What does the last week of the federal government’s contracting cycle look like?

federal government budget

One of the more interesting facets of the government , in particular, government contracting is the funding cycle. The federal government’s fiscal year runs from October 1 of one calendar year through September 30 of the next year. The federal government has by Friday night, 1159 EST or 2059 PST to use the funding. After this period, the leftover funding is not rolled over or even accounted for, it disappears. They have to wait until the next FY for a new reconciliation or budget authorization. That’s if they can ever do one of those again.

We have been on a continuing resolution for nine out of the last ten years, which means the agency procurement officials have high levels of anxiety and uncertainty about what they will have to make procurements in the following year. However, they do know that it is difficult to get the same amount as the year prior. This will happen if they don’t use all of what they were given in a previous year and/or demonstrate a need for additional funding for new projects.

The federal government is working frantically to make awards, using contract vehicles that expedite the buying process. Contract vehicles such as the GSA Schedule, IDIQ’s, MATOC’s, Seaport NXG, STARS III, or the upcoming POLARIS Vehicle, etc. Wherever a procurement can be expedited using one of the vehicles, it will be used.

The Importance of Contract Vehicles

How does a small business participate in this end-of-the-year spectacle if they don’t have one of these vehicles? One of the best tried and true methodologies is to have a certification such as an 8(a), Hub Zone, or WOSB. This way, the government can make a “Direct Purchase” with you at the end of the year. Since the SBA uses the direct award process for its 8(a) businesses, having one eliminates the need for one of these contract vehicles. That is if you have done the marketing, capability presentations, and relationship building. The other two certifications open the door for the direct award purchase, but the government must do a justification for awarding to one of these certified firms. This is easier for them to do at the end of their fiscal year.