Preparing your Small Business for Sequester Survival
The federal government will cut about 17% of its average yearly contract spending of $500 million due to sequestration. Although the $85 billion cuts in spending are unavoidable at this point, the government will not cease to purchase its day-to-day functional services and products, and Fed Biz Opps (FBO.gov), the single government point-of-entry for federal government procurement opportunities over $25,000, will not stop posting bid opportunities to be fulfilled within this year and years to come.
According to Bloomberg Government, only one half of the cuts will happen immediately because the government is operating with half a year’s funding under a stopgap spending bill know as continuing resolutions. The other half will be deducted once the government receives funding for the remainder of FY 2013. Defense spending will be cut by 7.3%; civilian agencies by 5.3% and Medicare by 2%. The Department of Veterans Affairs will not receive cuts, but some of the veterans’ healthcare programs may be reduced.
In this environment of belt tightening, it’s critical for small business leaders to form teams to maximize the resources and help agencies achieve its contract requirements not affected by sequestration. Have you noticed that mostly all of the agencies have posted their procurement forecasts? Due to recent push from the Small Business Administration (SBA), agencies have posted their contractual requirements via individual agency forecasts (acquisition.gov). A savvy and well prepared business owner might do the following:
- Research an agency’s products and servics via the procurement forecast
- Contact the contracting official listed as a point of contact to verify funding and obtain timely updates
- If there are capabilities to perform some or most of the work, seek other small businesses as teaming partners to help create a winning capability statement based on the agency’s requirements
- Make an appointment with the agency’s small business specialists and copy them on your correspondence to the contracting officer
- Build a marketing plan and visit the agency to pitch the capabilities to perform and help said agency fulfill its particular requirements
- Follow up, follow up, and follow up some more – persistence is the path towards success. Remember you are not the only business pitching this requirement.
Other essentials to keep in mind as you bid on available opportunities:
- Review the fundable expenditures on each of your targeted agency’s procurement forecasts by regularly visiting Acquisition.gov. The SBA pushed all agencies to post their procurement forecast by Feb 1st.
- Opportunities will continue for small businesses so search on FBO.gov for “sources sought” notices, which are synopses posted by agencies that state they are seeking possible sources for a project. Although they are not solicitations for work or even requests for proposal, “sources sought” notices present a great opportunity for you to call attention to your firm’s capabilities. Part of an agency’s market research, responses are used to justify set-aside requirements.
- Now more than ever leverage all of your key relationships – from agency OSDBU offices, existing government customers to teaming partners. Communicate with agency OSDBU offices as they will know any new changes to purchasing priorities. Tap your existing customers and teaming partners and remind them that your company is available and ready to respond to any new opportunities.
- Aggressively market your existing contract vehicles to agencies. The use of GSA Schedules or other existing contract vehicles for acquisitions are especially attractive to agencies given their presumption of competition, the thoroughness of vendor vetting, their ease of use and expedited processes.
- Use your small business status and any special certifications that you may have, such as 8(a), Service-Disabled Veteran, Woman-Owned or HUBZone, to seek prime and/or teaming contract opportunities. Agencies must continue to award opportunities to small businesses and aim to achieve their various small business contracting goals, regardless of the sequestration.
- Watch out for agency Industry Days and other free events hosted by American Express OPEN’s Victory in Procurement program. Agency Industry Days are small events hosted by an agency’s OSDBUs to help facilitate viable small businesses having the capabilities to fulfill its open and/or upcoming contracts. These Industry Days offer a wealth of upcoming (low-hanging fruit) contracts while helping the agency meet their procurement small business and socio-economic goals. Industry Days are posted on FBO.gov as “special notices” and are free, offering a fantastic opportunity to meet teaming partners, small and large, and to bid on short upcoming opportunities. For events hosted by American Express OPEN, visit the VIP events page to stay updated on 2013 dates and locations.
Prepare your teaming partners and be persistent, innovative and always offer your products and services with the upmost quality to your government customer. Even though funding may be shorter this year, the government will continue to purchase and function. Don’t panic, stay focused, and your efforts will pay off.
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