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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Does CR spell relief?

Should we feel relieved that Congress extended the continuing resolution to Dec. 22 or should we still hold our collective breath for a shutdown?

I’m feeling pessimistic and am holding my breath. I know that is very cliched so here is another one. Congress has done what it has become so good at: kicking the can down the road.

And the kicking is not over yet. The government might not shut down come Dec. 22 but I don't expect a full appropriations to be passed for fiscal year 2018 either. We might see defense appropriations but no way will we see a budget for all of the civilian agencies.

So that means another CR pushing the deadline out to mid-to-late January at the earliest. And who knows, it might just be early spring before appropriations get through just as we saw with fiscal 2017.

Congress and the White House just have too much going on, namely, the tax cut/reform bill that the House and Senate need to reconcile. The goal is to get that done before the end of the year but there are no guarantees.

While I think the tax package will get passed, it will take a lot of negotiations and work. I just don’t see Congress being able to do both the tax work and budget at the same time.

Republicans will put more energy into the tax package because that has a higher chance of success. The budget will be much tougher both inside the GOP and when negotiating with the Democrats.

So what is a contactor to do?

In October, I was on Mark Amtower’s radio show and that’s what we talked about. Here is a link to listen. (We also reviewed overall trends, M&A activity and the general state of the market.) The other guest was Larry Allen of Allen Federal Business Partners and formerly of the Coalition of Federal Procurement.

In this kind of environment, contractors should be doing some basic things but it all starts with talking to your customers. Under a CR there are no new starts but you should talk to your customer to determine how they define new start versus what they consider work on an existing project.

Now is also a time to be laying the groundwork for when the CR ends. Demo products, services and solutions. Take the time to shape some upcoming opportunities.

During the CR, understand where your money is coming from and how the CR impacts that finding source. Frankly, you should have already done this.

Even if a customer can sign a year-long extension, they will still want support. So keep meticulous records and talk to your customer now to make sure you get paid when budget open up.

And of course, talk about a shutdown. What are essential personnel and operations for your customers? How do you support that? Where does your work fall?

You will get through this of course. He market always does but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

As a co-worker told me, Congress really only has one job -- pass a budget. They are woefully and embarrassingly bad at it but eventually it gets done.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Dec 08, 2017 at 11:45 AM


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