As a woman-owned small business with more than 80 percent of my company’s revenue generated in the federal sector, the fourth quarter of the government’s fiscal year is when the rubber meets the road. According to Deltek, one-third of government spending typically happens in the fourth quarter, which ends this Sept. 30.

 My company, Bethesda, Md.-based Managed Care Advisors (MCA), experienced significant growth in 2012 and is projecting to continue that trend into 2013 and beyond. Since entering the federal sector in 2005, the fourth quarter has been a critical business development period for us. GSA acquisitions are especially attractive to the government during the fourth quarter when time is of the essence.

Having the right GSA Schedule Contracts and knowing how to market them effectively have been critical to our company’s rapid growth in the public sector. More than 80 percent of our current federal contracts were procured through one of our two GSA Schedule Contracts.

If you are not currently on the GSA Schedule, take the time to explore various contracting vehicles to determine which are right for your business. For the next several months, explore teaming and/or subcontracting opportunities with prime contractors that are on the schedule. Remember, Primes will be looking for competent Small Business Partners during this crunch period.

Other essentials to note:
·         In addition to the typical factors that are considered in making bid- or no-bid decisions such as technical requirements, and competitive intelligence, make sure you factor in competing priorities and bandwidth.
·         Be prepared to respond to multiple solicitations quickly and compliantly.
·         Have your proposal teams in place and organized.
·         Have contingency plans in place since the fourth quarter is also a peak vacation season.
 
Last but not least, although the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, contract actions need to be finalized well in advance of that date. So even though time is scarce, remember to still do your due diligence before any communications or solicitations go out. There are no “re-do’s” when you miss a contracting opportunity.
 
Lisa Firestone, MHSA, is president and owner of Managed Care Advisors, Inc. (www.managedcareadvisors.com). The firm is a woman-owned, employee benefits and disability management consulting and full service workers’ compensation case management company based in Bethesda, Maryland. DiversityBusiness.com recently named Managed Care Advisors among the Top 50 Women-Owned Businesses in Maryland. Firestone was awarded the 2011 Victory in Procurement Teaming Government Contractor of the Year by American Express OPEN.