Get Government Gigs!

Seasoned integrators weigh in on how to land that elusive federal contract


The winner takes all — once the BPA is awarded, there is no longer any competition. Securityhunter, for example, has a $500 million sole award contract. While that is a mind-boggling figure for a small integrator, keep in mind that there are no orders behind it. The BPA is simply the right for program managers or facilities managers who need physical or logical security to order from Securityhunter. As local federal agencies incur security needs, they check for BPAs on file, and the integrator is in business. For Securityhunter, that has meant projects in Hawaii, Guantanamo, Florida, Texas and New York.

Bids are not always awarded on “low price.” There are some that are awarded on “best value,” Jernigan notes. Holmes agrees: “While prices should also be reasonable for the effort, typically in today’s environment ‘best value’ proposals carry a lot of weight,” Holmes says.

Good references and a good history of past performance can give an integrator an edge, Holmes adds. He says it is important that the proposal or quote should indicate to the evaluators that an integrator has a good grasp of the effort. “The proposal should offer a simple- to-understand solution,” he says. In fact, overly complicated proposals and solutions that require a lot of effort to evaluate will typically get shuffled to the bottom of the pile or immediately eliminated.

There are two major types of government contracts. Both can provide a security integrator a good piece of revenue, but it is important to understand the differences:

• ID/IQ contracts (indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity) essentially provide for an indefinite quantity of some security service during a fixed period of time. With ID/IQs, a program manager has available money to spend on specific needs.

• GWAC contracts (Government-Wide Acquisition contracts) are multi-agency or multi-department contracts available for bid, Cotter explains.

 

Getting Started

“I recommend someone new to the process review the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARS) to better understand the requirements,” Holmes says. ”Once you have gained familiarity with the FARS, you will find the first step in the procurement process is that the government must advertise and publish in an open and public forum, its requests for quotes and proposals (RFQ/RFP).”

A popular location for advertisements and announcements is at www.fbo.gov, but it is not the only place projects and programs are advertised. “It is important to have a good relationship with the end-user and their contracting office to understand specifically where they advertise their business opportunities,” Holmes says.

Just as with anything else, a good place to start is on the Internet. Look at sites like gsa.gov or fbo.gov for contracts coming up. GSA schedules are an efficient way for government organizations to quickly obtain pricing from commercial firms; however, a GSA contract is not required. “Although Kratos has several GSA contracts, there are multiple paths to being awarded a federal contract, including direct awards from government agencies and other ID/IQ contracts,” Cotter explains.

One tip Rogers would offer the newbie is to move away from project work and look for programs. He finds that federal projects have “a gazillion” people bidding, and competition gets extreme. “It becomes irrational. You’ll never win,” Rogers states. He prefers to look at programs and works with GSA Advantage.

“It is very beneficial to have a GSA schedule as it offers several advantages for you as a supplier, and more importantly, it holds many benefits for the procurement activity as well,” Holmes says, noting that a GSA Schedule is effectively a contract with the government, where the government has analyzed your pricing and found it to be fair and reasonable.

Accepted items go on a Federal Schedule. This means that, in some special circumstances, an opportunity does not have to be bid competitively in a full and open environment, which immediately enhances your probability of securing new or additional business.

In addition to vigilant website monitoring, Cotter says his firm employs a variety of tools and resources to help identify and pursue bids, including paid subscription services which collect and integrate potential opportunities from thousands of resources, including websites, agency procurement plans, capital spending plans, etc. Other strategies include leveraging relationships with industry partners who will recommend Kratos; and participation in industry events such as ASIS, ISC West and Govsec to maintain awareness of opportunities and trends in the market.