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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

What's beyond sequestration? Plenty.

Forget the fiscal cliff. Don't even worry about sequestration. Those are just blips on the radar.

There is a whole passel of issues confronting government contractors that will neither be hurt nor helped by sequestration, new tax rates, etc.

That’s the theme I’m getting as I prepare for a panel tomorrow on issues confronting government contractors as the second term of the Obama administration dawns, and a new congress is seated on Capitol Hill.

The panel is being put on by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, and is comprised of a bunch of us journalists. NVTC’s Business to Government and Business Development, Marketing and Sales committees held a brainstorming session to think of questions and topics they wanted us to talk about.

It’s that list of questions that has me going, "Whoa," because the breadth of concerns that are on the minds of the company officials that make up these committees goes way beyond sequestration.

Frankly, a lot of them are outside of my knowledge. Topics include a rundown of major issues – immigration reform, STEM education, cyber, broadband, cloud, big data, energy and procurement. About the best I can do there is, "Yes, these will be big issues."

There are several questions dealing with Congress and the makeup of committees. I have no clue there. Ditto about the question on intellectual property infringement, though I know it is a big deal.

There are several questions posed on government buying patterns. Here, I’m a little better.

Incumbents are facing challenges. I’m hearing stories of lost contracts and of incumbents cutting prices just to hang on to the work.

Low-cost contracting is huge, and will continue to be.

Small-business set asides are a growing issue. We’re seeing more large companies developing strategies to team with small primes to hang to customers as contracts are converted to small business set aside contracts.

But I also hear that meeting small-business goals often are more about rhetoric than reality.

It should be a lively discussion, but what I find interesting, and what takes me back to my sequestration comment to start, is that of the potential 30 questions the NVTC organizers have proposed to us, only three are really sequestration or lame duck related.

What that tells me is that many in industry are looking past sequestration. They believe a solution will happen, even if it is messy and ugly.

But these other issues are the ones that have legs, and are the ones that are going to shape the market for quite a while, after we all forget how to spell sequestration. How I look forward to that day.


Posted by Nick Wakeman on Dec 11, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Reader Comments

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 Lauren Rhoades Arlington, VA

The panel sounds fascinating. As a federal contractor, our company is certainly preparing for sequestration, but looking beyond it, as you mentioned. I hope you will write about your experience at the panel. Many of us in the Northern Virginia/DC area benefit from expertise such as yours and the sharing of information with other industry leaders. I look forward to more informative blog posts. Thanks!

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 OldCIO

I don't know what planet you are on, but on my planet, telling your employees that there is a definite possibility that 10% of them will lose their jobs after January is not a "blip on a radar screen". Have you talked to any large government contractor CEO's to see if they see this as your "blip" or is this just another journalist point of view?

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