Editor’s note: Yes, the government market continues to grow. Lexington, Mass.-based forecaster IHS Markit predicts government purchases of goods and services will rise from $3.37 trillion in 2017 to $3.44 trillion in 2018. That’s about a 2.1 percent annual growth rate in purchases. Even federal purchases, says IHS, will rise from $1.27 trillion in 2017 to $1.28 trillion in 2018. 

GPN asked Chuck Schadl for his take on government selling opportunities as the federal fiscal year draws to a close on Sept. 30. Schadl is Group Manager for Government Contracting Services at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He oversees the operation of Georgia Tech’s Procurement Assistance Center – part of a network of operations across the U.S. that help businesses pursue government contracts. The network is within the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. Schadl also offers professional education courses through the Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech.

Some government contracting experts tell GPN that federal agency spending may accelerate near the end of federal fiscal year 2017. Go to this link for one example. Schadl, on the other hand, says year-end federal spending isn’t what it used to be. In fact, Schadl says suppliers should focus on relationship-building, not spending sprees. Schadl offers his views below.

The federal government’s year-end spending sprees are legendary as agencies try to commit contracting dollars – lest they have to turn their leftover budgets back to the U.S. Treasury.

A study conducted last year, however, shows that spending just before September 30 seems to be trending downward, with more attention being given to better planning the spend that begins anew on October 1.

The study, “Positioning for 2017: Competitive Outlook in Defense and Civilian Agencies,” shows that for the past two years both defense and civilian agencies have softened their year-end spending spike. Big data and analytics firm Govini conducted the research.

That said, there’s still a disproportionate amount of contract dollars obligated in the fourth quarter of the federal fiscal year – at least 30 percent.

What can vendors do now to perhaps capture year-end money, as well as set the stage for the new fiscal year?

Realistically, at year-end, all vendors can do is try to be in the right place at the right time. The vendors who benefit most are those already in place under existing contracts. The easiest way for agencies to spend quickly is to do it through existing contracts. As long as they stay reasonably within scope, they can add tasks to active contracts relatively easily. Incumbent vendors should double-down their communication with contacts within contracting shops to find out what they need and offer help in getting it done.
And what if you are not already under contract? Relationships are still the key. Remember, government buyers are just like the rest of us. They feel confident when they know a business, know its key personnel, and know their performance record. Therefore, vendors should continuously look for opportunities to make face-to-face contact with agency decision-makers and influencers.

Attending trade shows, government industry days, and professional association social events are some of the ways to make contact. Whatever the occasion, be prepared to present your capabilities in a clear, compelling and professional fashion – both orally and in writing. Your goal: To make the government representative want to find an opportunity to do business with you.

Editor's note: GPN will be spotlighting government buying and selling opportunities as the end of the federal fiscal year approaches. The topic will be discussed in a series of four Use It or Lose It e-newsletters that will be deployed in July and August before the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept 30, 2017.

Please email michael.keating@penton.com if you'd like to submit a commentary on what federal buyers and contractors need to do before the end of the federal fiscal year, the federal marketplace or similar topic. Go here for a sample issue of the free Use It or Lose It e-newsletter.

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