Opportunities for change in the new budget reality

opps for change under current budget chaos

One of the things I think this new budget reality has created for public sector organizations is an extraordinary need to make better decisions.  In previous years budget situations have been tight and there’s been a fight for resources but I think that this past year and next year the situation has and will become much worse. I think it has become so dire that it has really begun to affect performance and to significantly impact the capability of some programs to deliver. Every agency has begun to find itself in the position of needing to understand better than it ever has before the things that it:

  • asks itself to accomplish
  • the places where dollars are slipping through the cracks
  • opportunities for savings based on consolidation
  • reducing vendor spend
  • less complicated technology environments

I think this may also be one of the huge drivers for cloud based services. In previous years there’s been hesitancy to be an early adopter or the first one out of the door on these new initiatives but this new budget reality is going to force people to look at some of these opportunities. In order to continue to deliver, they’re going to need to overcome some of the hesitancy to move their application over to an environment that they don’t completely control.  You have two things at work in a lot of agencies.

  1. There should be a serious look at what capabilities the agency needs to deliver on the mission and how to help support those activities.
  2. There needs to be a real focus on how do we, if possible, innovate our way out of this.

I think you’re going to see two camps divided on this.  You’ll have one camp of folks that falls into the “hunker down, cut costs, operate and maintain” only camp. In the other camp you’re going to see people that say we’re going to find a way to plan better and innovate our way out of the mess that we’re in. I think that we may have reached a limit of what the first camp can deliver.  The last few years we’ve seen smaller budgets. From my personal experience I’ve seen public sector in many of these cases try to recompete contracts around cost and do other things to help cut enough cost to keep going. I don’t think that as we look at the kind of year over year trend that we’ve been seeing that that is going to be something that is sustainable for a long period of time.  I think that agencies are going to have learn another way and I think that starts with doing better planning and ends with finding better ways of doing things.  I’m curious what other folks think.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Sequestration, small business and the federal marketplace

sequestation blog

I rarely write directly about the contracting process, this is primarily because it isn’t my area of expertise. I’ve been working with public sector clients for almost 20 years but I still don’t claim any particular expertise in the business of doing business with the government. I’m prompted to write today for two reasons; the first is just selfish, I’m hoping someone who knows more than I do will jump in and help me understand what is going on; and the second is that I think there are some things happening because of sequestration that are going to have long term impacts on both small business and the quality of the services the government receives.

For our SDVOSB, the past year has been the slowest year we have ever had in the public sector. Despite growing requests for services in both our public sector and private sector practices, the only place where we have seen interest materialize into real growth has been in the private sector. In the public sector we have fielded more requests for meetings than we’ve ever fielded, and responded to more RFPs than ever before, but it hasn’t translated into actual work. A big part of this has been that many procurements have been delayed or cancelled. The answer from the prospective clients on why has been almost universally the same “Sequestration.”

A recent report produced by the House Committee on small business includes the following statement “While the impacts are far-reaching, they will be particularly significant for small businesses.” I agree that we have felt negative effects, but I think the federal marketplace is going to suffer as well. I think you are going to begin to see highly qualified small businesses shift their marketing efforts towards private sector engagements. This isn’t necessarily because they don’t want to be a part of working in the federal space—they may very well. In fact in our case our website has a piece written by our Managing Partner, Erik Ballinger a former Navy pilot on “Why SDVOSB?” that carries in it his belief that part of the reason we do work for the federal market is because it is part of our continuing public service. This patriotism and dedication to the mission carries into our performance and that of other veteran owned small businesses, and make us a valuable part of any public sector contracting strategy. You can disagree with me, but I think you will be hard pressed to find another group of organizations that are as dedicated to the mission and to this country as this group.

In summary I feel that the public-private partnership particularly on the small business side has been significantly challenged by sequestration. I’ve had some really heartfelt conversations with people in public service recently about this and there doesn’t seem to be many answers or much of a sense that we can expect positive change any time soon. I believe that if agencies don’t take steps, they are going to see some of the best and most dedicated businesses—those that have private sector options – shift their resources away from doing public sector work. Not because they want to, but because they have to because of the conditions that sequestration has put on the market. I’d love to hear from other people on their thoughts about how sequestration is effecting service provision, private sector partners and the mission.

Interested in learning how to work with your local Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business? Check out our “SDVOSB Contracting 101.”

Looking for qualified SDVOSBs? Take a look at Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization’s (OSDBU) VetBiz web site.  This site provides information about the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) efforts to verify Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses (SDBOSBs) and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs).

 

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.