COVID-19 Resources

Government Contracting News: March Edition One

Written on March 9, 2020

Coronavirus Starting to Impact Federal Business

Although the Coronavirus has spread to New York, Seattle, and other major metropolitan areas, there has yet to be a confirmed case in the Washington, D.C. area. The Department of Defense is taking no chances, and recently announced that it is restricting base access, travel and exercises in response to the virus. The Department of Homeland Security has closed at least one Washington state facility. Other agencies may follow suit. There is no central policy from the Office of Personnel Management, but contractors and their customers must look at these developments as creating a market that is something other than “business as usual.”

Most government agencies are still open for work and new opportunities are developing for contractors. As situations at specific agency locations may change, contractors should check in with their customers to see what the status of their office is. In-person meetings may have to be moved to teleconferences or webinars.

The Department of Health and Human Services is already re-programming more than $135 million to spend on virus prevention, vaccination and other healthcare-related actions. The Administration has requested $125 billion in new spending. Every company from pharmaceutical firms, to mask suppliers, data analytics companies and organizational experts may see an increase in demand for products and services—so long as their supply lines haven’t been overly impacted by the virus’ spread in other countries.

A common-sense approach is likely the best one for contractors. Take proper precautions. Anticipate smaller crowds at events and perhaps some decrease in the pace of business. See the story here for more.

Impact of HHS’ Closure of Program Support Center Still Being Felt

The sudden decision to close the Program Support Center (PSC) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last year is still having a negative impact on government and industry. More than $1 billion in contracts are at risk, with agencies unable to get answers about where obligated work is in the pipeline and contractors not getting paid. Assisted acquisition service organizations, such as PSC had been when it was operational, are a popular way for contractors and agencies to often receive complex procurements done by specially-focused acquisition and program management experts. An agency will typically turn to these fee-for-service organizations, housed in several federal agencies, for special projects or when their internal acquisition resources are focused on other obligations. Contractors typically like assisted acquisition service organizations, as well, because they conduct acquisitions in a timely manner and usually have experience in specific areas, making the process streamlined. The PSC was a smaller assisted acquisition organization than many of those operated out of GSA regions or by the Department of Interior’s Interior Business Center. It had a positive reputation, though, for working on smaller or mid-size projects, particularly in IT. Some industry professionals believe that the shutdown was political in nature. Regardless of the reason, contractors should exercise caution when recommending an assisted acquisition solution to their federal clients. Long-time contractors know that issues with assisted acquisitions do occasionally occur. Make this a part of your market research. Check out the story for more information.

DOD’s New Adaptive Acquisition Framework Means No More One Size Fits All Approach

The Department of Defense (DOD) is implementing its new Adaptive Acquisition Framework this year. Over the next several months the department will issue eight new overarching policies that will guide acquisitions on everything from service to software to defense business systems and more. New interim guidance, in fact, is already out on software acquisition. The goal of these new directives is to empower acquisition and program officials in DOD to use the best acquisition approach for what they are buying. At least one DOD official pointed out that every program manager in the agency is trained on how to buy a submarine, but that almost no one buys submarines. For services, new directives will be largely targeted on how to buy varying “as a service” offerings. All service acquisition guidance is being re-written. DOD is bringing in two new people to assist specifically in this area. In addition to flexibility, the intent of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework is to protect the defense industrial base. Interestingly, no mention is being made of whether, or to what extent, these changes were influenced by the Section 809 panel acquisition reform effort. The new changes are expected out prior to the end of the calendar year. Contractors should be familiar with the new frameworks and how to work with their customers to take advantage of the intended flexibilities. The policies and other information, can be found here.

Does Your Business Strategy Match Your Compliance Strategy?

Successful companies build strategies and execute business plans designed to expand their federal footprint. It would be bad, though, if a government agency came in and took some of that money away, though, right? That’s just what happens to companies that focus only on growth and not on ensuring contract compliance. Smart contractors have strategic plans for both business growth and contract compliance. When was the last time your company had mandatory training on the do’s and don’ts of federal business? What is the process for handling an internal complaint or question? Your company is at risk if you answered “I don’t know” to either of these questions. Some companies play the odds and believe they won’t get audited. Most compliance cases are filed by whistleblowers; either disgruntled employees or competitors. There are also professional whistleblowers and, while their claims might be less substantial, your company will still have to invest in legal and other outside help to defend itself. That’s costly and a huge distraction. Compliance programs are like an extra-strength flu shot. They can keep you from getting sick and make any incident less harmful. Like flu shots, compliance programs are comparatively less expensive than getting the flu and don’t tie up nearly as much time as an audit or investigation can when you’re not prepared. Investing in business growth and compliance saves your company time and ensures that you will keep more of the money you make.

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