I’m happy to announce that our newest Insider Report, which focuses on technology buying trends for the coming year, is now available.
For our report, 2014 Trends in Government Purchasing, we surveyed a wide range of buyers to gain insights into what agencies are likely to purchase in the coming year. We look at cybersecurity, infrastructure, mobility and other areas.
The nitty-gritty details are in the report and are available to members of our Washington Technology Insider program. This is the third research report we have published in the last seven months. These exclusive reports are one of the prime benefits of membership. More are on the way this year, as well. Click here to join.
That’s my sales pitch.
I wanted to share a few conclusions from the report, the biggest being how your customers see IT as critical to their daily operations and to completing their agency’s mission.
The report explores buying plans in areas such as mobility, cloud computing, hardware, software, storage and networking, but the results in the report also make it loud and clear that customers don’t really care what you are selling.
So, what do they care about?
- Delivering what you promise
It doesn’t matter what you sell as long as you are helping your customers meet their goals. And, of course, in today’s environment, those goals are both mission-focused and budget-focused.
Our Insider Report also explores some of the limitations your customers face in today’s market. The challenges they face in how they can interact with industry is something you have to keep in mind as you develop your go-to-market strategies.
Bottom line: Customer intimacy has never been more critical.
As we say in our conclusion: Success in today’s market is predicated on understanding not only what your customers plan to buy, but also how those purchases address their underlying needs and mission requirements.
Our Insider Report can be an important tool in meeting your customer needs. And, as always, I look forward to your feedback.
Posted on Jan 30, 2014 at 3:09 PM0 comments
The big line I’m seeing from President Obama’s state of the union address is the words: If you won’t, I will.
That’s the president’s message to Congress: If you won’t act on issues, I will.
The president got an early jump on that promise by announcing that he would sign an executive order ahead of the address that would raise the minimum wage for contractors to $10.10 an hour.
While the real impact among the IT, professional services and other high-tech companies that read Washington Technology is minimal, there are still several factors to look at.
The president wants to raise the minimum for all workers from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 by 2015. The move is part of the administration’s push to lower the number of people leaving in poverty. But without help from Congress, he can’t do it.
So, the executive order addresses the one part of the labor force that he does have some control over, and that’s government contractors.
It’s political theater because the vast majority of contract workers are already making more than $10 an hour. The Professional Services Council also was quick to point out that existing laws such as the Service Contract Act already give the Labor Department the power dictate wages.
But the president wants to send a concrete message to Congress that he’s going to do as much as he can with or without them to advance his agenda.
That’s what president’s do. This isn’t a Democratic thing or a Republican thing. It’s a president versus congress thing.
I get that, but it’s unfortunate that contractors are being singled out. There is already enough anti-contractor sentiment going around right now; some is justified, but a lot isn't.
It’s a perception thing. “We are deeply concerned with any implication that federal contractors are paying substandard wages,” PSC President Stan Soloway said in a statement.
At times, it seems that contractors have become convenient whipping boys for multiple ills.
There also concerns about how the executive order will be implemented. PSC says they have been assured that there will be input from all stakeholders. Hopefully, that will be the case.
While I’m confident that most of our readers will not feel this executive order directly, it still puts contractors front and center in a national debate. We’ll have to pay attention to how this rolls out.
Posted on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:14 PM0 comments
The bid protest battle between SRA International and Computer Sciences Corp. for a $365 million contract with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has moved from the Government Accountability Office to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and now back to GAO.
Of course, from GAO, it will go back to federal court for a final disposition. Maybe.
SRA has been providing infrastructure support to FDIC since at least 2009 through a task order under the General Services Administration’s Millennia contract.
In 2012, GSA used Alliant for the recompete, and CSC won that competition. SRA protested, and GSA pulled the award back.
That was at the end of 2012. After a series of amendments and corrective actions, GSA again awarded the work to CSC in August 2013.
During its debrief, however, SRA learned that Blue Canopy Group was CSC teammate.
SRA cried foul because Blue Canopy worked under a FDIC contract conducting security audits of SRA’s network security, which SRA said gave it access to SRA’s propriety information and knew of how FDIC evaluated SRA’s work.
Following this protest, GSA said that Blue Canopy was no longer part of the CSC team. This satisfied SRA’s concern about impaired objectivity, but not the unequal access to information charge.
GAO then ruled against SRA because the conflict of interest charge was resolved. SRA followed that action with a filing in the Court of Federal Claims, which brings us to where we are now.
There are some questions over whether the Court of Federal Claims has jurisdiction in the case because in most circumstances, the task order decisions cannot be appealed to the court.
The court wants GAO to relook at the conflict of interest waiver it made in this case and issue an advisory opinion, which the court will use to help make its final decision.
The court did set a deadline of Jan. 23 for GAO’s opinion, but GAO asked for another week and won’t file until the end of January.
It’ll be a little longer before we know the content of that advisory, as GAO will not publish it, and will only be releasing it to the judge and the parties involved. We’ll likely have to wait until court issues its final decision.
This will be a good one to watch for several reasons. First, there is a possibility that the jurisdiction question may point to whether the court is open to looking at more protests involving task orders. It's possible that there will be no impact, but there is that chance.
Also, this is a great example of how hard companies are fighting to hold on to work. For SRA, this contract is their biggest. When the contract was first lost, it represented 9 percent of its revenue. The company warned of layoffs.
SRA has continued to provide services while the contract has been under protest, so the revenue hit hasn’t happened yet.
The cynic in me says that’s part of the protest strategy: protest in hopes of squeezing more time and revenue out of a contract.
In SRA’s case, the conflict of interest question is important. It goes to teaming decisions, and how you try to get the upper hand on your competitors.
What the court says or doesn’t say about that could have a widely felt impact. We’ll have to wait and see.
Posted on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:01 AM0 comments