Prove your value to avoid the axe, contracting expert says

The Obama administration is serious about acquisition reforms and cutting out waste so contractors will feel the heat

Government contractors have to scrutinize their work so they stand out as valuable to their federal customers while agencies undergo their own internal scrutiny, an expert said today.

Obama administration officials have charged agencies with trimming 7 percent from their contracting budgets by Sept. 30, 2011, while beefing up their reporting on contractor performances.

That means fewer dollars for contractors and stricter adherence to budgets, Lauren Jones, Input’s principle analyst of market trends, said in a webinar on the effects of the Obama administration’s acquisition reforms on contractors.

As agencies take a closer look at how they work, contractors can expect the same scrutiny. They will get more oversight and will be required to hand over more information to officials. But companies shouldn't get defensive about it, Jones said.

Instead, she recommends companies first fortify their strongest relationships with agencies. They then should show they are partners with agency officials by being open and cooperative regarding the new demands. Businesses can also offer best practices that help agencies carry out their acquisitions more efficiently.

Companies should also shore up their performances on projects, especially in the professional services area. Jones said professional services will the most likely area from which agencies will insource jobs.

To stand out, businesses should examine their own internal operations. Jones suggests finding and fixing potential problems or poor operations that may be in areas like bid and proposal processes and reporting information to agencies.

Jones also said customer satisfaction surveys are a way of uncovering those problems.

Conduct the surveys, she said, “and really listen now to what’s being said. You may uncover gaps that left unaddressed could come back to bite you."

Contractors then should make the changes as they work with agency officials to show they are taking care of the issue.

Jones said the Obama administration has taken seriously acquisition reforms and cutting out waste. Contractors will feel it as the government becomes more stringent in its performance scrutiny and evaluations of outsourced work.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Reader Comments

Mon, Mar 1, 2010

Let's see here. We are cutting back on contracting performance by trimming contracting budgets but want to hire more acquisition workers. What am I missing here??

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 M Reston, VA

The Obama Administration is government at its worst. They subscribe to an ugly set of folklore and anecdote as their guiding principals. Then out into the night they scud with torches and pitchforks. They will burn some structures to the ground, ruin some people, accomplish nothing.

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