Many government contractors are in neutral right now, awaiting both the outcome of the Presidential election and the passage of complete spending bills for FY17. Agencies are in neutral, too, these firms reason as they await new political appointees and actionable information on specific spending accounts. So, now’s the time to double down on football and the World Series, right? Not exactly.
While the first quarter of this year’s Fiscal Calendar is slower than the fourth of last year, that doesn’t mean that everything is in “full stop.” Your federal efforts may need to be modified for this period of time, but there is plenty going on to keep you busy. It’s never easy re-starting a federal business from a standing stop. You have to keep moving at some speed.
First up is relationship building and reaching out to new prospects. Remember, most of the people you work with aren’t political appointees. These people help create, plan, and recommend projects that get approval from either senior career people or political types when they’re in place. Chances are good they have priorities that can either get done without a new political regime, or that they want to have ready for such approval once it’s in place. Business will close now or in January, depending on its scope. Being active means it can close with you as the contractor.
Do politicians have their own agenda and priorities? Sure. Many times, though, they will approve work that doesn’t directly conflict with those priorities, especially if it is already in development and you and your customer have a solid business case behind it. Further, having a strong relationship with careerists can be an asset when their new political bosses come in. You’re already there, you’re trusted, and you’ve either performed or are ready to do so. As such, you’re miles ahead of competitors who waited till all the positions on the org chart were filled.
There is plenty of work that needs to be done that never makes it to the level of an appointee. Routine and follow-on business needs to continue across government. While these projects may not be the stuff of headlines, they’re nevertheless important to your customer and can drive reliable revenue for you. As with the example above, being on the inside, even doing “mundane” work positions you well for future projects.
Remember, too, that Veteran Affairs (VA) and Congress have their full FY17 appropriations. Those two agencies can initiate new projects and have a full FY to work in. Make sure you’ve already been calling on customers in these organizations. Now is a great time, for example, to work on strategic-level Congressional infrastructure projects that don’t require participation by the personal offices of Members or Senators.
Whether it’s “routine” business or creating new relationships that can drive new opportunities, the federal market remains an active place, despite it not being at the frenetic pace of just a few weeks ago. Make sure you’re firm stays focused and active. There’s always time for vacation around the upcoming holidays.