COVID-19 For GovCons

You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.

New acquisition rules for pandemic response.
How to protect your contract & your business.
Ways to connect with buyers you can help.

How & Why To Reach Your Federal Buyer During The Pandemic: Instant access to our webinar recording

Frequently Asked Questions :
Because It’s Important You Know.

The Latest: Rules & Regs for Contracting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Three things: Opportunity. Rules. Compassion.

First, opportunity. Expect an immediate spike of urgent requirements, followed by a second wave as buyers begin to find their footing. Moving into Q4 and early 2021, expect a third wave representing a response to the shift of original plans.

Second, rules. Rules and requirements are changing daily. Find reliable, legitimate sources of rule changes and circulars. Check those sources often, and create a sharing network. What LinkedIn groups are you in? Do you have a distribution list of friends? Are you in an industry association or two? Be a hero. SHARE. Then, do the same thing with opportunities you hear about. SHARE THE LEADS. Create a list of competi-mates who do things similar to you, or whose offerings complement yours. Your federal buyer might not need what you do right now, but if you can help them find what they do need, you’ll be a friend for life.

Third, compassion. It’s easy to think of your government customers as controlling the pipeline of cash you need to survive.  Did you think their rule interpretation was stupid, unduly conservative or just plain wrong? Are you frustrated because you’re not hearing from them? Ask yourself: What’s going on for THEM?  Your federal buyers are highly risk-averse fellow humans on the best of days. Now, they’re carrying an even heavier load of public and media scrutiny on top of handed-down, ever-shifting rules. Even though the world is in a rush, and all the rules are changing by the day, everything your customers do right now will be reviewed in excruciating detail and audited to a fare-thee-well months from now.  Stress pushes buyers and vendors alike into fight-or-flight mode. Break that cycle with caring. People will always remember how you made them FEEL. Caring may be what they need more than ANYTHING right now. Empathy is the universal contract vehicle.

Because the President has declared a national emergency concerning COVID-19 under the Stafford Act, the flexibilities in FAR§ 18.202, “Defense or recovery from certain events,” are available to support response efforts to COVID-19. These flexibilities include:

    • A raised micro-purchase threshold, from $10,0001 to $20,000 for domestic purchases and to $30,000 for purchases outside the U.S.;
    • An increased simplified acquisition threshold, from $250,0002 to $750,000 for domestic purchases and $1.5 million for purchases outside the U.S.; and
    • For agencies, simplified acquisition procedures up to $13 million for purchases of commercial item buys.

Start with the OMB memo, M-20-18 Managing Federal Contract Performance Issues Associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (March 20, 2020). 

And keep up! New rules are issued frequently. Find a few reliable, official, sources of rules and check it daily.

Guidance: What About My Contract?

Get  free advice about contract clauses and issues from your Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Find the one nearest you at www.aptac-us.org.

New Contracts: What, Where & How

Don’t wait for solicitations, but don’t start pumping out mass email campaigns, either. Create individualized plans to CALL THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW. On. The. Phone. Actually TALK TO THEM. These people are current customers, people who aren’t yet customers but who are getting to know and trust you, and friends who might be able to introduce you to people who need you.

Before making those calls, put yourself in your potential buyer’s place. Don’t ask where you fit. Think about what’s happening for them, and what’s likely to be their MOST URGENT PROBLEM. Then come ready to explain how your expertise, service, or products will help them.

Create a PDF that highlights THAT information. In it, also include:

  • A link to your website
  • Capability statement
  • Specific product/service/solution 
  • Contract vehicles 
  • A short list of two or three relevant customers whose size, scope, scale, and location of problem are similar to theirs
  • Whom to contact along with an email address using your name and your company’s domain — not info@ or contact@, and not @gmail.com.

You’ll be speaking with human beings, so make call notes beforehand. How are they DOING? Do they have young kids at home? Elders? College students? How are their families? What’s challenging for them right now? How are they adapting? What’s the top thing they need right now?


Expect to try to reach them multiple times. That’s NORMAL in the best of times, and these are NOT the best of times. 

When you reach them, slow down. Take your time. You’re in a hurry and stressed. They’re under tremendous pressure and stressed. Create some calm for yourselves, first. If you leave voicemail, make it short, upbeat, encouraging, and be specific about how you can help. Leave your phone number, twice, and also tell them the day, date, and time you’ll call back. Mark your calendar so you DO call them back on that day and time.

If you send an email, write a CLEAR SUBJECT LINE addressing something they need. Also:

  • “I’m checking in…
  • Sorry I missed you!…
  • … Here’s what it’s about…
  • …you’ll find attached/linked something that might help…
  • …and I’ll call you by phone on DAY and DATE, and at TIME”

Call them on that day/date/time. And persist.

You MUST register in SAM.Gov. It’s free to do, and will take you about 20 minutes. If you see an urgent requirement, then slow down and read and follow instructions carefully. Buyers don’t have time to teach you. 

If you’re looking around and seeing OPPORTUNITIES EVERYWHERE, start with ONE office where you know someone, or ONE federal buyer who’s called YOU.

Learn while you earn. Learn the rules of the game from your Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Find the one nearest you at www.aptac-us.org

Understand the power of past performance: Complete ONE sale first, and perform spectacularly well, start to finish. Then ask that person you’ve served so well, “How else can I help? Who else could I help?”

Be patient; be persistent.

Trust your gut. Start by putting yourself in the buyer’s chair. Whose call will they take? Someone they know, like and trust. If you’re not that person—yet—then be willing to invest the time to BECOME that person

Next, remember the Big Three: Follow the rules. Make it easy. Make them look good.

Follow the rules. First read the sole-source justifications in FAR Subpart 6.3. Read the whole thing.

Make it easy. Then KEEP READING and notice all the WORK a contracting officer might need to do to give you a sole-source award. It’s not easy. And it’s not all about what’s convenient for YOU. How easily can a contracting officer do business with you? Are you on a GSA Schedule? Are you on some other contract vehicle you know that—based on data—the contracting officer uses? Are you on someone else’s? Make it easy for THEM to do business with YOU.
 

Make them look good. Next, understand that the contracting officer is under constant pressure and, months from now, will face extra layers of auditors and tiger teams going through all of their emergency procurements with a microscope. Help your contracting officer be a star, able to demonstrate “competition to the maximum extent practicable.” GSA Schedules and existing contract vehicles help tick that box.

Federal agencies are using “Other Transaction Authorities,” which offer more flexible acquisition processes not covered by Federal Acquisition Regulations. Learn more about those in:

Deltek COVID-19 Briefing – April 8, 2020. PDF download (39 pages). Click Here

Click below to register. 

Have Questions?

BOOK TIME WITH JUDY

Book a “Fast Track to Federal Contracts” Today!

Discover your best next move, and create a sense of clarity about your goals for the year ahead! You’ll leave this session knowing EXACTLY what to do to
Grow Your Federal Business!

Thanks for visiting! Just a note…I’m not a lawyer. While I cover lots of legal issues here, and gather information from top experts across the country, you should always consult an attorney experienced in U.S. federal contracting before making business decisions related to information you find on my website, okay? Be safe!