Skip Liesegang is vice president of the government channels division of immixGroup, which helps technology companies sell to the federal government. He can be reached at Skip_Liesegang@immixgroup.com. Here, Liesegang discusses how the upcoming presidential elections could impact your government business. ImmixGroup was #67 on CRN's 2012 Fast Growth list.—Jennifer Bosavage, editor
As the nation looks to the next presidential election, the government’s current fiscal year is drawing to a close. Uncertainty over the federal budget is higher than normal. Congress may reach a compromise on the budget during the “lame-duck” session between the election and the next congressional session.
It’s not all doom and gloom for companies selling into the federal government — government IT opportunities are still plentiful. In order to succeed in this environment, vendors need to understand where the opportunities lie, the policies that effect procurement decisions, and how to evolve sales strategy to support the new procurement models.
To find those government IT opportunities, companies have to take a close look at each agency’s 2013 and 2012 budget documents to see where the agency wants to go in the future. Keep in mind that until at least March, agencies will be constrained to spend in accordance with 2012 appropriations. The best sales opportunities are in programs that may be already in development; those have the best chances of continuing. It’s also important to find those programs that may already have passed muster with TechStat reviews, which would do away with programs that are exceptionally late or over-budget.
It’s undeniable that the past 18 months have created huge changes in federal IT acquisition and procurement policy. Many of the IT policy changes were proposed by former federal CIO Vivek Kundra and more keenly focused on by his successor, Steven VanRoekel. The policies look to cut operating and maintenance costs, improve the speed of application development, and move to shared services as a procurement model.
Those changes are almost certainly inevitable, even in the event of a change of hands in the Office of the President. Draft legislation is circulating on the Hill that would hardcode them into law. Reviewing the new Digital Strategy, and the Federal Data Center Consolidation and Cloud-first strategies will give companies selling to government the best idea of how to position technology for the most receptive ear during the IT acquisition planning process.
On the procurement front, changes have been more scattershot. Between Congress and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, contractors will see looser rein over pre-solicitation communications, tighter control over supply chain management and prevention of counterfeit goods, greater emphasis on small/disadvantaged business contracting, and more demand for commodity IT purchases and strategic sourcing agreements.
Value-added resellers, solution providers, service providers, and federal contractors all have to ask themselves the fundamental but critical question, “How do I transform my business model in light of these changes?”
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