The federal contracting process is complex and has pain points experienced by contracting officers, proposal managers, recruiters, and others in the industry.
ClearanceJobs was joined by Tony Kwag (CEO, Bidscale) who is an expert on the contracting process, having experienced it both on the industry and RFP creation sides. Specifically, we discuss the slowdown behind federal contracting; what it can be attributed to and how it impacts Americans, along with some solutions. The lack of standardization and automation behind the bureaucracy of government contracting keeps us only relevant, and never innovating past the status quo.
Problem points in the federal contracting process
It’s a big industry with large annual contracting spend numbers that are managed through contracting actions. “Imagine memorizing and staying current with the U.S. tax code and the Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR),” Kwag says. “With very strict requirements and multiple updates a year that don’t even get into the agency and sub-agency level of policy, as a federal contracting officer, you’re in charge of navigating that space without mistake.” Contracting officers then experience much burnout.
Secondly, federal procurement was designed to be standardized, to be fair, to reduce risk and help the government be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. But you see a lot of well-publicized sentiment on the broken nature of federal acquisitions. The process is too complex. It gets bogged down when it was created to be helpful.
Thirdly, it’s really hard to keep up with demand of federal agencies. They do more and more through contracting every year. It’s really easy to grow the scope of your requirements but it’s not as easy to grow the contracting workforce and also to transform the tools in their toolkit. Kwag says, “I mean imagine a really busy restaurant. A successful restaurant trying to work off that one burner from fifty years ago when they first started as an unsuccessful restaurant. Sure, that one burner was viable when they were starting off, but it’s a different story when things have tripled.”
Finally, there’s a high risk nature because one wrong step can undermine the whole process and send you back to stage 0. The JEDI contract is the most visible recent example, which was protested into oblivion, and now there is a major capability gap that’s impacting the government’s ability to digitally transform themselves. This has real world impacts on Americans, because it sets back the U.S.’s ability to harness AI / machine learning and other emerging technologies at the same rates as our near-peer adversaries.
Tune in to this episode of the Security Clearance Careers Podcast to learn more on what challenges these problems present to contractors and the entire Defense Industrial Base (DIB), why should Americans care and what the real-world effects are, some potential solutions, and how automation tools could helps contractors and contracting officers in the proposal / award process.