Russell Smith

COMMENTARY

How to thrive under the Biden administration

In government contracting, there is always uncertainty when a new president takes office. As someone in the sector for many years, I have seen the patterns that come with these changes.

There is typically a small drop in overall business for contractors when a Democratic administration comes onboard. In addition, there’s usually a five to seven-month delay in some procurements due to on-boarding political appointees.

However, the Democratic control of Congress and the economic situation are speeding things up at a pace not seen with recent administration changeovers. And this could be a sign that opportunities will be moving quickly in 2021.

More important, all appropriations for the current fiscal year are in place, giving agencies a better chance to execute their acquisition plans, and large GWACS like CIO-SP4 and ITES-4H are being released soon. However, not having many of the agency administrators in place yet may slow down release of new programs that are not at the top of the new administration’s priorities.

With much of the new focus being around cybersecurity, along with clean energy, infrastructure and COVID-19 spending, contractors should take the right steps to educate government buyers and to reinforce their value in helping to achieve the program mission. 

In the fight for connectivity with the government buyer, there is one sure-fire way to get a warm welcome – suggest ways they can get their jobs done better and more cost-effectively.

New Opportunities

Thankfully, there are many new funding opportunities on the horizon that could transform government contractor businesses.

For example, the proposed $9 billion for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) aims to launch new IT and cybersecurity shared services at the Cyber Security and Information Security Agency (CISA) and the General Services Administration (GSA).

In addition, the Biden plan calls for $690 million for CISA to “bolster cybersecurity across federal civilian networks and support the piloting of new shared security and cloud computing services.” The plan also calls for $300 million for the GSA’s Technology and Transformation Services (TTS) unit to drive secure IT projects.

When it comes to healthcare, we will likely see an ongoing emphasis on the pandemic response, as we move our way through COVID-19 vaccination distribution through 2021.

Time to Move Fast

According to a recent Government Marketing University – Real Talk for Government podcast interview, Tom Suder, Founder and President of ATARC, said that now’s the time to move – especially when it comes to responding to the lightening fast changes regarding new government personnel.

“Go in with bold ideas and strike when the iron is hot,” said Suder. “If you have a unique proposition, come up with a comprehensive plan and go for it, because a new administration wants quick successes.”

This should involve fully understanding the priority areas for new agency leaders – and aligning your offerings accordingly. Also, uncover opportunities to educate the government buyer on how your solution truly helps with “quick wins,” while also helping to support long-term mission goals.

Whether you are an incumbent or have been embedded with a particular agency for many years, seek out opportunities to educate leadership on the value you have provided, and fully leverage case studies. 

In addition, ramp up Account-Based Marketing (ABM) efforts that you are doing, and make these efforts highly targeted around agencies and programs that you are pursuing. This should involve a wide-range of tactics – from white papers to guest articles in the federal trades to sponsored webinars, and the like.

Get Your Proposal House in Order

With the potential for significant opportunities under the new Biden Administration, now is the time to get your proposal house in order. This can include ensuring you have the right internal and external resources to be fully prepared to write winning responses.

According to the Deltek 11th Annual Government Contracting Industry Study, 44 percent of contractors don’t have enough time to assemble high-quality responses to requests for proposal (RFPs) and requests for information (RFIs).

While there are many new funding opportunities, the competition for these dollars will remain high. This is where a proposal readiness review (PRR) can help prepare your organization for a bid. Many choose to use a qualified consultant with a checklist that helps identify what has been done, what should be done, and how prepared you are for a response effort.

Although appropriations for this year are already in place, it will take time for new appointees to agency leadership positions to come onboard and evaluate the funds and the priorities of the new Administration. These approved budgets help procurements to move forward, but the delay in political appointments could slow down the progress of new programs – especially if they are controversial.

The Biden Administration has already signaled its priorities with programs like the TMF to address some of our nation’s biggest challenges. And contractor companies have an opportunity to be a critical part of this effort.

The key to success is to move quickly, prove your long-term value, and show new agency leadership that you are the right partner for the agencies’ jobs.

About the Author

Russell Smith is president of Organizational Communications Inc., a Washington D.C. area proposal consulting firm. He can be reached at rsmith@ociwins.com.

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