winning government contracts

Sharpen Your Pencils – Q4 Proposal Prep is Here!

As Q4 approaches, government contractors should be readying themselves for the mad dash.

Over a third of government contracts are awarded during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. Government agencies are emptying their budgets and providing contractors a window of opportunity to seriously expand their client base.

Where do I start? Let the courtship begin!

Winning a government contract is very much a courtship. Government customers must know you, like you and have confidence in you. The courtship will take time and energy. Marketing and networking over the next few months are going to be crucial factors in the amount of new business you bring on board. Remember, these government customers are being wooed by every prince and every pauper. You must stand out in all the right ways. Be ready to discuss “what you are going to do for them”, not “what you have done in the past”. Your past merits will certainly come into play, but focus on your future together, as government contractor and government contractee.

In sickness and health, till contract expiration do us part.

With the threat of government shut downs no longer looming and a more stable government budget in place, spending should be ramped up in this fourth quarter.

Make sure your business get a filling piece of the pie!

Not sure where to start? Need help responding to proposals about to hit the market?

…let Arrowhead Solutions, LLC guide and assist.

Meet the Team: Steve Griffin, Contracts Specialist

StephenGriffin200Arrowhead Solutions would like to introduce and welcome  a new team member, Steve Griffin. Steve, PhD, joined Arrowhead Solutions in February 2014 and brings with him over 32 years of experience in Federal Government contracting.

Mr. Griffin has worked a wide variety of contracts types involving acquisition of supplies, services, research, weapons development and testing, and managed healthcare.  In his career, Steve has worked for, worked as a contractor employee providing support to, or worked for firms contracting with the Federal Government.

Steve started his career in contracting in 1981 as a contracts intern with the U. S. Air Force at Luke Air Force.  In 1983 the Air Force moved him to Nellis AFB, and from there he moved to the China Lake facility of the Naval Air Warfare Center in 1985, where he worked until 1992.  In 1992, Steve moved to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, as a subcontract administrator.  From 1994 until 1996 he worked for a small disadvantaged business which held a number of contracts with the FAA for asbestos inspection and monitoring as the manager of contracts at its Denver area office.  From 1996 until 1998 Steve worked for an environmental engineering firm that held contracts with the EPA, Corps of Engineers, the U. S. Forest Service, and other Federal agencies.  In 1998 Steve moved on to a contract administrator position with a firm supporting the contracting operations of the DoD TRICARE program, and in 1999 he returned to the Government with TRICARE as a contract administrator working a number of contracts to acquire healthcare services for active duty military, their family members, and military retirees.  In 2000 Steve was appointed a contracting officer at TRICARE, and was responsible for the administration of five different regional healthcare services contracts over his time as a contracting officer at TRICARE.  In 2006 Steve left TRICARE and contracting to pursue a PhD.  During his time completing his degree program, Steve provided contracting advice and assistance to a firm that held healthcare administration contract with the DoD and the VA.  From February 2013 through January 2014 Steve worked as a contract specialist as an employee of the firm providing support to the GSA, Region 8 FAS office in Lakewood, Colorado working a number of service contracts and task orders.  With the end of his work at GSA, Steve joined Arrowhead Solutions.

Steve holds a BS in Natural Resource Management degree, a Master of Applied Communication degree, and a PhD in Communication Studies degree.   He received a DAWIA Level III certification while with TRICARE, and earned a graduate certificate in ADR from the University of Denver while completing his master’s degree.

How can Stephen and Arrowhead assist your business?

STOP – Don’t pay for SAM Assistance or Registration. Why? It’s FREE and EASY!

Let’s debug this common urban legend of government contracting: Someone tells you have to pay for a “service” in order to register your company with SAM.gov OR you have tocon-artist-alert pay for someone to update your entity’s registration.

So, you’re a government contractor, or you’re wanting to become one. You ask around, “What do I do first?” The responses are muddled, you do some Googling, then you start to really notice the emails offering services to set up or update your registration. WAIT – WHAT?! Services?? I have to pay for this?? The long and short answer: NO

You should never, ever in a million years have to pay for these “services” the emails claim to offer – EVER! The SAM registration takes about 15 minutes to complete, and any updates to it take less than 5 (honestly – it’s that easy)

Be aware of these other “offers” and how the issues can be addressed for free:

1) Year Long Technical “Support”
  • Updates are only as necessary, and often times SAM.gov only needs to be reviewed once a year
  • There is no “support” required
2) SAM.gov Migration Annual Updates
  • Migration happens once; Most likely all government contractors who have registered in the old CCR have already been migrated
3) FAR Updates (if necessary)
  • SAM.gov DOES NOT provide FAR updates!
  • During the annual update of the entity registration, these are already incorporated
4) Basic Changes to Registration (NAICS codes, contact info., contracts awarded, etc.)
  • This is a part of the basic updating
  • Takes 5 minutes!
5) Government Buyer Submission
  • Only if offering disaster response
  • One page within SAM.gov
  • Takes 30 seconds to complete!
6) Verification of Dun & Bradstreet Number (required)
  • Can be done by logging into iUpdate
  • If it is needed, you will be directed after SAM.gov login
7) SAM Registration Completion
  • This is a 15 minute process
  • Can be done for free! (or divide the completing person’s rate by the time it takes – that’s really the cost; just a few dollars of opportunity cost)
8) Verified Vendor Seal of Approval
  • BEWARE – THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT RECOGNIZE THIS “SEAL”!
So, all in all it may take one person a total of maybe, maybe 25 minutes PER YEAR to either register or update SAM.gov. Now, unless you are paying your employees an exorbitant salary, isn’t 25 minutes much more affordable than the approximately $600 price tag companies out there are charging? I’m not an economics specialist by any means, but I think I’ll go with the 25 minutes, and I hope you do the same.

Still need help? Check out Arrowhead Solutions – we’ll lead you in the right direction with a FREE 30-minute consultation. We don’t like to be scammed, and we definitely don’t want our clients to deal with these “support” claims either.

 

Five Years; time to give back to our wonderful readers! Part 1 of 4:

As Arrowhead celebrates our 5th anniversary, we realize that we could not have done it without all the support from you – our readers and clients!

To give back, we’d like to share some government contracting tips and tricks so that you can be the best government contractor possible. Each week, throughout the month of March, we’re going to be posting 5 tips to celebrate 5 years. Cheers!

This week’s post: Government Contracting: Tips and Tricks Part 1 – DCAA and Government Accounting

#1: Ask “How would we fair during a DCAA audit?” Not sure? Try a mock audit with Arrowhead’s experts on the other side of the table before there is DCAA in the picture.

#2: Make sure you know what wrap rate means. Need a refresher?

#3: Be familiar with indirect and direct rates. Read On…

#4: Read RFQs carefully – response instructions must be followed exactly as stated.

#5: Make sure to time your GSA proposal right  (if you have one). Not sure? Just call Arrowhead and we’ll help you sort it out. Don’t know if you really need a GSA? You could be right. Not all companies can benefit from being on a GSA Schedule. Arrowhead will also help you sort this out.

Don’t forget to follow Arrowhead Solutions on Twitter (@arrowheadllc) for daily tips, too!

See you next week!

Introducing ArrowBD – The Complete Government Contracting Solution

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It’s finally here, and tailored for small business government contractors! A complete contract opportunity solution, ArrowBD matches the most current contracting opportunities to your specific niche. One simple, easy-to-read weekly email, and access to your own, well-seasoned Account Analyst, will allow you to feel confident that you will never miss that next big opportunity. Because ArrowBD is backed by the experts at Arrowhead Soltuions, LLC you can be sure that your spending your BD budget intelligently.

Simple. Easy. Opportunity. 

With ArrowBD, you can spend your resources and time on the pursuit of the opportunity itself, or in many cases, opportunities, highlighted by your ArrowBD report (AKA: “push”). You no longer have to spend hours looking through multiple search agents and opportunity tracking sites. We take the burden completely away, and present you with one email, once a week. This removes all the inbox-clutter from daily tracking agents that return results not typically fit for your business. The opportunities received in your weekly ArrowBD “push” are hand-picked by a designated Account Analyst, so you can rest assured that they are a “perfect fit” for your company. The Account Analyst will set up your subscription after just one quick phone call; then, you pick the date on which to receive your opportunities in your inbox in one, clean PDF. We can track based upon NAICS codes, keywords, departments with which you wish to work, and even help you with teaming efforts.

ArrowBD also sets itself apart from other government opportunity search applications currently on the market due to is unique customization options and affordability. The Foundation package (the base: opportunity, news, and events package) can be tailored to add market analysis, capabilities statement creation, the management of other search platforms, custom insights/advice, and more. See the Pricing page for more information on customization options.

ArrowBD was developed out of necessity. Often times, small businesses lack the BD budget of their much larger competitors. How can you get ahead of the competition when you’re going against a large company with a dedicated BD department or assigned contract analyst? Access to your own Account Analyst is included with a subscription of ArrowBD. Don’t worry about waiting to hear back from an “automated” or generic email address that may have more than one person answering when you have time-sensitive questions. With ArrowBD, you can be sure that a seasoned professional is providing you with relevant, accurate information – fast.

News and information are the key to remaining “in the know” when it comes to new opportunities; especially as we move into the fast-paced end of Q4 of 2013. There are sure to be, and have been, many contracts up for grabs. Even with sequestration, the government still plans on spending relevant amounts on small business set-aside projects. With ArrowBD, you can be sure that you are always on top of these new opportunities. Industry day notices, sources sought, requests-for-information (RFIs) – all are delivered in your weekly ArrowBD report when announced.

More questions? We’ve prepared some FAQs – make the right decision – enlist in ArrowBD and feel confident in your pursuit. Feel free to contact us, as well, if you have any other questions related to ArrowBD, or any questions about Arrowhead Solutions full suite of government contract services.

Government Proposal To-Do’s – Great Reminder

I read a simple, yet great article today on WashingtonTechnology.com today that I really wanted to share and comment upon.

The article is “6 Reasons Your Proposals Fail” by Bob Lohfeld.  Here is the link to the article itself  http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2011/10/03/Insights-Lohfeld.aspx?s=wtdaily_181011&Page=1   – but to summarize, Mr. Lohfeld points out 6 simple rules for success.

1) Compliance

2) Responsive

3) Compelling

4) Customer focused

5) Easy to evaluate

6) Appearance

These seem so straightforward to many who have reviewed contractor proposals from a government chair, but from our experience, seem to be sometimes surprising to government contractors, large and small.  In our opinion, the most important is compliance. All too often I’ll review a proposal that was built without a contractor even looking at Sections L and M of the solicitation. Or a contractor will overlook the FAR clause giving direction on how to build a commercial proposal.  Shredding the solicitation to ensure compliance should be task 1 after the go/no-go decision is made to propose.

Second in line in my opinion would be easy to evaluate. Don’t mix up the sections, don’t provide weird numbering or organization that doesn’t flow with the requirements. Even if you hit the ball out of the park in responding to everything, if the evaluator has a hard time finding the answer, it won’t matter how good it is.

Last, on the list is Appearance.  This is important, but as this article states, a pretty proposal doesn’t win on looks alone.

Note what is NOT on the list – up selling, overselling, extra brochures/handouts/CDs, bugging the CO, cutting down the competition, low-balling … and the list goes on.  I think it is time for a Do-Not’s blog! Stay tuned…