Working with the Federal Market

The Federal Market - it’s so hot right now.

Yet for most AEC firms, the phrase “federal market” strikes a chord of confusion, hesitance, and trepidation. What is an SF330? Where do I go to find solicitations? What’s with all the acronyms? These are common questions for those new to this market. With the economic stimulus package indicating an increase in spending on government contracting projects, there’s never been a better time to pursue federal contracts. Easier said than done, we say.

For many companies today, the need to understand and infiltrate this new market is necessary for their survival. Luckily, SMPS is in tune and offered a spectacular program to address the AEC industry’s thirst for information. Setting a record attendance for a luncheon program, “Doing Work with the Federal Market” featured a highly knowledgeable panel; Brian Whelan with the General Services Administration and Les Zuniga from the Savannah Corps of Engineers honestly answered a number of questions, while Chuck Schadl from the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center served as an expert moderator.

After a lunch filled with end-of-year awards for the SMPS Atlanta chapter, inquisitive questions were thoughtfully answered by the panelists on how to become eligible for government work, how to work best with government entities, stimulus projects, and more. A few featured questions:

Q: What is the number one cause for disqualification with a SF330?
A: A late submittal. Under-qualified firms. Not following the solicitation.

Q: What is the best way to work with the government?
A: Getting government work is not a game of chance. There is no substitution for satisfactory experience and relevant experience. Asking for debriefings after each submittal is also advised; this will help you to better understand what is being looked for.

Tip: Switching team members throughout the process is not advisable!

Q: What is more important; experience or performance?
A: Experience – that factor weighs in before anything else.

Q: Do you have to have previous government contract experience in order to be awarded another?
A: No. Relevant experience is the key factor. The government would like to expand its horizons on the companies they work with. The more companies competing for projects, the more competitive the pricing will be!

Tip: Make sure proposals have page numbers!

By the end, there was one very clear point: follow the directions of the solicitation. A simple concept often forgotten.

Emily Choate
Program Committee Member, SMPS Atlanta
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