Each September, as the end of their fiscal year approaches, the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies rush to spend the remainder of their budgets due to “use-it-or-lose-it” budget rules. On average, federal agencies spend nearly five times more in the last week of the fiscal year than they do in any other week of the year. During this time, federal agencies are under pressure to use their full budget allocation as excess budget dollars may prompt Congress to cut their budgets in subsequent years. To accomplish this, agencies must find ways to speed up the procurement process from 12-18 months to a matter of weeks.
One way in which federal agencies can speed up the procurement process is by sole source contracting with 8(a) Native-owned small businesses. In this process, a contracting officer only needs to submit the solicitation to SBA for sole source approval. Once approved, the agency can then dive right into open discussions and negotiations with the contractor to develop budgeting and a statement of work. This is an agile and scalable approach where contracting officers can approve eligible solicitations within weeks.
There are many 8(a), ANC-owned small businesses that are experienced in federal contracting. For example, Chenega Systems offers full-service solutions for federal customers ranging from public affairs and media relations to custom IT training and certification programs. Ryan Maloney, President of Chenega Systems, describes the turnkey, collaborative approach of his organization as comparable to modern tech companies in scalability, innovation, and fast pace. “We go directly into negotiations with the federal government in order to find the best solution. It helps them support their mission in a rapid manner,” he said in a conversation about federal buying season and the benefits of working with an ANC-owned 8(a) organization like Chenega Systems.
Last September, Chenega Systems was contacted by a DoD customer late in the fiscal year in a request issued on August 28. The customer wanted to train team members in cybersecurity to achieve Department of Defense Directive 8570.01-M Baseline Certification along with working knowledge to understand, configure, and troubleshoot USAF Base Area Networks. This request was approved one week later on September 4. By September 30, Chenega Systems began developing custom course material tailored to the customer’s mission, including technical instruction, classroom configuration, appropriate presentation methods, and technical consistency for network training. Chenega Systems’ knowledge of DoD practices and procedures meant that they already possessed the technical knowledge, formal training, and up-to-date insights to develop an effective training program and improve readiness of the assigned unit.
As federal agencies prepare for the final month of the fiscal year, it’s an ideal opportunity for contracting officers to experience the quick turnaround time that comes from working with Native-owned, 8(a) organizations. Concluded Maloney: “We take the process from a 3 to 6 to 12-month acquisition cycle down to 30 days or less. The full-service model offered by Native 8(a) organizations ensures that dollars are not spent in haste and are targeted at programs that support the mission.”
Interested in learning more about sole source process timelines? Download this infosheet.