A Perfect Storm: In the Midst of the Federal Buying Season and Federal Fiscal Year End


While federal buying season has been under way for months, we are now in the midst of frenzy. A “perfect storm” of buying and activity is here between now and federal fiscal year end. Are government contractors ready?

The uncertainty of the legislative year and the pending budget battles ahead, combined with many agencies being way behind on their seasonal spending in federal fiscal Q4, should create the best buying environment we have seen since 2011. The higher quoting activity in federal fiscal Q3 that many of us have experienced should now be converted into sales and the pending demand should prove wonderfully incredible and rewarding.

Why a frenzy? Over the last four years, civilian agencies have spent on average 37.3% of their budgets and Department of Defense (DoD) agencies have spent 30.8% of their budgets, respectively, in federal fiscal Q4.

Where do we focus? We focus on the agencies with the most to spend. Civilian winners with disproportionate budget left in the fiscal year include: USAID, Commerce (including Census and NOAA), DOL, USDA, EPA (yes that EPA), and HHS all having more than 40% of their budget left to spend. Super winners in Civilian include SSA, DOI, and State Department with over 50% of their budgets left as of September 1. However, the clear target and winner in DoD is Army, which has one of the largest budgets in the DoD, with 37% of their budget left, which is 7% more of than normal seasonality would allow.

Where will they spend? They will spend on the contract vehicles they trust. SEWP V, CIO-CS, and GSA (think Comstor) offer contracting officers an option for quick competition and awards so they do not lose their 2017 budgets.

How will they spend? They will not risk losing any O&M budgets for any reason, so those monies will be the main priority to renew, slot, and compete. If mission critical capital budget spend has been approved for projects or IT investments then those monies will also become a quick priority. Be prepared to support both types of spending or the buying season will swiftly pass you by without the wins you deserve.

When will it happen? Every single day between now and the last day of September should crescendo into a volume and pace that we have not seen in over five years. The days should be long, the collaboration should be frequent and intense, and the alignment of work should be carefully coordinated or the pace of the next two and a half weeks will overcome your ability to execute.

How do we win? Over communicate with contracting and procurement officers about how you can be responsive, what support they need to close out their work, and what resources you offer for them to ensure their success. They need your help. Show up strong and support them better than your competitors.

Are we with you? You know it! Comstor Federal and all of our resources are here to support every single opportunity you bring to us. We know this buying season is each one of our partner’s Super Bowl and we want you to win the game by providing whatever support you need to win and truly realize the opportunity of the frenzy ahead.

We are in this buying season with you to win this buying season.


  • Jeff Smith

    Jeff Smith is the President of True Upside, a strategic consultant in the public sector, and partner of Comstor Federal. Jeff specializes in helping companies acquire meaningful contracts as well as helping clients optimize returns on their existing portfolios. He is a regular federal contributor to EDGE360, often sharing his insights and best practices on winning more government business.

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