Complying with Government Contracting Rules Doesn’t Have to Be Painful

Austin, TX

As a Holland & Knight attorney recently noted: “Government contracting is not for the faint of heart.” We’ve heard stories of BidSync customers that used to spend hours driving to state and local government agencies to pick up hard copies of blueprints and specifications for utility and infrastructure bid solicitations. They’d then wait hours in line at the requesting agency’s procurement department to physically hand over their bid response – and sometimes have to wait until someone could verify that the bid was indeed complete and received on time. Every single time they wanted to compete.

And though the process by which vendors engage government agencies to uncover new bid solicitations and submit proposals has drastically changed in today’s online-powered world, so have the “rules of engagement.” In fact, one of the most challenging requirements of government contracting is indeed the “requirements” themselves. There are rules, regulations, acts, and statutory requirements. Then there are Executive Orders and protests. And though most public sector organizations rely on the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) as their procurement guide, nearly every federal, state, and local agency will issue their own guidance on vendor qualifications, performance expectations, invoicing and payments, and project or contract-specific terms and agreements.

In other words, compliance with government contracting rules could be a job of its own. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a painful job. There are a lot of resources available to you as vendors that will keep you on track:

  • The Small Business Association (SBA) is a great place to start for entrepreneurs or, well, small businesses. They have an entire section dedicated to government contracting tips and updates.
  • Lawyers, especially those specializing in government or labor law, will ensure you comply with the latest updates to the Service Contract Labor Standards in the FAR and Bid Protest guidelines from the Government Accountability Office. They can also provide counsel as needed on how you should handle any violations or discrepancies, and represent you if claims regarding implied certifications, for example, are brought against you by the customer.
  • Though, the customer should be your primary partner. By going to the source itself, you’ll not only get the official debrief on current requirements and source selection procedures, but you’ll build relationships that could payoff exponentially. For example, you’ll be able to get the scoop on the scope of solicitations planned for the next month or quarter at each federal, state, or local agency. And you’ll build name recognition with buyers, which can help when they start calling around to secure Requests for Quotes. Plus, the customer is the one most likely to be “in the know” about how various components of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will impact government contractors, how Prime/Sub disputes are handled per the FAR or Defense Far Supplement (DFARS).. They can also explain the specific requirements of a prime contract, advise you on how funding crises, such as budget freezes, will impact your contract if and when they occur, and keep you apprised of the latest cybersecurity regulatory requirements for each RFP or bid solicitation. Therefore, it’s critical that you monitor government agency websites, attend government procurement events and vendor fairs, or – as always – just pick up the phone and talk to procurement officials at the agencies you’re targeting for new or continued business.

Of course, our public sector procurement professionals here at Periscope Holdings are always available to answer your questions and point you in the right direction if they don’t have the answer. Make sure to bookmark our resources page and blog and check it at least once a week for updates on federal, state, and local agency news, opportunities, and trends, and feel free to contact us anytime.

Key Takeaway

Just as a sole source contract can limit the government’s ability to achieve its price, quality, and performance goals, choosing to rely on a single source of information regarding government contractor’s compliance requirements or contract obligations can be detrimental to your performance record and, thus, hurt your government business revenue in the future. You really need a team of experts at your disposal to keep you abreast of annual changes to the “rules of engagement” in government contracting since, in reality, those changes can occur at any time with any number of “authorities”.