Category Archives: Small Business

What is a Government Contract Stop Work Order?


“SMALL TO FEDS” By Ken Larson

Stop work orders are serious matters and require special handling to comply with government direction and to manage risk.  

Continuing effort on a contract after receipt of a stop work is high risk. Astutely managing your options is a far better approach. 

During the Federal Government Shutdown of 2013 many enterprises received stop work orders on contracts.  This article will specify the purpose of a stop work order, actions that must be taken upon receipt of the order and the relationship of the order to resumption of effort, funding constraints, contract terminations and associated business risk.


The purpose of a stop work order is to immediately bring to a halt the effort on a contract and any further performance and related cost against that contract.

It is usually necessary when unforeseen circumstances necessitate the action, such as the government shutdown or similar exigencies. An example of a clause that appears regularly in most government contracts, reserving the government’s rights to stop work, is as follows:

“Stop-Work Order (Aug 1989)

(a) The Contracting Officer may, at any time, by written order to the Contractor, require the Contractor to stop all, or any part, of the work called for by this contract for a period of 90 days after the order is delivered to the Contractor, and for any further period to which the parties may agree. The order shall be specifically identified as a stop-work order issued under this clause. Upon receipt of the order, the Contractor shall immediately comply with its terms and take all reasonable steps to minimize the incurrence of costs allocable to the work covered by the order during the period of work stoppage. Within a period of 90 days after a stop-work is delivered to the Contractor, or within any extension of that period to which the parties shall have agreed, the Contracting Officer shall either—

(1) Cancel the stop-work order; or

(2) Terminate the work covered by the order as provided in the Default, or the Termination for Convenience of the Government, clause of this contract.

(b) If a stop-work order issued under this clause is canceled or the period of the order or any extension thereof expires, the Contractor shall resume work. The Contracting Officer shall make an equitable adjustment in the delivery schedule or contract price, or both, and the contract shall be modified, in writing, accordingly, if—

(1) The stop-work order results in an increase in the time required for, or in the Contractor’s cost properly allocable to, the performance of any part of this contract; and

(2) The Contractor asserts its right to the adjustment within 30 days after the end of the period of work stoppage; provided, that, if the Contracting Officer decides the facts justify the action, the Contracting Officer may receive and act upon the claim submitted at any time before final payment under this contract.

(c) If a stop-work order is not canceled and the work covered by the order is terminated for the convenience of the Government, the Contracting Officer shall allow reasonable costs resulting from the stop-work order in arriving at the termination settlement.

(d) If a stop-work order is not canceled and the work covered by the order is terminated for default, the Contracting Officer shall allow, by equitable adjustment or otherwise, reasonable costs resulting from the stop-work order.

(End of clause) “


A stop work order is to be taken literally.  Under a stop work order the government makes no guarantees it will take any further deliveries whatsoever, regardless of the contract type. A stop work order means just that.  Stop work and stop incurring cost.

Upon receipt of a stop work order you have no guarantee of payment for any transaction date-stamped in your accounting system after the date of the stop work order (or the commencement date of a stop work order specified in a Contracting Officer’s Letter).

I suggest clients receiving these orders close the charge numbers applicable until the stop work order is lifted with an order to resume effort and immediately notify any effected suppliers and subcontractors to do the same.

To the degree the government has made progress payments or has any other form of payment invested in the product to date it has ownership rights in the product. If that is the case treat the physical material work-in-process as government owned, store it as such without performing any more effort on it and await further disposition.

To the degree the government has not paid anything on the contract or delivery order they have no ownership rights to the product and you are free to complete it and sell it to another customer (commercial or government) that has not stopped work. If the government recommences the order, quote a new price and delivery from ground zero.

At the bottom line a stop work is blunt and to the point.  Treat it as if you will never hear from this customer again to manage the risk.

To the degree you do hear from the CO again and he or she has the funding to recommence work, be prepared to submit a proposal for what it will take to start the effort and a realistic delivery schedule to complete the it, but do not build any retroactive costs incurred during the stop work period into your logic and expect to bill them; they may not come to payment fruition.


Note that in the above cited clause the government discusses resumption of work and contract terminations as options.

Hypothetically at some future date the government could terminate the  contract without taking delivery and the contractor will then submit a termination proposal for recovery of costs and disruption.

When a stop work order is lifted  the contract or the delivery order is open to negotiation on both price and delivery under the equitable adjustment and changes clauses in the FAR provisions of the contract.

At that time, you should inform the government that you are pleased to resume work, but under revised price and delivery conditions as specified in a proposal for equitable adjustment

You should not resume work until a contract or work order amendment is received granting the price and delivery relief to contract requirements commensurate with negotiation results under your proposal for equitable adjustment.

In short, time is money.

If your contract was adequately funded and remains so when work commences and assuming you negotiate acceptable terms and conditions you can proceed with low risk.  If the funding on the contract is low at the time of recommencement, it is recommended you request additional funding and handle that matter in accordance with the article linked below.


Micro Mentor Volunteer Counselor Ken Larson assists many small businesses with their planning and operations processes. He spent over 30 years in federal government program and contract management and 10 years in small business consulting. Ken receives many inquiries from small companies wishing to enter or enhance their position in federal government contracting. Volunteer time, books, articles, and resources are 100% free through Small to Feds maintained exclusively for small business.


5 Steps to Stand Out From The Government Contracting Crowd In 2018


Small Business Standing Out in a Crowd


“How can they stand out from the crowd to get some of those precious government contract dollars?

Several things come to mind but these five are usually at the top of my list. I have included a reference for each to a previous WT article.”


We all understand that this market is driven by relationships: who you know, who knows you, what they think of you and you of them, and what you might be able to do together or for one another.

In the summer of 2012 I wrote an article on networking, which is a big part of the relationship puzzle. Where you choose to spend your time is critical. You have limited time and there are always many venues where you can network. Picking the venues which yield the best return on investment, where you can meet prospects, customers, partners, media and others, is a key component to help you stand out where it matters. You must be seen. Here is my column.


I have been in numerous meetings where an executive will have goals, sometimes nebulous, sometimes well-defined, but they lack a strategy for reaching the goals. Knowing your goals is important, but without a game plan you will likely go nowhere and you will certainly not stand out. Read more here.


Clearly enunciate what you bring to the table. This can be a combination of things that make you and your company unique, or it can one really strong area of competence.

Combinations can include technical expertise, deep relationships with an agency, SMEs, owning a spot on preferred contracts, set-aside status and more.

The more you can differentiate in terms that appeal to government buyers the more you stand out. Read more.

Agency (account) based marketing (ABM)

I wrote about this back in November, but it is worth repeating.

Since the mid-1990s I have been advising companies to maximize their presence in agencies where they are known before they try to migrate to “greener pastures,” which are often pastures where they are not know. If you are selling in a cabinet level department to one or two divisions, why not expand to other divisions within that department? This is often a saner approach than migrating to another cabinet department or independent agency.

It is much easier to stand out when you are doing more business with your best customer(s).

Social selling

This is another recent column topic. Social selling is an adjunct to traditional selling, leveraging social networking platforms to start and manage relationships with customers, prospects, partners and others.

Social selling is the process of finding buyers and influencers on a social networking platform (I prefer LinkedIn), getting on their radar and sharing information that will make you and your company stand out from the competition. There are many social selling tactics that you can use, depending on who you are trying to influence.

LinkedIn is pervasive in the government contracting community and by adding valuable insights on social media you will most definitely stand out.

You can’t stand out by being part of the herd.”

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at





Key Processes for Winning Proposals


Writing Winning Proposals


“Don’t be fooled, winning proposals are created, and do not simply materialize from some magical force. It’s not magic, but a disciplined process.

By adhering to key principles and steps, such as: careful planning, time management, attention to detail, and assembling a team of experts, your organization can create your own recipe for success.”

“The often lengthy and detailed process involved with developing winning proposals for new government opportunities can sometimes seem almost mythical.

You decode a requirements document that is hundreds of pages long and identify a combination of recommendations from limited or conflicting information, past performance experience which doesn’t necessarily match the current opportunity exactly, and somehow propose a price you will have to live with for five years or more.

The bottom-line is that, while writing cost proposals requires following a basic formula, it is critical to develop a multi-level, detailed plan to include all data points and requests to ensure a timely turnaround and delivery. Following a process ensures your proposal is compliant (meets all of the government requirements) and accurate (no mathematical, grammatical, or presentation errors). Failure to be either compliant or accurate is a sure way to lose — regardless of how great your solution is.

Here are some ‘pro tips’ from our experts to take the guesswork out of your cost proposal development process:

Arm Yourself with Tools for Success- Key Processes for a Winning Approach

From the get-go, it is essential to begin a proposal response approach that will result in a consistent, repeatable new business approach that wins time and again.

In a RFP review, for example:

  • Always be sure you read the full document up-front and ensure you have all of the relevant information required to respond accurately and comprehensively.
  • Document key questions right away, as well as identify areas where you’ll need more detail. Also, remember that the best time to meet the client, gather information, develop your team, and plan the proposal response is before the RFP is ever released.
  • Assemble your team and develop your production schedule that highlights key milestones and backs into known due dates. At this stage of the game, it is critical to involve your pricing team right out of the gate and before the RFP drops (at the capture process). This is a critical step because of the potential impacts your teammates and sub-contractors can exert on your cost decisions.
  • Always create a Compliance Matrix. The best proposal is often eliminated from consideration all because of a minor compliance error. To avoid this happening to you, put together a matrix to organize all steps, responsibilities, activities, deliverables, and team members so you can keep your eyes on the prize (that finished response!) and track progress at-a-glance while keeping communication lines open. The matrix should list everything the RFP requires so nothing is missed, and it also makes it easy for reviewers to check off the boxes to ensure you hit all necessary points.
  • Determine the Cost Schedule right away. This includes an assessment of indirect rates, using a model to calculate inputs and additional costs beyond RFP requirements, calculate your wrap rate, and analyze basis and pools, as well as ceiling impacts.

Tricks of the Trade – The Secret Sauce

  • Get Started Early. Particularly with cost decisions, time is a critical factor to be sure your data is accurate. Building in the over-communication and transparency among your team members is important to finishing the response in a timely manner, but also to allow for early intervention and mitigation of any roadblocks that may arise.
  • Develop a production framework and strategy early, and use it often. Implement a phased, targeted structure to your cost meetings during a response development process. Doing so early on makes it much easier to adjust for changes in requirements or information as they come up as you already have your framework established.
  • Master Excel. Consolidate data entry onto single tabs for easy management and recall, use color coded values as opposed to formulas where possible, check formatting, data validation, and perform independent quality checks on your model as you go to ensure everything is on track.
  • Manage your Sub-Contractors Effectively. Create templates for key deliverables and document responses to distribute to subcontractors, helping to ensure a consistent work product – and less editing, formatting, and merging later on – while establishing a structure of regular communication and status updates throughout each project stage.
  • Own the Narrative. Refer back to your compliance matrix regularly, create an outline based on the RFP, and create your narrative early in the process so it can grow and evolve as the process unfolds. The narrative is where you sell your price and clarify all bases of estimates.
  • Determine Labor Rates and Support Your Proposed Cost Elements. Typically, the distributor of the RFP will tell you what they are looking for. You’ll need to know early on what exactly you’ll be proposing to address this need. To do this, you’ll need to gather as much data as you can up-front and map requirements from the RFP against company, prime, and labor categories.

Remember- especially in the government sector, you are not just making a case about what is needed to address an identified objective, you are also selling what the associated costs will be.

Having a strong and competitive cost strategy for each of your cost estimates (staffing, direct labor, subcontractors, other direct costs, indirect rates, and fee/profit) is key to increasing win likelihood.

Doing this right, with compelling support, will ensure you are able to successfully defend your case in your response and demonstrate that your proposed solution – and the associated costs – are realistic and reasonable.

How To Develop a Tight Production Machine

At the top of the list is to always plan ahead! The enemy of timely production and accurate completion of tasks is rushing to the finish. It’s a good idea to dedicate at least three days for review – whether in soft copy or printed.

It is also a good idea to conduct your pricing reviews ahead of the last minute to allow for time to correct quality control issues, formatting (which is a compliance issue), and others. Allow five days here in your production schedule, ideally.

Other tips? Color code everything on your spreadsheet documents- this allows you to keep things organized, but also to know on the cost side which sheets are to be printed and submitted, and which stay with you.

Leverage all of the power of your team here as well; they are often your best proofers!

The Bottom-Line

Overall, the secret to a winning proposal process and cost structure is not a mystery. Proposals take time and effort – maximize both by ensuring you plan early, assemble a strong team, develop a compliance matrix, create a tight production schedule, use your narrative to sell your approach, and make sure you provide a compelling cost story. Remember – compliance and accuracy are key.

Adhering to these principles will ensure your cost proposal isn’t just a mix of ingredients. Instead, it is a well-formed recipe which produces a very tempting choice for the government.”

About the Author

Matthew McKelvey is the president of the McKelvey Group, a financial consulting firm in Gaithersburg, Md.





Government Law and Regulation Compliance Fatigue Syndrome is Real


Compliance Fatigue Synderome


“A values-based compliance program seeks to encourage leaders and employees to follow a set of core values that should result in more effective compliance.

The culture of the organization is so internalized that employees are automatically asking: “What is the right thing to do in this situation?” This is better than relying on a memorized rule.”

“Forget chronic fatigue syndrome. A more serious ailment may be compliance fatigue syndrome. Which is more ruinous? Hint: One may result in time spent in a federal correctional institution.

In modern slang, is compliance fatigue syndrome even a thing? Unfortunately, it is a thing, but arguably it is a confused thing. Worse yet, if there is talk of it in an organization, it’s a red flag — a big red flag. It means that the state of affairs is far worse than you believed.

What is compliance fatigue syndrome?

Urban Dictionary defines it as “a state of chronic fatigue induced by having to constantly maintain compliance with the ever-increasing variety of rules, regulations and processes created by middle management bureaucrats in both public and private organizations.”

This frustration does not arise from an issue of whether to comply with legislation and regulations that have been lawfully passed and promulgated. This kind of frustration is with lawmakers and regulators who may be guilty of overregulation, which is ultimately a political issue.

Compliance fatigue syndrome is a misnomer in this situation. It is one thing to be frustrated at the increasing regulatory burdens placed on contractors and therefore “fatigued,” but it is quite a different thing to be frustrated with compliance itself. The bottom line is this should not be called “compliance” fatigue but rather overregulation fatigue.

However, there may be resentment of time and money spent on compliance. In effect, this translates into the belief that compliance is a money pit with no benefit to the organization — a revenue drain rather than a revenue maker.

Budgets are tight in today’s organizations, and money spent on compliance means that money won’t be spent on revenue-producing programs. A manager might want to maximize spending on an important programmatic budget than on what may be considered “overhead.” Unfortunately, that perspective betrays a culture that puts very little confidence in compliance.

Instead of viewing compliance programs as strengthening the organization, this attitude views them as just an obligation with little or no benefits. The proper attitude is to see how compliance is an outworking of the corporate culture that places great value on doing things right and making ethical corporate decisions. In the long run, an ethical company will gain a competitive advantage and will avoid devastating investigations and their consequences.

Resentment of the authority of compliance professionals is another symptom of compliance fatigue syndrome. Managers, workers, lawyers and auditors may resent having to take time out of their regular projects to deal with compliance officers who need information quickly. Additionally, managers may resent workers saying things in confidence or beyond their control.

Sometimes functions previously handled by other offices may now be controlled by the compliance office. For example, human resources may have dealt with all employee complaints and interviewed all employees, but certain complaints must now be handled by the compliance office. To be sure, how compliance professionals work with others will either contribute to this kind of fatigue or prevent it. However, in all cases, this type of internal power struggle fails to recognize the bigger picture and how the organization will benefit from effective programs.

Another indicator of compliance fatigue is resentment of stale and repetitive programs. Just as a lecture on nutrition doesn’t cause overweight people to lose weight, ethics training alone won’t prevent employees from making ethical mistakes. Dietary lectures may be helpful, and even necessary, but they are not sufficient for effective weight loss. Likewise, compliance and ethics lectures alone, however brilliant, will deter very few ethical lapses. This is especially true if the same lecture is repeated year after year. Compliance professionals need to work hard at making training fresh and relevant.

How can compliance fatigue syndrome be prevented?

A compliance program that encourages compliance with the law and regulations is a good start. The most effective programs, however, change the culture of the organization and the people in them.

They have a set of core values that are clearly communicated and modeled by organizational leaders.

This sort of ingrained attitude results from modeling leaders and managers within the organization who know that compliance will lead to more business success.

A values-based compliance program meets and exceeds what is required by federal authorities. The Federal Acquisition Regulation and other rules require a contractor to “promote an organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct and a commitment to compliance with the law.” This is how to effectively prevent talk of compliance fatigue syndrome.

In conclusion, to the extent that compliance fatigue is viewed as legitimate and is voiced, trouble will follow. It may be a veiled threat to effective compliance. It could be a way to undercut effective transformation of the corporate culture; undermine the authority and effectiveness of compliance officials; or gain an advantage in an internal corporate power struggle.

In contrast, employees in healthy corporate cultures are asking how to do the right thing in all circumstances and are grateful for help in doing so.”


Brian D. Miller is a shareholder with Rogers Joseph O’Donnell, PC,, specializing in government investigations, government contracts and suspension/debarment. He also serves as corporate monitor. He was formerly inspector general for the General Services Administration. He can be contacted at




8 Lessons Learned from the Government Contracting Marketing Trenches


GovCon 8 Lessons Learned


“As a marketing consultant, it is incumbent upon me to stay current with the market. If I don’t, my value is reduced.

Over the past 33 years, I have noticed some things that remain constant, the immutable laws of our market.”


This is a relationship driven market. The Small Business Administration will tell companies new to the market that subcontracting is a great way to get started- go meet some primes. You go to the small business liaison officer of the prime and expect to be added to a contract. Not gonna happen.

All successful companies in our market have relationships that are critical to their growth. These relationships include other contractors, OEMs, channel players (VADs and VARs), SDVOSBs, HubZones and other small business set-asides, media, research, banking/capital, legal, and more.

Each of us has preferred partners for almost everything we do. Getting on that short list of preferred partners is job #1.


This is an insular market, so when a person or company does something bad, word gets around. If the miscreant is habitual, it is known by many, if not most.

When someone is laid off, if they have a good reputation, their network will help them land a new position.

I get most of my business by 3 Rs: referral, reputation and return engagements from people I’ve worked with before, often when they move to a new company.

Your reputation as an individual is probably your most valuable asset in this market.


Regardless of your role, you need to be known for something. You can be known as a hard worker, smart worker, an expert in a technical area, management skills, and expert on doing business with a specific agency, a whiz at marketing or PR, sales, BD, and on and on.

Average doesn’t cut it. Work hard at being good at what you do and you will be known for something.


The changes in the market are constant, and often off-the-radar.

Since the early 1990s, computer security has evolved and morphed into literally hundreds of disciplines.

Since I’ve been in business marketing “basics” may look the same, but the venues have changed radically.

How the government buys continues to evolve (some might say devolve) but we have to stay current if we are to continue winning business.

Pay attention to the nuances and adjust accordingly.


This follows closely to your evolution. Find the information sources most germane to your niche and take time to peruse, with the occasional deep dive.

My info feeds include Washington Technology, FedTimes, GovExec, FCW, GCN, Google Alerts, JD Supra, Marketing Profs, Market Connections. Immix blog, Bloomberg studies, listening to WFED while driving, Potomac Tech Wire, daily feeds from LinkedIn, Social Media Today, Google+ LI Expert group, more.

You can’t know it all but you can sure as hell know more than most of your competitors.


Networking has always been a key component of this market, and there are many venues for networking including associations, briefings, conferences, open houses, private groups (often these are focused on a particular agency or technology) and more.

You need to select the venues that best suit your goals, and you need to participate as often as you can.


If you read about a key influencer in your niche in FCW, or hear an interview on WFED – what do you do?

I look them up on LinkedIn. I want to know more about them and I want to know if we share connections and I want to know more about their background. I want to map a way to connect.

LinkedIn is the best marketing tool I’ve run across in my career, and it baffles me that so many people use it so poorly.

Use LinkedIn to find and connect with partners, prospects, customers, media- anyone who impacts your niche in the market. It is a great tool for managing the network you build.


I have three inviolable rules: I don’t do things that are not fun (I only do things I am good at); I don’t do things I can’t tell my wife and children about; and I don’t take crap from things that breathe.

If you don’t have some rules you don’t know where the boundaries are.


None of us can afford to operate on old information.

None of us can afford to have a bad reputation.

We all need our networks.

Final observation: There are no stars in this market. The market is the star.”


“I am starting my 34th year as Amtower & Company in a few weeks, will be celebrating starting year 12 on Federal News Radio in February, am starting my ninth year as a contributor to Washington Technology a little later in 2018, and. I am also an adjunct professor at the George Washington University graduate school in the government contracting Master’s program. I also speak frequently at public and private conferences and meetings.

An exec at a small company once told me that if I had time to do all this, I wouldn’t have time for him.

I am compelled to write, interview and speak much in the same way John Steinbeck wrote at the beginning of Travels with Charley: “I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself.”

Putting my thoughts in public gives me the opportunity for feedback that I would otherwise lack. This keeps me close to that cutting edge. We all need something to keep us close to the edge.”








Government Shutdown Continues to Loom


Government shutdown


“Clearly the potential impacts of shutting down the federal government go far beyond federal workers being out of work for a while.

During the 2013 shutdown the government issued more than 10,000 stop-work orders for work and projects being done by contractors, and there were reports of numerous temporary layoffs by contractors.”  [What is a Government Contract Stop Work Order? ]

“We narrowly avoided a government shutdown last week, and may well still face one at the end of this month. Some folks might think that a federal government shutdown won’t affect them. But such thinking fails to consider the full scope of would result if the government did shut down.

Our last government shutdown, in 2013, serves as real guide for what to expect if we face another one. Four years ago the House of Representatives (controlled by the Republicans) tried to use the budget process to eliminate funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). The Senate (controlled by the Democrats) and the President were unwilling to agree to that. Without new budget funds being passed by both chambers of Congress, most of the federal government had to shut down once the old funding legislation expired. The shutdown lasted 16 days and had a tremendous impact.

No pay

One of the obvious and most direct impacts of any shutdown is the fact that hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed, which means held out of work and not payed. The latest workforce analysis estimates the federal government employed over 2 million people in 2015. Exactly how many go out of work during a shutdown depends on how many are considered essential and how many agencies get separate funding approved by Congress before the shutdown occurs. During the 2013 shutdown an estimated 850,000 federal workers were furloughed and missed a combined 6.6 million work days. Consider how big an impact it would have if close to one million people suddenly stop getting paid with no idea on when work will start again. This will interfere with many families’ ability to pay for their mortgage, groceries, utility bills, tuition, and more.

And it isn’t just agency personnel who are affected. The federal government employs a vast number of contractors and grantees to assist with government offices and programs across almost every agency. That same workforce analysis estimated that the government had more than 5.2 million contract and grant employees more than a decade ago. During the 2013 shutdown the government issued more than 10,000 stop-work orders for work and projects being done by contractors, and there were reports of numerous temporary layoffs by contractors. So there will likely be a significant number of private sector jobs also on hold.

Economic impacts

Beyond the hardship of families with federal employees and federal contractors, that missing pay has ripple effects out into the economy. When people aren’t getting paychecks and don’t know when the next one is coming, they understandably reduce their spending as much as possible—fewer holiday gifts, no movie tickets, cancelled travel, no dinners, and more. And that reduced spending impacts those businesses and their employees.

This impact on spending decisions can start even before the shutdown itself. Just the threat of an impending shutdown could influence spending patterns for federal employees and contractors. We are in the heavy retail period of the holiday season, a period of time that can decide if some retail companies are profitable or not for the whole year. Reduced spending by close to a million households could have a major impact on the bottom line for retail companies.

The Office of Management and Budget estimated that the 2013 shutdown, which occurred in the fall, cost the U.S. economy between $2 billion and $6 billion. An analysis by Standard & Poor’s projected the long-term impact to be a $24 billion loss to the U.S. economy.

National Parks, monuments, museums closed

The federal government oversees hundreds of national parks, monuments, memorials, museums, and historic sites across the country that on average handle more than 700,000 visitors each day. These include the Grand Canyon, the recently reduced Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the Smithsonian, the National Zoo, and many other locations in almost every state. Closing these locations means disrupting many tourists’ plans but also means lost revenue from their spending.

In 2013 the National Park Service estimated that the 16-day closure meant almost $500 million in lost revenue. And that doesn’t include the potential loss to local businesses of an estimated $76 million—the amount spent in communities near these locations—because of fewer travelers or changed plans.

Veterans’ benefits

The government provides lots of benefits to veterans which would be disrupted in the event of a shutdown—processing disability claims, training, support services, and more. Many of these services are important to veterans and their families and time-sensitive. Asking veterans to wait after they have provided their service to the country seems a betrayal. And a government shutdown not only stops these services but can create large backlogs that will delay delivery of the benefits even when government offices reopen.

The 2013 shutdown slowed processing on veteran disability claims and closed services that helped veterans understand and access their benefits including call centers and hotlines. Veterans also lost access to vocational training, education counseling services, and workshops designed to help transition to civilian life and employment.

Helping vulnerable families

There are real concerns that a shutdown, especially a longer one, could threaten federal programs that support mothers, children, and families in need. Programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often called food stamps, could be in danger of disruption from a shutdown. The program helps millions of poor families get enough food for their children. In 2013 SNAP was not affected because there were funds already allocated through the Recovery Act to sustain the program. But those funds are no longer available today, so a shutdown could threaten the program.

The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program helps approximately 9 million mothers and families get nutritional food and health care. In 2013, states had enough money to operate the WIC program during the 16 days, but if the shutdown had lasted longer the states would have run out of money and been forced to halt the program. It is unclear how long states could operate during a new shutdown.

Head Start is a well-known federally funded preschool program that provides support, nutrition, and care to millions of under-privileged kids. During the 2013 shutdown, Head Start programs in various states had to close, until private philanthropists stepped in to provide the needed funds. How much a new shutdown would affect Head Start kids will depend on how much money states have on hand for the program when the shutdown starts and how long it lasts.

Food safety

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would almost certainly have to suspend most of the food safety inspections and enforcement programs during a shutdown. Of course that doesn’t mean the food stops getting produced, shipped, bought, and consumed—just that consumers can’t be as confident that the food is safe. During the 2013 shutdown the FDA reportedly halted many inspections and cut back on examination, sampling, and analysis of imported foods.

Medical Research

A federal shutdown will likely require that the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suspend many of their operations. During the 2013 shutdown nearly three-quarters of NIH staff and two-thirds of CDC staff were furloughed. Patients wouldn’t be able to enroll in clinical trials run by the NIH, and the CDC would have to discontinue tracking illness patterns such as flu, hepatitis, and Tuberculosis to direct prevention efforts and avoid larger outbreaks. Research grants into medical treatments and other scientific issues would be delayed. Applications to approve new drugs, generic drugs, and medical devices would also get put on hold. It is impossible to predict the exact impact on patients but even short delays could have serious health consequences for some.


It [a government shutdown] would affect people across the country—veterans, small business owners, families, tourists, patients, consumers. And the above list only covers some of the services that would be impacted; such services as passport processing, federal loans, small business supports, issuing new social security cards, and so much more would grind to a halt during a shutdown. Congress and the administration should make every effort to avoid a future shutdown or even the threat of a shutdown.”


How Ellen Lord Plans to Reduce Pentagon Acquisition Time By 50 Percent


Cut Pentagon Aquisition time 50%


“The Pentagon’s top acquisition official plans to cut the time for early lead procurement by 50 percent.

A future goal of compressing the timeline of request for proposals to contract on major defense acquisition programs from two and a half years down to about 12 months.”


“Much of the strategy revolves around things the department can do, right now, to try and speed up the front-end of the acquisition timeline, Ellen Lord told a Thursday hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

For instance, Lord’s plan starts with two moves that she believes the department can do with existing authorities: “Incentivizing contractors to submit responsive proposals in 60 days or less,” and “implementing an electronic departmentwide acquisition streamlining tool.”

Similarly, she pointed to two examples of pilot programs where she believes AT&L has the authority to draw down the lead time for programs. Those examples – the C-130J retrofit kits, and the Japanese Global Hawk foreign military sale requirement – could prove a way forward for the department as a whole.

The goal of those two programs is to prove the Pentagon can get those on contract in 280 days or less of the request for proposals, with the eventual goal of getting it down to 180 days from RFP to contract award.

“If we were granted the statutory authority, on sole source procurements, it would allow us to use our judgment to reduce the amount of cost and pricing data we would require when we have cost transparency with the companies with which we do business,” Lord told the SASC.

Lord is also looking at ways to specifically speed up the FMS process, which she raised as an issue during her time in industry. As a result, she said DoD is looking at “prepositioning production contracts” for yet-to-be-determined FMS requirements.

Those would essentially be prepared contracts with language where the department can almost “fill in the blanks” with the details, Lord said, which would reduce the timeline – yet another step to speed up the start of the acquisition process.

Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., appeared pleased to hear Lord’s ideas, interjecting several times during Lord’s opening statement to ask for clarification on specific points and offering broad support to the idea that DoD needs to take chances to speed up the process.

“You need to take more risk [and] we recognize Congress can make that more difficult,” McCain said, before emphasizing that Lord and the rest of the Pentagon acquisition network needs to keep in touch with Congress to explain the work they are doing.

“We would rather have a small failure that teaches us something [in the] acquisition process than deal with a multibillion dollar program that becomes ‘too big to fail,’” the chairman said, to which Lord responded: “We’re going to work with you and your teams to demonstrate how we do it and we’re going to come back to you [if we need] new authorities.”






Q&A Reference Library On Small Business Government Contracting And The Military Industrial Complex


Quora Questions with Answers by Ken that have undergone 677,000 Views on Small Business Government Contracting and the U.S. Military Industrial Complex Ken Larson Reference Library on Quora


Pentagon Building Wish List for New Technology Spending


Pentagon Technology Wish List


“The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer is drafting a list of desired technologies as part of a new effort to coordinate the Defense Department’s research and development, including at U.S. laboratories and government-funded research centers.

“We think that we have to make choices and focus in a limited number of areas and put our funding on it,” Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters at the Reagan National Defense Forum, an annual gathering of defense industry and government leaders here.”


“The goal of the new “modernization strategy” is to “make sure that we are aligned across the services, across all of OSD [the Office of Secretary of Defense] on a strategy that gives us greater overmatch against our adversaries,” Lord said. “In order to do that — particularly with constrained budgets — we need to have a very tight strategy that makes choices and makes sure we are taking all of our resources, all of our funding, and aligning those.”

The strategy is expected to be finished in 2018, Lord said.

One technology that will likely make the investment list is hypersonics, which use air-breathing engines to drive missiles six times the speed of sound. “We have a series of programs, some at DARPA, some within OSD, and those are moving along well,” Lord said.

The new plan would coordinate projects funded by the individual military service laboratories, federally-funded research-and-development centers, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, she said.

“I think we can align all of these different efforts and by aligning them really make even more strides,” Lord said. “So I’m very bullish about it.”


5 Marketing Best Practices to Drive Your Brand to the Future


Marketing Best Practices.jpg


“The world of government marketing has been slow to change, but that’s no longer the case, and increasingly, contractors are adopting best practices from the private sector.

These five strategies, when executed well, can offer enormous benefits.”

“No single strategy can guarantee success in government marketing. But my firm’s recent research reveals five marketing strategies that can significantly benefit government contractors.

1. Gain Market Insights through Research

The biggest challenge in improving your firm’s government marketing impact is increasing your understanding of your audience’s changing business needs. Research can reveal insights into the challenges facing current and prospective clients, strengths and weaknesses of both yourself and competitors, and most critically, how you’re different.

What’s more, firms that conduct formal research on their target markets grow faster and are more profitable. In a recent study, we found that 34 percent of high growth firms do systematic market research at least quarterly, unlike their slow-growth peers.

2. Follow a Focused Strategy

Our research also found that firms benefit from narrowly focused strategies.

The reason is that the broader a firm’s appeal, the more numerous are its competitors — and the more difficult it is for the firm to stand out. That being said, there are a few differentiators that consistently outperform others. For example, firms that offer a niche service are 25 percent more likely to be high growth firms, while firms that specialize in a particular industry are an impressive 89 percent more likely to become high growth firms.

We’ve identified three reasons that such niche approaches are effective:

  1. They allow a firm to be more visible to a smaller audience, making it easier and less expensive to reach them.
  2. The firms are more likely to be seen as top experts in their field, allowing them to close business more quickly — and charge premium fees.
  3. Smaller, well-defined markets are easier to understand and monitor, positioning these firms to introduce innovative solutions as their clients’ needs evolve.

3. Build Your Brand around Expertise

Our research reveals that expertise is the number one selection criteria decision makers use when building the list of firms to consider. More to the point, in 72 percent of cases, expertise was the single factor that tipped the scale in favor of the selected firm. Even in a contract-driven environment, expertise — and the extent to which your brand is built around it — helps build the visibility firms needs to stay in front of, and on top of, the right opportunities.

Fortunately, there are ways a firm can make its expertise more visible to target prospects. The most effective is to bring the expertise directly to the audience, even before they are ready to buy. Some of the best ways to do so are by speaking at events, publishing articles and blog posts, and conducting free webinars.

4. A Balanced Approach to Business Development

Our findings also show that contractors get the most traction when their business development efforts balance networking with speaking and publishing activities. Networking by itself can produce useful leads — but when a contractor is also engaging with potential buyers through compelling content delivered at speaking events or through published articles, their audiences are that much further into the sales funnel. Contractors that communicate with prospective buyers through both online and traditional platforms are also better positioned for success as marketing becomes increasingly digital.

5. The Impact — and Implications of — Attracting Top Talent

Professional services firms are only as good as their talent. After all, it is their professionals’ expertise that firms are selling. But many firms struggle to attract and retain top talent. A lack of qualified job candidates can severely limit a firm’s future prospects and put a ceiling on growth.

The good news is that the most important criteria that top talent looks for when selecting their next professional home aligns nicely with the top criteria organizations use when vetting firms with which to do business. We learned from our research on employer branding that being aligned with a growing firm was most important to job candidates in their search. And we know from our other bodies of research, cited above, that expertise is what decision makers are looking for when selecting a firm. Building both your external and your employer brand around specialized expertise signals to decision makers you have what it takes to get the job done, and it signals to future recruits that you really are the firm best able to help them achieve their career goals.

In short, when you’re the firm known for its deep expertise, everyone wins.

About the Author

Elizabeth Harr is a partner with Hinge Marketing and leads the firm’s technology and consulting practice. She is the co-author of two books, the Visible Expert and the Buyer’s Brain.”