WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Biden's budget as the ultimate conversation starter

I always have to take a deep breath whenever I write about federal budget proposals, especially at this stage of the game and when the proposal is described as the “skinny budget” because of the lack of details.

Despite a majority in the House and control of the Senate, Democrats and the Biden administration will not pass a budget that looks like the proposal that came out last week. The numbers are meaningless as far as actual spending is concerned but there is still some value in the document.

The priorities expressed in the document are not likely to change and can serve as a guide for where contractors should put their energies. Perhaps it is too soon to open the checkbook and make investments but now is the time to lay the groundwork. 

Health care is an emphasis of this administration. Not a surprise given the pandemic, as well as the Affordable Care Act legacy the Biden administration shares.

Public health is now a national security issue given that COVID-19 has killed 500,000 so far -- a number that exceeds the number of Americans killed in all wars from World War I forward.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention is a top priority for increased funding along with proposals for health data collection, training, and building international capacity.

There also is a bigger emphasis on research on cancer and other diseases, along with opioid addiction and gun violence.

The Biden administration also has been pushing their slogan of "Build Back Better." That focus covers traditional infrastructure, education initiatives, mental health, child care and housing.

Other priority areas include climate change and expanding economic opportunities for minority and disadvantaged groups.

Those last two priorities could have broad implications for government contractors because they could impact requirements for government contracts. That could happen whether or not a budget resembling the skinny proposal is based.

The Biden proposal does include more money for the Small Business Administration to invest in underserved entrepreneurs. It also calls for a bigger annual goal for contracts with small disadvantaged businesses, an increase to 15 percent by 2025.

There are many ideas and proposals in the Biden proposal and contractors would be smart to think of it as a guide and conversation starter with their customers. What’s on their wish list? What’s not? How will their agency address the Biden administration priorities?

This document presents a great opportunity to have a deep, meaningful discussion. That can be invaluable for future opportunities no matter what the ultimate budget looks like.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 12, 2021 at 12:47 PM


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