This is a guest post by Tabatha Turman, founder, president and CEO of IFAS (Integrated Finance & Accounting Solutions, LLC).
The end of the fiscal year for government agencies can be very beneficial to small companies that are positioned properly. Contracting officers assess their remaining dollars then look to sole source work (“no-bid contracts”) to decrease the acquisition cycle and meet their small business set-aside goals. Small businesses must leverage existing relationships to gain access to contracting officers who are doing this end-of-year spending.
The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) small business advocates are valuable resources to engage at the end of the year. At several agencies contracting officers reach out to these small business advocates for referrals of viable small businesses to meet their agency’s requirements.
Before meeting with small business advocates it is important to do your homework about the agency and your company’s capabilities. If you are an 8(a) firm your certification should be communicated as a contract vehicle to acquire your product or service after you have briefed your capabilities. You want to ensure the small business advocate that you have experienced staff to quickly respond to end-of-year requirements.
In some instances small businesses receive sole source opportunities that require teaming to bolster their service offerings and capabilities to perform effectively on the contract. If oral proposals are required, be prepared to share the spotlight with your teammate when presenting to the government. The key is to demonstrate to the government that as a small business you can do 51% of the work.
GSA schedules are another way to capture end of year dollars. Because prices and past performance have already been vetted, contracting officers look to these vehicles for quick awards. The key to capturing these dollars is to act quickly as the response window is usually 5-7 days.
Though a short suspense may tempt you to respond to the requirement with a canned proposal, resist the temptation. Do your homework and respond to the agency’s specific requirements. Take the time and effort to respond intelligently and addresses the 3Cs: content, compliance and compelling. Always organize your proposal in accordance with the instructions before giving consideration to anything else.
The key to success at the end of the fiscal year is to leverage your relationships with existing clients and to be prepared to respond quickly and intelligently when presented with opportunities.
Note from Bill: At present, only 8(a) and HUBZone can receive un-alloyed sole source awards. There is no sole sourcing yet for women-owned small businesses, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses are bound by some odd rules. The contracting officer needs to develop a market survey that no other service-disabled veteran-owned small business can do this work. This has been the subject of many different legislative initiatives to correct. The women-owned small business program is also subject to legislative initiatives to adjust and convey sole source authority.