March Madness in Federal Government

So much for our brackets (okay, Va Tech was a long shot, but what the heck UVA?), we’re extending our musings on a few bouts of madness that we’ve observed this year within the government.

  • Budget – Everything about it is broken. Everything. The Continuing Resolutions. The riders for pet projects. The need to “use or lose” all the funding. The complete lack of accountability for your actions. I must believe that most agencies would agree. Yet, where is the call for actual, real reform? We beat our chests every time we get close to a government shutdown, but otherwise, there is no discussion on making real changes to the process. Industry can provide suggestions, but this is fundamentally government responsibility impacting all Americans. Fix this aspect of government and there is a waterfall impact that positively impacts the economy. Come up with a better budgeting process.

 

  • RFPs – While absolutely no one enjoys writing an RFP, nor responding to one, having a clearly articulated RFP with transparency regarding your agency’s needs is critical. With clarity, the industry can provide their best solution at their best price in response.  Imagine the source selection team reading qualified, thoughtful solutions. The government wins. Spend time pre-RFP to talk to the industry and tailor your RFP to meet your needs. It’s not illegal…it’s encouraged!

 

  • Same Old Contractors, Same Old Solutions – I completely understand that we all have our favorites, but ask yourself, has your favorite really helped your agency move the ball or are they just checking time? Instead of going to your old standby or short list, how about giving a new player a chance? How often have you sole-sourced something as a check in the box without really looking to see if there are other players in the industry who can meet the need? Have you looked beyond the three same contractors who respond to your RFP? Outreach is not hard and it serves the agency to have fresh blood in the mix. Expand your network and reach.

 

  • Responsibility. We get that as for-profit contractors, we are often viewed as beltway bandits.  In reality, many are small businesses trying to make a difference. Holding up contract mods with funding or approving invoices in the billing system has a direct impact on our business.  What seems like a mundane task is one of the most important for a small GovCons. We operate on thin margins and don’t have the cash to float months of payroll. Process the paperwork in a timely fashion.

As a government official, you have a lot of responsibility – not only to your agency but to the taxpayer. Taking the above into consideration benefits all of us in the ecosystem.

They say madness gets worse before it gets better, but how much worse are we willing to stomach? If each of us does our part to make the RFP process, solution options and budget shortfalls our responsibility, maybe, just maybe there will be a slice of pie for all of us! We all have our own bouts of madness and we’ve been happy to shine a light on ours. Where do you find madness in GovCon and more importantly, what do you propose we do to find a solution?