Obama Administration Looks to Reduce Contractors’ Senior Executive Salary Reimbursements

According to Washington Technology, the Obama administration has proposed changing how the government sets limits on the reimbursement of salaries for senior executives of government contractors.  The current formula for reimbursement sets the cap using a survey of general commercial compensation, but the administration wants to tie the cap  to the salaries of senior federal officials which currently pays $200,000 a year.

In 2010, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy allowed reimbursements for a contractors’ top five executives to reach a total of $693,951. The Obama administration now is concerned that, based on surveys, reimbursements could reach $750,000 in 2011.

Congress will have to pass new legislation to make the change.

The RFP is finally out. NOW, you start to sell, right? Wrong.

Your reputation is your biggest selling advantage.

In the first chapter of our new book, Seven Myths of Selling to Government, we start out with what we consider one of the biggest myths of all: that RFPs drive government business.

Many companies come to us thinking that what they need to know in order to get government business is how to get wind of it when new RFPs come out. That’s the smallest fraction of it.

Our book has almost 30 pages of detail on what the real keys to winning RFPs are. But here’s a tidbit you can have right now: Make sure your reputation precedes you. When they get your RFP response, make sure they already know about your expertise and experience.  Even better, building a reputation can create opportunities to build relationships and potentially help guide the specifications.  YOUR specifications.

Building your reputation for expertise isn’t an overnight job. You can’t start when you get the RFP. You need to start now, in anticipation of RFPs to come 6 to 60 months from now.

How do you do it? There are lots of possibilities, but here are some ideas.

Publish a blog and a newsletter.

If you’re an expert, you need to show forth your expertise on your own turf, and there’s no better way to do it than to start a blog. With a constant focus on what problems you can solve for your prospects, write about how you’ve helped and who you’ve helped. Give advice in a concise, well-organized format (“Five Ways to . . .”). Do it at least weekly.

Blogs are essential to the expert, but they take discipline – and if writing is not one of your areas of expertise, it may take some staff or free-lance writing help. But it’s well worth it. Anything you do to capture attention is likely to lead people back to your blog, which, over time, should become a treasure chest of your accumulated wisdom and the best possible “advertisement” for your skill, smarts and accomplishments. (The key, by the way, is to make sure it never sounds like an advertisement.)

If you’re going to commit to a blog, make all that writing do double duty. Collect the best bits and put out a monthly newsletter. You can also solicit guest contributions from other experts, so you take on a little extra shine from their reflected glory.

Write for the trades.

When you get your writing act together on your own website and publication, consider seeking space in the publications that cater to your prospects. You should already be reading them: Government Product News, Government PROcurement, Government Technology News, Defense Industry Daily, etc., etc. Focus on one. Think about how you could help them fill their columns – trade publications are shorter on staff than ever before. You can pitch a single story to them, but think about what you’ll do for an encore. Your goal will be to become a regular contributor. If you have an idea for a column – on a topic you can sustain interest in issue after issue – that’s even better.

Your ultimate goal is to get readers to follow you from the pages of the magazine to the pages of your website, specifically your blog. So be sure you include the address of the site. Mention every now and then some juicy bit you’ve posted there that relates to the magazine topic at hand.

Get a speaking gig.

If you find this intimidating, think about the last few conferences you attended. How many rock stars were presenting? Few to none, would be our guess. A conference planner often has days of programming to fill, and usually starts with just a handful of good speaker names.

If you’ve established yourself as an expert in an appropriate trade publication, have a good topic and a compelling description of it, you stand a very good chance of getting at least a break-out session at a worthwhile meeting. If you have a knack for this, you can work your way up the food chain, to better spots (lunch speaker, keynote speaker) and better conferences.

Planning and a little bit of patience are in order. You need to start developing your themes and your voice on your blog. When you’ve got that down, expand from your “private” media to the trade media. When you’ve got a name there, you can go on to speaking and making presentations.

You don’t need to be world famous. You just need to be, in Steven Van Yoder’s phrase, “slightly famous” in the circles that include the issuers of the RFPs you’re interested in.

It doesn’t guarantee you’ll win them all. But it makes the selling job a lot easier. The critical first question, “Who the heck are these guys?” is answered before the proposal review committee even has to ask it.

New Labor Rule Requires Winning Contractor to Offer Jobs to Incumbent Contractor’s Employees

Just snatch a new federal services contract away from a competitor?  A new Department of Labor rule says you will have to offer your competitor’s employees a job prior to hiring workers elsewhere.  According to an article in Washington Technology, Labor Department officials have released a new policy mandating that federal service contracts require winning contractors to offer positions to the previous contractor’s employees (whose jobs would end as a result of the new award).  Essentially, incumbent employees will have a right of first refusal for employment.

The thought behind the rule is such a policy would make the transition between contract awards smoother for the government.  However, comments to the ruling offer troubling questions such as:

  • What if the previous contractor lost because of poor performance in general?
  • What if the employee is not up to standard?  Does sufficient documentation exist to determine poor individual employee performance?
  • If I’m a losing contractor, do I really want my employees easily whisked away (taking my company secrets)?
  • How do winning contractors fulfill the cost and quality obligations?
In the article, Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the council, indicated the rule is inappropriate and even counterintuitive.
“While experience shows that companies often hire as many qualified incumbents as possible to avoid the costs of training new employees, this rule denies those companies, who have full responsibility for performance under the contract, their ability to select a workforce they believe is best suited to meeting the contract requirements,” Soloway said.

The official date of when the rule will take effect has not been released, but will be published in a subsequent notice once the starting date has been decided.