The top 3 biggest mistakes small and minority firms make in government contracting

The Unites States federal government is the world’s largest single buyer of products and services spending billions of dollars annually. And when the federal market procurement dollars are combined with State and local government agencies procurements then the overall government market is an ideal market for minority businesses to generate revenue and grow. This is especially the case with our tax dollars are involved and given the goals that government agencies have in making contract awards to small and minority businesses.

Many minority firms have enjoyed eating at the government procurement trough, but based on government agency data from all levels, a substantial number of minority firms are unsuccessful in government procurement and miss in winning contract awards. There are many cited causes for this contract award gap, but from my many years of being successful in winning government contracts and from my observations, below are the three biggest mistakes that minority firms make in government contracting.

  • Mistake #1: Not conducting research and learning about how to do business with a targeted government agency.
  • Mistake #2: Failing to attend pre-bid and pre-proposal meetings to build relationships.
  • Mistake #3: Not consistently marketing and staying top of mind with agency procurement staff.

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When it comes to winning contracts, small businesses need to think strategically

Ask any small-business chief executive competing in the federal market, and he or she will tell you that finding a niche within the competitive spectrum has become increasingly difficult.

 Some small businesses find themselves competing against larger businesses that have ventured into smaller contracts. With the Small Business Administration’s changes to business size standards in 2012, some small businesses also find themselves competing against much larger — but now small, by definition — businesses for set-asides.

Despite these challenges, the current government contracting environment encourages small-business participation. More than $51 billion in 2013 contract obligations went to small business via set-aside contracts, and although the total dollar figure is declining, the percentage of total obligations is increasing.

Small-business contracting continues to be a priority for contracting offices, which are under increasing scrutiny regarding small-business utilization. These offices have the burden of proof and must justify not using a set-aside for certain requirements. The Obama administration and Congress are also helping shape the path with policies that address small-business competition.

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June 19 webinar demonstrates use of federal data to establish marketing strategies

The SBA is hosting a webcast that will consist of a live demo of three primary federal market research tools to help identify potential contracting opportunities.

The webinar will demonstrate the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), FedBizOpps (FBO), and various publicly-available procurement forecasts published by federal agencies.

The one-hour webinar will be held on June 19 at 10:00 am EST.

To register, visit:

A call-in number and access code will be emailed to registrants prior to the scheduled webcast.

Companies seeking government contracts may turn attention to state and local markets

As competition for contracts with U.S. federal government agencies increases, companies that seek to maintain or increase their government sales may set their sights on states instead.

Indeed, this may already be happening: for one thing, more than 500 people attended the “How to Market to State Governments” conference held in March by the National Association of State Procurement Officials (“NASPO”), a record for the event.

While seeking new business opportunities is generally a good thing, contractors accustomed to the way things work at the federal level should understand that state-level procurements can be a very different game. Bid protests at the state level can be especially tricky, not only for disappointed bidders, but for awardees as well. Contractors should take certain proactive measures when participating in state-level procurements to secure their chances for award.

According to a 2012 NASPO survey, only six states had at that time completely adopted the Model Procurement Code developed by the American Bar Association.

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Government cuts cause contractor revenue losses and strategic changes

Sequestration forced revenue losses among almost two-thirds of contractors in 2013, according to a survey by two consulting firms released last week.

Almost 31 percent of the 220 firms that responded to the survey by Market Connections Inc. and Lohfeld Consulting Group Inc. said their revenue fell by more than 10 percent, while another 30 percent reported declines of nearly 10 percent.

In response to government market pressures, contractors are re-architecting by expanding into adjacent markets (45 percent), modifying lines of business (35 percent), and putting greater emphasis on the front-end of the life-cycle to improve capture strategies an

More contractors are pursuing new opportunities in state and local government, international markets, and energy in 2013 than in 2012. Pursuit of healthcare opportunities is still high on the list of new and adjacent markets contractors are pursuing:

  • State and local government: 48 percent in 2013 vs. 29 percent in 2012
  • Healthcare: 39 percent in 2013 vs. 38 percent in 2012
  • International markets: 36 percent in 2013 vs. 29 percent in 2012
  • Energy: 33 percent in 2013 vs. 20 percent in 2012

“It is clear that sequestration and the government shutdown have had a tremendous impact on the government contracting community,” said Lisa Dezzutti, president and CEO of Market Connections, Inc. “Contractors need to think outside the box, leverage their expertise in adjacent markets and focus on business development and capture strategies that will increase win rates.”

Contractors are making the following investments in the front-end of the lifecycle to enhance the business development and capture process and increase win probability:

  • Improving capture and proposal processes: 40 percent
  • Adding more business development/capture personnel: 39 percent
  • Enhancing capture and proposal tools and infrastructure: 28 percent
  • Increasing use of consulting services: 19 percent
  • Adding more technical personnel to support business acquisition: 15 percent
  • Adding personnel to write proposals: 12 percent

A full copy of the survey results can be downloaded at: 

New guidebook reveals how government and industry select small businesses

There’s a brand new resource available to you — free of charge — courtesy of the national community of procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs).

Braddock’s The Winning Edge: How Government and Corporate Buyers Select a Small Business Supplier – 2014 Edition is a practical guide designed for small to medium sized businesses that provides important insights into the decision-making process within the government and large corporations, with an emphasis on the evaluation and selection stages.

Topics include:

  • Overview of the government procurement process
  • How government procurement officers evaluate a small business supplier
  • How small businesses can identify and win subcontracting opportunities
  • Characteristics that corporate buyers are really looking for in a small business supplier
  • Next step resources

A special electronic edition of Braddock’s The Winning Edge is available at no charge to PTAC clients thanks to the generous support of Microsoft Corporation.  Download your free copy today by clicking right here.

We hope you find this resource useful.   As always, we at the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) stand ready to answer any questions you may have and help you take the next steps in your government contracting pursuits.

Tech’s Contracting Academy to teach cost & price course in October

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is offering a course focusing on the Fundamentals of Cost & Price Analysis in government contracting on October 14-25, 2013.

This comprehensive, two-week course begins with an in-depth review of the market research process, and provides instruction to help students understand and analyze contractor pricing strategies.

Attendees will learn to accomplish cost-volume-profit analysis, calculate contribution margin estimates, and develop cost estimating relationships in order to accomplish an effective price analysis pursuant to FAR Subpart 15.4.

After learning the basic elements of price and cost analysis, students will build and defend a pre-negotiation objective, including a minimum and maximum pricing objective with a weighted guidelines assessment. After successfully defending their pricing objectives, the students will practice face-to-face negotiations.

This course is targeted toward new hires to the contracting career field.   For government contractors, this course also provides invaluable insights into the government contracting decision-making process.

Student performance will be assessed by graded exams on math fundamentals and applied course material as well as an exercise for student participation and completion of negotiations.

CON 170 – Fundamentals of Cost & Price Analysis is Defense Acquisition University-equivalent training that satisfies the FAC-C and DAWIA certification programs.   In addition, 7.35 CEUs are granted for successful course completion.

For more information or to register, please visit:

New app takes government contracting mobile

The race to open up government data to the public is typically described in terms of creating better services for citizens and new opportunities for businesses and nonprofits.

The benefits of open data can sometimes show up closer to home, however, as demonstrated by the new mobile application hōrd, which allows government contractors to track project solicitations from their iPhones.

Hōrd was developed by the company GovTribe, founded by three former Deloitte consultants. The app allows users to search for federal contracting notices and awards using keywords. They can also search by a contractor’s name to keep tabs on what their competitors are up to.

App users can also “hōrd” a particular notice to receive alerts every time it’s updated.

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There’s growth in state and local contract spending

For those who specialize in work for state and local governments, it can be unsettling to read headlines announcing teacher layoffs in Chicago or bankruptcy in Detroit.

However, the big picture for local governments and school districts is looking much brighter.

Deltek’s growth forecast for state and local consumption of information technology goods and services improved this year to 3.2 percent, with the total market expected to grow from $58.5 billion in 2013 to $68.6 billion in 2018.

One of the best annual market indicators is a review of the governors’ State of the State addresses.

This year, we found governors restoring K-12 education funding and promising to rein in tuition at public universities.

Governors also called for innovative ways to reduce correctional spending and improve health care and social services. All of these goals must be supported by technology investments.

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Contract planning is Academy’s next course in July

Ever wondered how the Government plans its acquisition of products and services?

  • As a contractor, wouldn’t you like to gain insights into the process?
  • As a member of the acquisition team, don’t you need to learn how to conduct acquisition planning properly?

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech will address these questions, and much more, in a five-day class, “Contract Planning in the FAR” (CON090-2) to be presented July 8 – 12, 2013.

This in-depth course covers all aspects of acquisition planning, including how to conduct market research, how to describe buying needs, and the preference for the acquisition of commercial and non-developmental items.

This course is the second module in a series of four educational modules that examine the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the Government’s “procurement bible.”

  • For government contracting officers, this course is required to maintain a contracting warrant.   A warrant is a written document providing a contracting officer with the limits of his or her authority.   Per FAR 1.601-2, Contracting Officers have the authority to “enter into, administer, or terminate contracts and make related determinations and findings” to the extent of the authority delegated to them by their warrant.   Georgia Tech’s Contracting Education Academy offers a set of courses — each equivalent to Defense Acquisition University course standards — that help contractng officials maintain their warrants and enhance professional development.
  • For businesspeople who compete for and fulfill government contracts, Academy classes are equally pertinent.  Contractor personnel who attend Academy courses gain real-world knowledge about how government officials are trained to formulate and administer contracts.   Insights in these areas provide invaluable guidance pertinent to reaching greater success in competing for, winning, and fulfilling government contract work.

Georgia Tech offers the entire CON 090 course series in world-class facilities on its campus in midtown Atlanta.  From groups of 10 or more, Georgia Tech also brings any of its government contracting courses to the workplace.

For details on all classes, including the FAR Fundamentals course, please visit   To make arrangements for any of the courses to be taught at your place of work, email us at: or give us a call at 404-894-6109.