As the clock clicks down to the end of the fiscal year, agencies are trying to kill two birds with one stone — they need to spend all their budget money before Sept. 30, while at the same time achieving their small business goals.
“September is a big month for the government,” said Evan Croen, quantitative analyst for Bloomberg Government. He told the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp that agencies typically make about one-quarter of their small business deals in September.
“This year it might even be a bit more pronounced more than it has in past years,” Croen said. “Because of sequestration’s impact on earlier year spending, we can probably expect that more of this spending is trying to get out of the door this month than even a typical year.” Croen predicted that much of the money would be moving through established contract vehicles rather than through full and open competitions.
“That can put small businesses at a little bit of a disadvantage because they may not be on these larger vehicles where large amounts of money can go through, and also, small businesses may not be able to handle the larger orders that the government needs to do, to actually shove out all the money,” he said. “But even so, we still have historically seen small businesses do well this month and we expect them to do well this year as well.”
Bloomberg has been tracking spending on small business contracts through its Small Business Dashboard. The largest chunk of money remaining, Croen said, is a $5.7 billion gap at the Defense Department between achievement to goal.
It’s not all down to DoD, though. Bloomberg has seen 14 separate agencies that haven’t quite met their small business goals. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, has about $357 million to spend before it reaches its small business goal.
“It’s not only looking at the goal but also looking at historical performance that’s important,” Croen said. “Because, if you look back over the past couple of years, agencies that overachieve tend to overachieve and agencies that underachieve tend to consistently underachieve.”
While DoD may have a $5.7 billion gap, it has historically only hit about 20 percent of its obligations going to small businesses versus its goal of 22.5 percent.
“So, it’s important to take into account that sort of historical performance and the difference between that and the goal in figuring out which agencies to target for this kind of money,” Croen said. Jen Sakole, principal analyst on Deltek’s federal information services team, told In Depth with Francis Ross that there are tremendous opportunities for contractors out there. She pointed to the General Service Administration’s One Acquistion Solution for Intergrated Services (OASIS) multiple-award contract and NASA SEWP-V.
Government spending had been in a stall during the first two quarters of the fiscal year, but all these opportunities started coming up, Sakole said.
“Based on the analysis that we’ve conducted and that I’ve seen, I think that it is still going to come down to the end of the month, not only from seeing high-dollar valued solicitations being released, but also working task orders through IDIQ (indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity) contract schedules and that sort of thing for the traditional IT push that we see in the fourth quarter,” Sakole said.
Francis Rose is the host of In Depth, which airs weekdays from 8-10 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. metro area and online everywhere. Francis has covered all three branches of the federal government as a broadcast journalist since 1998. He joined Federal News Radio in 2006, and launched In Depth in 2008 as a daily show focused on connecting federal executives to the information they need to do their jobs better.