In the State of Washington, citizens have another way to interact with their legislators through a new online commenting system launched last week. Constituents now have the ability to click a link on the bill’s webpage and provide comments. The website automatically determines the constituent’s district and sends a message to the corresponding legislators. Nice.
One wonders why this kind of thing isn’t more prevalent. The technology is not that complex, and the benefits are evident. Why hasn’t this approach been adopted nationally? I suspect behind this initiative is a “champion” within the state government. A person who just “couldn’t let this go” and was willing to step up and lead the effort.
Identifying and supporting champions are a key to success in government contracting. As you talk with friends and acquaintances within government, ask them to identify the “go-getters” within their agency. Find out who has a passion for a particular pet project and why. This person may not hold the grandest title. But, he/she may just have the drive, desire and influence to get things done. If you can show this type of person how you can solve a problem and help them achieve their goal, you’re well on your way to a successful government sale.
President Obama just signed into law a bill averting the much discussed fiscal cliff. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief and get back to work as government contractors, right? Well, yes and no. First, the “no” side of the equation. Though bypassing a looming crisis, Congress postponed dealing with some of the key issues that spawned all this fiscal cliff stuff in the first place. Our leaders deferred the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts (known as “sequestration”) for two months. Further, they didn’t raise the debt ceiling even though the Treasury technically hit the $16.4 trillion limit Monday. These things we’ll need to be addressed just about the time the continuing budget resolution runs out and a new budget battle will be underway. Looks like more fireworks are in our future.
Now the “yes, we can get back to work” side of the equation. While an environment of uncertainty such as has been created by the fiscal cliff battle can certainly have a negative impact on programs, I can assure you the federal government isn’t going away anytime soon. It will still buy billions of dollars worth of stuff every day–hopefully some of it from you. The main point: uncertainty is nothing new to experienced contractors. There is always a cloud of precariousness hanging over government contractors: funding battles, continuing resolutions, political turnover, contract expirations, bid protests, etc. All of these serve to make government markets a bit rocky. It’s something you deal with and navigate, meanwhile being thankful for the good characteristics like long-term contracts, and a customer that pays religiously.
So, amidst all the turmoil and uncertainty, just do what you do best. Build relationships, solve problems, create value. Do it well and you’ll build bridges across this and any future “cliffs” that may lie ahead.
A technology client recently asked us to summarize our opinions on key trends in federal government contracting. We were happy to do so…and share the benefits of this with you. Here are several key trends we’re seeing in government contracting:
- More emphasis on shared technology and infrastructure (i.e. cloud computing)
- More justification that the chosen procurement vehicle is the best approach of all available contracts
- More firm fixed-price (FFP) contracts
- Greater emphasis mobility and working from home (teleworking)
- Greater focus on IT security given more mobility and teleworking
Technology is driving many of these things as access, sharing, mobility, security, and other related trends converge. We also don’t believe the election outcome will change the trajectory of any of these trends in a significant way.
What do you think? What trends are you seeing that support or contradict this list?
Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)
As covered by Government Technology, law enforcement is taking social media seriously. A recent survey of law enforcement agencies shows most agencies use social media, and almost all agencies are interested in using sites like Facebook and Twitter to solve crimes. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Center for Social Media released its third-annual social media survey on Oct. 2, revealing social media is a fast-growing trend in law enforcement.
Nearly 62 percent of the 600 agencies polled claimed to have a written social media policy, whereas two years ago only 35 percent claimed to have such a policy in place. More agencies said they believe social media helps improve community relations and help solve crimes than two years ago.
Overall, it appears that almost all law enforcement agencies are either using social media or interested, with 92 percent of agencies claiming to use social media sites, with nearly 70 percent of those not using social media planning to begin using it within the next year.
With more than 91 million smartphone mobile devices in the country, states are pursuing the development of mobile applications to meet citizen needs (discussed in Govtech here).
According to a February 2012 survey of 100 members of GovTech Exchange, an online community of senior-level IT pros from state and local government, many states are already moving forward. The survey found that 38 percent of respondents planned to launch new mobile offerings within 12 months. Of those planning new deployments, 55 percent said they will use development approaches that allow a single source of content to be viewed by multiple device types and operating systems. Roughly half said they’ll create the apps using in-house developers, while the other half planned to work with outside developers.
A solid article by Steve Charles in Washington Technology, discusses the “new realities” of government contracting. Some of the more interesting points include:
- A greater preference for firm, fixed-price contracts
- More scrutiny surrounding the use of interagency contracts requiring written justification that the vehicle chosen is the “best procurement approach” of all available interagency contracts
- Greater focus on shared technologies, infrastructures and commodity purchases
- Movement towards mobility and teleworking
We concur with all of these points. Most of these trends are in line with what is happening in the private sector as well. Technology is driving many of these things as access, sharing, mobility, security, and other related trends converge.
What do you think? What trends are missing from this list? We’d love to hear from you.
Today, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta unveiled a budget plan that cuts half a trillion dollars in spending increases over the next 10 years, ultimately illustrating how the Obama administration feels America’s military needs to change. Cuts would begin in October 2013.
Panetta said he will request a total budget that is $33 billion less than the current budget. To achieve this, Panetta said a new “flexible and agile” strategy was developed for the military of the future. From examples provided, savings will come from reduced headcount, closing of European bases, and retiring of antiquated hardware.
Programs like the Special Operations Forces (e.g. Navy SEALs) and unmanned aerial vehicles will actually see increases in spending.