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How Uncle Sam has spent FY14 contracting dollars, so far.

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Sunday, March 02, 2014
Updated: Monday, March 03, 2014

While looking at the past does not always provide a view of the future, in the case of our risk-averse Uncle Sam when it comes to government contracting, yesterday's information is often an indication of what will occur tomorrow. I lead with that to establish a context for the information I'm providing today to help you get better use of this information as it pertains to your organization.

FY14 Obligations YTD

First, let's take a look at what agencies have reported to the Federal Procurement Data System as of the end of February. Please keep in mind these numbers are lower than the actual spend because DoD obligations in FPDS-NG are made viewable to the public ninety-days in arrears. With that said, FY14 YTD obligations are just shy of $81 billion. By award type, more dollars have been obligated to 'definitive contracts' than to any of the other eight Award/IDV Types in this report. In fact, obligations to definitive contracts account for $42B of the current spend.

For the record, the Award/IDV Types referenced by FPDS-NG for this report are:

  • BOA
  • BPA
  • FSS
  • GWAC
  • IDC

If you are not familiar with these terms and which are relevant to how your company currently does business with government agencies you can ask me at an upcoming Business Over Breakfast™ event or check our events calendar for an upcoming The ASBCs of Government Contracting™ webinar. Understanding these is fundamental to identifying customers and opportunities and discerning how they buy what you sell.

Established Contract Vehicles vs. Standalone Contracts
Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDVs) account for much of the way government agencies buy across the board. These include: GSA Schedule; GWACs like STARS II, ALLIANT and NASA SEWP; BPAs and; IDIQs, MACs and more. These are the contract mechanisms that allow agencies to place delivery orders and task orders instead of writing a unique contract for each requirement. For this fiscal year, buys against established contract vehicles currently account for $36B of the YTD obligations.

Top Agencies by Obligations
FPDS-NG indicates sixty-two federal agencies, boards and commissions have obligation-related activity in FY14. The top five (DoD, Energy, VA, NASA and HHS) collectively account for just over $61B.

Small Business Set-Asides
There are references to nineteen set-aside types in FY14 accounting for $7.5 billion in obligations. The number one set-aside type is 'total small business set-aside' ringing the bell at $4.1 billion. The next four types, 8(a) Competed, SDVOSB Set-Aside, 8(a) Sole Source and HUBZone Set-Aside account for $3.1 billion of the set-aside obligations.

Small Business Obligations (Regardless of Set-Aside)
My personal belief is that small federal contractors should pay more attention to this number than set-asides as it has much more meaning and economic impact. This is the number generated when contracting officer's indicate having made an award to a small business concern whether the buy was a set-aside or not. These obligations are currently at $14.4 billion.

Obligations by Extent Competed
While this doesn't indicate how much competition there is for a specific buy or type of buy, it certainly is an indicator of who can take a swing at an opportunity, or not. There are four competition types that indicate the Government opted to not compete certain buys and they account for $18.1 billion of the current obligation total. This means over $62 billion of FY14 obligations have been competitively awarded.

GSA Schedule Buys
I was almost done with this report when I polled some folks to find out what was missing from the summary and unanimously they urged me to include information about GSA Schedule activity. So here you are.

Buys against the GSA Schedule to include the VA Schedules are represented as 'delivery orders' in FPDS-NG. Not all delivery order obligations are to GSA Schedules as this total also includes orders against agency-specific indefinite delivery contracts (such as IDIQs and MACs). The number I arrived at for GSA and VA Schedule obligations for FY14 YTD only includes the initial award and not modifications that may have resulted in additional dollars. Collectively, both schedule programs account for just under $2 billion in initial obligations for FY14. Some BPA's are established by agencies against GSA Schedules which means GSA get's 'credit' for some of these as well. So for good measure, total BPA activity YTD is $2.1 billion.

The way to really leverage this information is to do a similar review for the agencies and goods/services relevant to your company. This can help you understand if they are buying what you sell and how you sell, and what actions you might need to consider to achieve a better position to win. You can even drill down to specific funding organizations and contracting offices using the same exercise. The information is freely available and easy to access.

The difficult part for many will be interpretation and that's where we can help.

Invest in your organizational knowledge by establishing practical and repeatable processes to find and use information to win.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Tags:  award  contract  defense  federal  government  obligation 

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