR topics of interest.
Topics Search Engine: Visit the DoD Topic Search Tool to quickly and easily find topics by keyword across all DoD components participating in this solicitation.
- December 12, 2011 – Solicitation opens and DoD begins accepting proposals
- January 4, 2012 – SITIS closes to new questions
- January 11, 2012 – Solicitation closes to receipt of proposals at 6:00 AM EST
Complete details on DoD’s 2012 SBIR solicitation may be found at: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/solicitations/sbir20121/index.shtml.
To be added to the DoD SBIR List serv: ten.ribsdod.vrestsilnull@tsilribs.
December 20, 2011 by cs
In response to reader requests to count down the top 10 single federal contract awards, we bring you the biggest contracts of fiscal 2011 that were won by just one company.
In the countdown, we have one joint venture and one company that won three of the top 10 contracts.
There also are five contracts worth over $1 billion each. It’s hard to have a bad year if you capture one of those all to yourself.
Washington Technology created the countdown based on research provided by Deltek.
So starting with No. 10, the 2011 countdown begins….
10. Boeing Co.
Army Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System
Value: $323 million
Purpose: The Army is using the contract to develop a government-owned, contractor-operated manned aerial reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition system that will be deployed worldwide.
9. Noblis Inc.
FAA Enterprise Communications Support Services Full and Open
Value: $350.2 million
Purpose: Noblis is providing support services to the FAA’s Air Traffic Control Communications Services Directorate. Tasks involve systems engineering, acquisition and program management support, operations management and support, business and financial management, information systems development and support, and studies, analysis and evaluations.
8. Lockheed Martin Corp.
Navy Joint Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare Technologies
AKA: JCREW 3.3
Value: $455 million
Purpose: Lockheed Martin is supporting the development and demonstration of technologies to improve work on improvised explosive devices. Services include antennas, receivers and transmitters, signal generation, communications equipment, scalable open architectures, and other technical services.
7. Science Applications International Corp.
Defense Logistics Agency Tire Successor Initiative
Value: $725.5 million
Purpose: SAIC manages the supply chain and materiel support for the government’s aircraft and ground tires. The company will be involved in demand planning and forecasting, order processing and fulfillment, purchasing, inventory management and other services.
6. Lockheed Martin Corp.
Navy Technology Insertion Hardware
AKA: TI Hardware
Value: $758.2 million
Purpose: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors is providing program management, engineering, design, development, logistics and other support for the Team Submarine Common Production Hardware project. The project involves the continuous evolution of display, processor and network systems associated with Navy combat control, sonar and imaging systems.
5. Orbital Sciences Corp.
Missile Defense Agency Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile Target Class
Value: $1.1 billion
Purpose: Orbital is providing logistics support to the Missile Defense Agency including inventory storage and maintenance management, pre- and post mission analysis, launch preparation and execution and engineering services.
4. Forfeiture Support
Drug Enforcement Administration Asset Forfeiture Program Administrative Support Services
Value: $1.7 billion
Purpose: FSA, a joint venture of L-3 and Aecom Government Services, provides administrative support for the government asset forfeiture program. Services include personnel management and supervision, recruitment and retention, training, data analysis, legal process support analysis, and other services.
3. QinetiQ Group
NASA Kennedy Space Center Engineering Services Contract
Value: $2 billion
Purpose: QinetiQ provides a variety of services such as development of ground support systems, processing launch vehicles and payloads, flight systems sustaining engineering, ground systems engineering and other technical services.
2. Lockheed Martin Corp.
Navy Acoustic Rapid Commercial Off the Shelf Insertion
Value: $2.1 billion
Purpose: Lockheed is supporting the Naval Sea Systems Command integrate a sonar system that integrates and improves towed array, hull array, sphere array, and other ship sensor processing. The work includes the rapid insertion of COTS based hardware and software.
And the largest contract of fiscal 2011 went to….
1. Hewlett-Packard Co.
NASA Agency Consolidated End User Services
AKA: I3P ACES
Value: $2.5 billion
Purpose: NASA has hired HP to consolidate management of end-user services, devices and products. Services include a customer contract center, email, calendaring, systems administration, and integrated hardware and software maintenance.
About the Author: Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Published Dec. 14, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2011/12/14/top-single-award-contracts-2011.aspx?s=wtdaily_151211&Page=4.
December 9, 2011 by cs
According to information recently posted on the federal government’s vendor database, Central Contractor Registration, there are recent reports that businesses are receiving fraudulent letters appearing to be from Equifax. These letters request that current or potential contractors register by submitting their company’s financial information on a release form entitled, “Authorization to release financial information.” An exerpt from the letter:
The fraudulent message goes on to request that you provide the name of your financial institution and account number via fax.
Please be advised that this letter is a scam and not from Equifax.
Other versions of this letter have been sent out to businesses purporting to be from the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as from other companies. These letters are a fraudulent means to obtain financial information and acxcess to your bank accounts. Please ignore any such letters.
If you have responded to this fraudulent letter, contact your financial institution immediately to secure your accounts.
December 8, 2011 by cs
There’s a good reason Vangent was named government contractor of the year at the 9th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Award gala.
Vangent delivered great results and had a strong brand. Over its fifty plus year history, the Vangent brand grew from a small business unit of NCS, to a $90 million operating division of Pearson PLC, to a $700+ million stand-alone company owned by Veritas Capital that was ultimately acquired by General Dynamics for $960 million on Sept. 30, 2011.
My paramount focus for Vangent’s brand over the past four and a half years was to grow awareness and recognition as a powerful, effective and reliable partner for federal government agencies seeking a services provider to support and answer questions about broad-reaching government programs. These programs included Medicare, military health care, disease control and prevention, student loans and Cash for Clunkers, to name a few.
In today’s government services market, where lowest price and technically acceptable often trumps best value and best solution, and where companies big and small, old and new, are jockeying for a slice of dwindling federal dollars amid an austere budget environment, an effective branding strategy is critical to a company’s success.
Vangent’s growth and market strength were the result of great customer service but also a strong focus on brand value, both internally and externally. Without a strong brand, many government services providers look exactly alike. With a solid and recognizable brand, a government services provider can come to stand for something valuable and important for its employees, customers, investors and the citizenry it serves.
Here are five rules of branding I practiced at Vangent which are essential for any company looking to enter the government services market, expand their market share or to re-position for new growth opportunities:
1) Focus on outcomes, not offerings. You can put a marketing brochure or a website of Company A next to Company B and cover up the names and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Many companies feel compelled to list every capability or skill they offer in a ‘laundry list’ fashion without any context as to what problem or challenge they help their customers overcome. A much more compelling way to communicate what a company does differently is to promote the outcomes or results it accomplishes for its customers – in plain English. Vangent built a successful branding campaign on the fact that “four out of ten Americans connect with Vangent, but never know it.” We combined this powerful and memorable factoid with a unique result it helped its customers accomplish. One example was how Vangent helped a customer enable better information sharing among multiple agencies which saved time and money – reducing processing time from eight months to just one day and shaving 30 percent in operating costs. Using that kind of differentiator will make your company stick out from the rest of the pack and allow you to stake claim to a result which you can build your brand around.
2) Equip your employees with the tools they need to be effective brand communicators. In the government contracting world, employees are your most valuable brand ambassadors. But the reality is that most employees who work for government services providers can barely recite their company’s mission or vision statements, let alone their menu of service offerings. The reason is simple: Mission statements too often are too long and full of over-used industry jargon. Make it easy for your employees by giving them the tools they need to not only memorize the meaning or essence of your company’s brand, but to internalize the brand so that they can effectively explain what your company’s brand represents. When Pearson Government Solutions was rebranded as Vangent in 2007, it created a “brand playbook” given to every employee and helped them understand the importance of branding, the words to describe Vangent’s brand and examples or “proof points” that helped them explain what Vangent’s brand represents. The brand playbook was an essential part of Vangent’s on-boarding program for new employees and was reinforced with a short and impactful video shown to all employees.
3) Create an emotional feeling about your brand. It’s OK, really! Companies marketing products we buy and use every day are masters at creating an emotional connection with consumers. They want you to feel good about buying and using their product. That’s why today’s consumer marketing focuses on how you feel versus how much the product costs or whether you need it. Why can’t we apply that same rule to the government services market? Vangent showcased its experts and thought leaders on video in a series of conversations about some of the most pressing challenges facing its customers. What’s the point in keeping their faces and thoughts hiding behind nondescript bios or ho-hum descriptions of your company’s services? Bring your company to life and create an emotional connection with your target audiences by storytelling. Showcase your company’s talent in rich content, quality photos and compelling videos. You’ll offer your customers, teaming partners and new recruits a glimpse into your company before they‘ve had the chance to meet you in person.
4) Your brand is your culture and culture trumps strategy any day. The first question asked by any new employee is about the company’s culture, not about the company’s strategy. They’ll want to know what it’s like to work at your company, what the environment is like and the opportunities to advance their careers. Many companies in the government services industry struggle in communicating their company culture and instead give employees lists of customers, names of contract vehicles and a list of company locations. Does that really answer an employee’s need to understand the company culture? Hardly. Vangent focused on its six core values and one in particular: We do meaningful work. Employees understood the impact they had on the lives of millions of people every day. This powerful value permeated throughout the company in employee communications, external communications in the forms of media relations, investor relations and marketing and recruiting campaigns.
5) Invest in your company’s brand – no matter how much – and don’t be ashamed about it. The old saying “don’t be penny wise and pound foolish” certainly rings true today in the government services industry where pressure on top and bottom line growth has squeezed out marketing, communications, advertising and branding budgets. During an era of dwindling resources in the federal government where blatant promotion is frowned upon, how do you distinguish your company and justify precious resources? In a down economy like the one we’re experiencing today, it’s more important than ever to up your game and take advantage of new and inexpensive ways to showcase your company. At Vangent, I implemented an integrated marketing program which focused on valuable content and compelling videos. I also used social media tools including Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to drive Vangent’s brand directly to the audiences it aimed to reach. Vangent’s powerful messaging platform was on display at industry events, conferences and trade shows.
Yes, employees, customers and investors do notice which companies have got it going on and which companies are stuck in the past.
About the Author: Eileen Cassidy Rivera is former vice president of communications and investor relations at Vangent, a General Dynamics company. In December, she joined KeeganSilver as senior health marketing strategist supporting Booz Allen Hamilton. This article was published by Washington Technology on Dec. 1, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/12/01/marketing-tips-government-market.aspx?s=wtdaily_021211.
November 23, 2011 by cs
Earlier this month, I was sitting on a stage with several government technology leaders, when one of them said something that cut through the usual noise.
“If you don’t do right by the people involved, the whole thing will fall on its face.”
The speaker was David Wennergren, the assistant deputy chief management officer for the Department of Defense. His point is relevant to all of us, both in government and industry.
It’s easy for us to focus on the numbers and the technologies. We wring our hands about where the money will come from to finish out the quarter, how to navigate budget cutbacks and still grow our businesses, and how to get a foot in the door with an agency. In the process, we can neglect the human dimension of the complementary challenges the government faces.
The buyer on the other side of the table, after all, is in a difficult place too. For government acquisition professionals, it’s not terribly difficult to make mistakes. They can accidentally spend in advance of appropriations, task the contractor to perform unauthorized work, inject bias into a source selection decision – the list is as long as your arm. Then there’s the additional stress of working within a risk-averse, rule-bound culture that limits options on a daily basis.
The acquisition workforce faces a tougher job today just a few years ago. With the chronic delays in congressional appropriations, these federal employees are now finding themselves halfway through the fiscal year and still uncertain about what funding they might receive and whether there will be any strings attached. As a program manager in the commercial world, you’d be frustrated.
There’s an old saying: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over again?”
An over-extended government acquisition workforce, short on qualified professionals, doesn’t always have time for either.
The best business leaders in our industry understand this. They work to help keep government acquisition professionals from getting in a bind. They know that if their government customer makes a mistake, it falls partially on the contractors’ shoulders.
Keep quiet when you know about a tactic that customers could use to solve their problems and you deny the taxpayer an efficient solution, limit the agency’s resources, and — consequently — limit your own opportunity to grow.
That’s why, increasingly, I think the key to success in our industry will be the people skills necessary to have a constructive conversation with an acquisition professional. It’s not an easy thing to do, and it requires a particular skill set. At the heart of it is an intimate knowledge of the world she works in. So study the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the financing rules. Attend events where people like Wennergren explain their challenges. Sit down with the customer and offer a new approach to s a program. Few contractors do these things.
But those who do find a receptive audience. During my time as a federal procurement official, I saw contracting officers with 15 years or more of experience approach me with a solution to a problem that they wanted to explore, courtesy of a contractor. Risk-averse culture or not, their minds could be expanded.
The lesson here is simple. When you see a way forward, pick up the phone. Coach them, guide them honestly and objectively. “Do right by the people involved.” Together you’ll find the solution.
– by Ray Bjorklund, Chief Knowledge Officer, Deltek – published by the Washington Business Journal – November 22, 2011 at http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2011/11/the-human-dimesion-to-federal.html.