Collaboration is the Key for Ensuring Federal Agencies and Contractors Meet Fiscal Year End Goals
The period prior to the federal government’s fiscal year end (FYE) is a crucial time to build relationships with government agencies. During FYE 2017, USAspending.gov reported that nearly one-third of federal agency dollars were spent in Q4, significantly higher than in Q1, Q2, and Q3. With $4.9 trillion obligated for spending in Q4 2017, it is in the best interest of contractors and agencies to have an in-depth understanding of how to align agency goals, obtain additional business, and help drive FYE needs to benefit citizens.
Why does the federal government spend more money in Q4, while spending less in Q1, Q2, and Q3? The answer is time. Agencies have more time in Q1 through Q3 to negotiate with contractors and obtain the best value when it comes to goods and services. However, once Q4 begins, there is a large and intense spike in agency spending for fear that time is running out. Federal agencies tend to frantically spend their unused funds on last minute solutions before the appropriations lapse. Otherwise, government agencies are desperately trying to reprogram funds at the last minute, because they would have to return unused appropriated dollars to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury. This usually spells bad news for future budget requests for these entities.
How can government contractors and federal agencies work together to ensure opportunities are met before FYE? The key is collaboration. Because both parties understand mission-critical needs that must be resolved before FYE, they should work together to achieve FYE spending goals. Contractors need to be proactive and remind their agency contacts, e.g., contracting officers, of their FYE goals and how they can offer prompt service and solutions during the spending time frame, and agencies need to reach out to contractors for the best solutions.
With the calendar now turned to August 2018, rules have changed with regard to many types of procurements. Agencies may now issue sole source contracts and modifications without requiring certified cost or pricing data for actions below $2 million. This increased threshold should enable expedited contract modifications. This presents an opportunity for contractors and their clients to add on scope or add on a nice-to-have feature to a product without as much effort.
Increases to the micro-purchase and simplified acquisition thresholds also are opportunities for agencies to spend FYE budgets without as much process as previously necessary. It’s important to keep in mind that all agency spending is cut off by the middle of September. So, you’re going to need to act quickly for FY 2018 dollars.
Throughout the year, contractors should ensure that all products and services being provided are up-to-date, prepared to begin work immediately, have capable resources available, and have their GSA schedules and past performance aligned with agency goals. To get the most out of the relationship with your agency, contractors should focus on several key areas:
- Review budget plans for existing and targeted agencies and identify key relationships.
- Utilize existing relationships and identify unspent money that can be used to modify current contracts that will benefit the agency.
- Review past awards and identify key contracts that you’re aligned with that may be looking to spend unused budget dollars.
- Research and understand specific agency spending dollars by utilizing sites like usaspending.gov, fdps.gov and usafacts.org. There are other paid services out there, if you have the resources.
- Continue to stay involved in project planning for upcoming fiscal year planning.