New Report Reveals Trends in Federal Contracting for Small Business

Despite, current procurement tracking methods at the federal level, it’s not easy to get a real picture of how small business fares within government contracting.  However, a new report, Trends in Federal Contracting for Small Businesses, published by American Express OPEN’s Victory in Procurement (VIP) program provides some unique and interesting insights.  For this study, 740 “active small business federal contractors” were polled during the months of October and November.  Here are a few key findings from the first of four publicly-released summary reports:

  • Small businesses spent more chasing federal contracts. Over the past year, the amount of time and money that active small business contractors have invested in seeking federal contracts averaged $103,827, an increase of 21 percent over previous year figures.
  • Small businesses bid less frequently on contracts. Even as the average investment has risen over the past year, bidding activity has declined by nearly half.  This includes both prime and subcontracting bidding activity. In addition, the average success rate for small business contractors (in both prime and subcontracting) has declined, indicating a more competitive environment.
  • Try, and try again. Active small business contractors reported they had to submit an average of 4.4 bids before they won their first prime federal contract. Two-thirds of active small business contractors have performed on more than one federal contract, and, on average, it took them just under a year to win their second contract.
  • Experience pays. Contractors with ten or more years experience have success rates of 53% on average.  This compares to contractors with three or less years experience who have success rates of 20% on average.

Overall, the study highlights the fact that government contracting is not an easy, short-term strategy for small business.  It takes commitment, work, and investment to succeed.  On the other hand, for small businesses who know what they’re doing and/or are willing to make the effort, it is also clear government contracting can be a smart, highly lucrative pursuit.

DHS Releases Blueprint for Cybersecurity

Department of Homeland Security

I know it’s geeky, but I rather enjoy reading through federal government strategic plans–particularly those related to technology or homeland security.  Makes me feel a little Jack Bower-like (I miss you man!) to see what’s going on in the minds of our leaders.  It also helps, from a business perspective, to know where the strategic areas of focus and opportunities lie within top target government agencies.

We have an opportunity to do this once again with the release of DHS’s Blueprint for a Secure Cyber Future:  The Cybersecurity Strategy for the Homeland Security Enterprise.  According to Janet Napolitano, DHS Secretary, “The framework aims to help better use existing capabilities and promote technological advances that make government, the private sector and the general public more resilient online.”

The document focuses on two core areas of DHS’s cyber mission: protecting critical information infrastructure, and strengthening the broader “cyber ecosystem.”

Protecting Critical Information Infrastructure

According to the plan, DHS will protect critical information infrastructure by reducing exposure to cyber risk, ensuring priority response and recovery, maintaining shared situational awareness and increasing resilience.

DHS looks to create the National Cybersecurity Protection System, develop incident reporting guidelines, issue alerts regarding significant threats, and run the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center among other tactics.

Strengthening the Cyber Ecosystem

The other focus area relates to strengthening the cyber ecosystem. DHS says it will empower individuals and organizations to operate securely; make and use more trustworthy cyber protocols, products, services configurations and architectures; build collaborative communities; and establish transparent processes.

While the blueprint may not be as exciting as an episode of 24 (particularly the first few seasons), it may just provide you technology-oriented government contractors out there with some new ideas or at least some support for existing roadmaps

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Five Government Procurement Rules that Stifle Innovation

Government procurement is often no picnic.  If you’ve been involved in selling to government for any length of time, you know the myriad of rules, regulations and hoops you must jump through in order to successfully compete.  Of course, these rules are required to a degree to protect us, the American taxpayer and promote fair business practices.  Yet, many times these formalities have detrimental unintended consequences.  This is particularly true in the rapidly changing world of technology.

The linked article, Five Government Procurement Practices that Stifle Innovation, by Justine Brown in Public CIO magazine brings up some great points about how procurement rules can stifle technology (and what some agencies are doing to make things better).  It’s well worth a quick read.