A lot has changed in the last four weeks in the United States. Government has migrated to a nearly 100 percent virtual operating model – something previously unheard of and, quite honestly, thought to be impossible. The private sector has all but shut down, with the exception of essential service providers. And we have seen people move mountains to produce, source and deliver the food and medical supplies needed to protect the well-being of the world.
Though we may not know for certain what the future holds, we do know that we must continue to move forward.
As federal, state and local agencies begin to detail their phased economic recovery strategies, both short-term and long-term procurement plans are starting to come into focus, which will be a great relief to many suppliers (like yourself) that are trying to firm up their own recovery plans.
As the Government Technology/e.Republic team confirmed in an April 16 webinar, businesses with goods and/or services offerings in these technology sub-categories will likely find the most opportunities to do business with the government in the near term:
They also indicated that “broadband, tech and physical infrastructure plans could be part of secondary funding streams.” This is in line with the priority spend categories that government experts had indicated early in March and even before the COVID-19 outbreak began. The now-mandated social distancing measures are simply accelerating government modernization efforts.
In fact, the now-planned pace of digital transformation projects was a hot topic on this latest e.Republic webinar. As experts explained, many of governments’ recently-digitized processes still required some type of manual intervention – often in the form of a physical approval signature – while most employees could only access government systems if they were hard-wired into back-end systems via office desktops as a matter of security. Social distancing orders made those processes and policies immediately obsolete. Agencies found themselves scrambling to source secure laptops, expand network capacity and implement new security policies and workflow processes within a matter of days to ensure continuity of government. Though many figured out a solution, most are a band-aid at best.
Now that we’re starting to understand that resuming “normal” operations requires a strong remote workforce, governments of all sizes are trying to figure out how they can shore up their systems, policies and procedures to prevent any more disruptions. They are also racing to implement and refine their citizen communication and program platforms. It could be months before doors open for walk-in services, so governments are working hard to extend their full-service offerings online as we noted last week on the blog.
However, virtual government initiatives are not the only area of opportunity for suppliers right now.
Telehealth, Transportation, Housing and Even Elections Security are Receiving Immediate Investments
Many scientists and healthcare experts advising government leaders on how best to re-open both the public and private sectors have indicated that widespread COVID-19 surveillance, in addition to testing, is needed to ensure we aren’t moving too fast and risking another surge of cases. There is also an urgent push to increase hospital capacity from a staffing, supplies, equipment and infrastructure perspective to ensure they can handle an influx of patients should there be a spike in cases once communities start to ease current “stay at home” restrictions. At the same time, many clinicians are opting to see patients in a telehealth setting to preserve personal protection equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 patients and minimize potential exposures. This all requires a significant spend allocation from the government and a boost in solicitations to find suppliers who have the right expertise to set up these systems and services – and the resources to do it at lightning speed.
e.Republic analysts also reminded webinar attendees that “transit funds are flowing” to the tune of $25 billion as public transportation systems work to increase protections for employees and passengers alike.
Another $850 million is being allocated for immediate public safety improvement actions, including the acquisition of drones, body cams and other devices that could aid with community surveillance and social distancing, and $400 million was assigned to election security efforts.
The “Outlier” Opportunities
It is very likely that you will also see bidding opportunities emerge for suppliers and contractors with unique skill sets and staffing resources. For example, many state agencies are searching for COBOL programmers for the first time in years to aid with the modernization of unemployment websites.
The fourth phase of the stimulus plan, though not finalized, is likely to include funding for things such as smart traffic lights, intelligent transportation solutions, airports, and clean water and wastewater infrastructure.
The point is that COVID-19 did not shut down the government. It actually had the opposite effect, with a slew of rainy-day funds, federal funding, and other revenue/financing vehicles being released to stimulate economic health and speed up modernization efforts in nearly every category.
Be sure to sign up for daily bid notifications from Periscope S2G as things are moving fast and agencies are posting new solicitations every day, sometimes with very tight response deadlines. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to generate revenue for your business and help government maintain continuity for the greater good of your community and our nation.