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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Vital Tips for Project Management in Small Business Federal Government Contracting




Good small business project management focuses the resources on a plan for contract execution, the schedule, budget and customer requirements baseline and the status of a given effort among other concurrent projects to give visibility into problem solving and management trade offs.

If you are a small enterprise selling off-the-shelf commercial items under FAR Part 12 or marketing commercial products on a GSA schedule, you may be initially challenged by the government contracting venue. With persistence you will establish selling relationships through agencies and prime contractors. Your project management challenge is minimal.

A service contractor faces a far greater challenge in understanding the nature of government contact project management and succeeding at it
.
PLANNING IS KEY

Strategic thinking must be applied to structuring a government service contract project management capability in your company. It must involve long term planning and designing a business system as well as establishing rates and factors to bid new work and control it while interfacing with the customer.

A Framework For Small Business Federal Government Contracting Business Systrems

When one plans in detail to define the product or the service one reduces performance risk

The project management challenge is not to launch significant and costly resources before the specification for the product is sufficiently defined, obviating the need for costly revisions or abandonment, yet knowing when the product definition and plan are suitable for release.
Good project management starts early.

Without a well written Statement of Work (SOW) and associated supplies  and services specifications there is unacceptable risk in the future  contract and is it exceptionally high risk to bid or contract the job. 
Both the contractor and the customer must come to an understanding regarding the scope of effort to be performed. That understanding is conveyed in the Statement of Work (SOW) and confirmed in the specifications referenced therein.  A good SOW should have the following principal attributes:

* Clear identification of the products, services, skills, materials and performance factors required to complete the contract

* A description of the conditions under which the contractor will be required to perform and any related environmental or location factors

* Specific references to product specifications that govern an acceptable product or services performance outcome and delivery  acceptance

* A schedule for the contract that identifies discrete delivery dates for products and specific start and end dates for supporting labor.

* A precise description of customer furnished material or facilities required and when it will be made available to the contractor.

If your customer does not provide the above, offer the document during the comments period, during your proposal or during negotiations that represents a version to which your company will commit. 

Do not let the fact the program is competitive sway you from the facts. Signing off on a poorly written SOW results in a difficult contract to manage, a high probability for disputes during the  contracting period and a poor past performance record you will have to  deal with in the future on other jobs.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT RULES OF THUMB

A secondary and related challenge is managing the baseline for the product or service to avoid scope creep, superfluous bells and whistles and other diversions that risk the basic completion objectives. 

Set a baseline for what can and cannot be achieved for the resources and time that have been committed to the job and present to the client.  Use it as a bench mark for discussion to establish a plan going forward. Then control it using sound baseline management. 

Stay away from "Scope Creep" that can kill a contract, a customer relationship and a past performance record, all of which are important to your business. Stay in front of "Scope Creep" by communicating positively with the customer to control the baseline, keeping cost, schedule and technical performance integrated and synchronous.

Use the below rules of Thumb to control "Scope Creep":

KNOW - The contract value and its ceiling amount

KNOW - The incurred cost to date and commitments

KNOW - The scope of work and whether or not your current efforts are supporting it or some other objectives

KNOW - The estimated cost at completion based on where you are at today

KNOW - Your customer and who among the customer population is prone to direct out of scope effort.

 KNOW - WHEN TO SAY "NO" to "Scope Creep" and say it officially in   writing to the contracting officer specified in your contract.

For baseline management and earned value techniques in achieving the above, please see the articles linked below:

Baseline Management In Small Business Contracting

Earned Value Management Systems

CAREFULLY SELECT YOUR PROJECT MANAGER(S) OR PERFORM THE ROLE YOURSELF

The following are the more esoteric project manager attributes necessary in the government contracting industry:

DEVELOPING the ability to cross organizational lines and make disparate groups or functional organizations work together with only a power of persuasion and a contract.

EVOLVING the art of directing resources without having them as direct reports while keeping home departments and functional bosses happy at the same time.

MANAGING to convince the executives in the company that specific project (s) are the most important in the firm.

LIVING with the prospect that if the project is late, fails or otherwise disappoints the powers that be, replacing the project manager will be the designated corrective action.


GROWING to crave the satisfaction that comes from succeeding at the above challenges and you would not have any other job because no other pursuit makes your day go as fast, grows you skills as sharp and totally occupies your intellect.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

SMALL BUSINESS GOVERNMENT CONTRACT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

Image: Slideshare D. Miller


For small businesses involved in development and manufacturing efforts under government contracts, or those who are pursing research and development involving large scale systems, the government property topic often arises.

In general, government contractors are required to provide all that is necessary to fulfill the scope of work on a government contract. However, under time and materials and cost plus contracts where the acquiring agency has made substantial investment in manufacturing aids, special test equipment or apparatus, title to such items will fall to the government.

Title falls to the contractor on firm, fixed price contracts where the cost is base lined at contract award and is assumed to include all that is required to produce the end item when it was bid.

Government property must be stored separately from contractor property when not in use, identified in the facility inventory system as government owned and have government property tags.

Rent – Free Use of government property accountable under one contract must be requested on a non-interference basis from the owning contracting officer before use on another contact and the using contract must reference the approval.

The government may elect to charge rent for use of government property under commercial or foreign contracts. The process for calculating and paying rent is specified in FAR 52.245-9.

The principal FAR Clauses for government Property are 52.245-1 and 52.245-2. If you are undertaking a contract involving government property please read these FAR Clauses. Within these clauses are requirements for inventory, disposal and disposition of government property.

FAR - Government Property Clauses

Government property may be furnished by the acquiring agency with a contract award and may be placed in the care of the contractor. In those cases accountability for the items, together with associated maintenance may be assigned to the contract and reassignment of the property must occur before the contract can be closed out at completion.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Security Clearances Federal Government Contracting

Image Source MGN
While exploring the federal government marketplace the small business will encounter programs and potential contracts that involve security clearances. This is common in the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security and many other agencies.


"FedTeDs" (Federal Technical Data Solutions) is a password-protected, web-based tool designed to safeguard the distribution of sensitive, unclassified, acquisition-related information for all federal agencies. FedTeDS allows Contracting Officers (COs) to use the internet to disseminate sensitive information in a secure way and eliminate the need to create and distribute CDs or paper documents. On some programs access to bid documentation may require a company and/or individual registration to acquire access.


Small business must grow into federal government classified programs. Individual and company clearance designations exist at various levels, depending on the relative risk to national security if unauthorized disclosure occurs. Clearances for key management are necessary to achieve a company clearance and all clearances are expensive. Either your company or a sponsor in the form of a prime contractor or government agency must pay for the process; the higher the security clearance the more costly the clearance. For facility clearances involving housing classified material, a building itself may require modifications for classified storage, communication devices or meeting accommodations (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or SCIF).


Becoming involved in the classified contract venue requires that you budget the time, the expense and the processes necessary and that you expense them in your forecasted overhead rate budgets so the costs can be appropriately priced and recovered via government contract billing. You must also carefully research government regulations such as the "National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual" (NISPOM) which governs the classified environment across all federal agencies:


The US Government security clearance process is based on two major principles:


1. A "Need to Know"


2. A requirement to perform a job on a specific government contract containing classified work.


Initial clearances are obtained by developing a business relationship with an agency or a prime contractor performing classified work and then getting assigned to a contract effort which is classified. Thereafter, clearances at certain lower levels can be carried by your employees or your company to other contracts at the same level of clearance requirement or even to a different agency within certain time constraints. At higher levels of clearances every employee is "Read On" and "Read Off" each and every contract on a singular basis after extensive background checks and in certain instances a polygraph. The process can involve lifetime nondisclosure commitments by an individual.


So you need a sponsor, a prime contractor company or an agency that will process your clearance based on your need to know classified information to participate in classified government contracts. Naturally they must be convinced via your marketing campaign that you can add value to the program involved. If it seems like a "Chicken and Egg" process - it is; but every business working in the venue has to go through the gates discussed in this article and maintain a vigilant program of compliance with associated regulations.

NOTE:  Comments at this post have been maintained from previous discussions on this topic at "Small to feds" in the interest of demonstrating the often complex and confusing nature of the clearances process. 

As one anonymous commentor (not published due to anonymity)  pointed out, some of the published comments are wrong and ill advised.  It pays to read the latest issue of the NISPOM, linked above. 

The anonymous commentor also maintained that clearances no longer cost the company.  I do not agree. The indirect costs of maintaining training programs to keep company and individual clearances is an ongoing tangible cost that must be planned for. The government considers  that cost allowable through the overhead on contracts, much the same way they are now considering a similar allowability for cyber-security certification.  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

PRICING SMALL BUSINESS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE CONTRACTS

Integrate Long-term Company Strategy
 With Short Term Proposal Pricing Objectives 
For Success





INTRODUCTION
Small businesses entering or growing into federal contacting often struggle with developing a pricing approach. They must design a pricing structure to pass an audit and win competitively. A winning strategy for federal services contracting must involve a view of the horizon as well as the instant bid on the table.
If you are a small enterprise selling off-the-shelf commercial items under FAR Part 12 or marketing commercial products on a GSA schedule, you may be initially challenged by the government contracting venue. With persistence you will establish selling relationships through agencies and prime contractors. Your pricing challenge is minimal. A service contractor faces a far greater challenge in understanding the nature of government contact pricing and winning at it.
Strategic thinking must therefore be applied to structuring a government service contracting cost center in your company. It must involve long term planning and designing a business system as well as establishing rates and factors to bid new work.
LONG TERM COMPANY STRATEGY
Build a Business System With Pricing in Mind:
We have previously discussed the basics of small business government contracting business system design: Job Cost Accounting Basics
The structure or your pricing approach from the cost element level through burdens must use the same template as your job cost accounting and billing. The parallel mapping provides the consistency required to pass audits or get your billings approved on a service contract.
Please read the above article and its related references. Then design your processes recognizing the guidance there and applying it to your company organization, and the way you produce your supplies and services:
Sculpt the DCAA Auditor
As you begin submitting government contracting proposals you will encounter your local DCAA audit office. They learn about your company by auditing your cost proposal rates, job cost processes and systems, billings and contract closeouts.
Keep in mind that you are shaping opinions in these encounters on the part of these government personnel that will influence your future and be passed on in reports to contracting officers. Your unique company business system structure must be carefully explained to them against what they know best; their DCAA Audit manual and FAR Cost Accounting Standards:
Protect Rate Information
Your fully loaded rates will appear on your GSA schedule in the public domain, in subcontracts from prime contractors and in data acquired under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by competitors.
It is generally recognized by all industries participating in federal government contracting that internal overhead and G&A rates and the data that support them are proprietary data. The reason for the proprietary nature of rate data between companies is that in government work firms are teaming with each other exclusively on one project and competing against each other on additional contracts or projects at the same time.
Companies do not disclose the details of their rates to other companies and they do not expect to see another company’s proprietary rate information. So companies view each others rate information on a fully loaded basis, meaning the total of the base cost, any proprietary indirect cost and an agreed upon profit percent.
If a prime contractor requests that subcontractor proprietary rate information be supplied with a proposal the detail should be double wrapped and the package stamped, ‘Government Eyes Only’. The prime will then hand the package off to DCAA without opening it and receive only the fully loaded result of the burdened rate pricing.
For further information on intellectual property protection and protective markings on government contract proposals please see the following article:
Recognize Overhead and General and Administrative Expense Rates Are Critical
Assuming your competition pays a generally similar labor rate to their employees as you do and that fringe costs about the same for everyone, then overhead and general administrative expense are what wins and loses contracts.
Please read the following articles carefully with regard to long range planning and setting your overhead and general  administrative  rates:
Keep in mind that if you are performing work inside a government facility the government will expect to be charged a lower overhead rate than if you were paying the space and occupancy costs and the light bill. This is normally achieved by establishing a separate cost center for “On site” (Internal to government quarters) work with lower overhead expenses applied to project direct labor dollars in that cost center.
Price Set Aside Contracts the Same as Full and Open Competitions
If you are a small business lucky enough to receive a sole source set aside contract under an 8(a) or Hub Zone award, or if you are participating in limited competition under a small business set aside designation, use the same sharp pencil you use on the full and open market. Your goal is to compete for the long haul and inflating estimates on particular jobs due to limited competition has an inflationary effect on your business as a whole.
Your company past performance is being constantly evaluated by the government and prime contractor community. Consistency attains and retains new business. You will eventually grow to the point where set asides and sole sourcing will no longer be available; prepare early.
Know the True Value of Your Proposal
Develop risk thresholds (ceiling and floor) for your bids. The ceiling is the price for which you can bid a job, perform to meet specifications and win. A floor is the lowest possible price for which you can accept a contract and survive.
Do not bid or be negotiated out of these thresholds. “Buying In” does not work and sacrificing the future of your company by “Low Balling” cost proposals and hoping to get well on scope changes later is dangerous.
In government contracting the only worse scenario than losing a contract is winning it, performing poorly (cost, schedule or technical) and getting a black eye on your company past performance record that takes a long time to go away.
Understand a Proposal is the Opening Chapter a Baseline for Your Contract
Your proposal represents an initial offer to a government agency or a prime contractor. Please read the following articles on how this baseline is initially set and controlled through the negotiation process and ultimately through careful contract management.
SHORT TERM PROPOSAL OBJECTIVES
Make Bid/No Bid Decisions Wisely
Conduct your bid/no bid decisions effectively. Please see the bid/no bid analysis process at the beginning of the following article:
Be Conservative in Rough Order of Magnitude Pricing
A common government planning technique in the early phases of marketing is to ask questions and review and approve a concept paper by a company then informally request for “Planning Purposes”, a rough order of magnitude cost estimate (ROM).
If you provide a ROM be very careful. It tends to get cast in concrete in the customer’s mind, even though it is not the final, formal proposal. Make it conservative in cost content and schedule duration, then plan to beat it with your formal proposal.
Make sure you caveat the ROM if you are asked for it with the statement in your cover letter that it is for planning purposes only and is not a commitment on the part of your company. State that you will be happy to make a full formal proposal/commitment upon receipt of a formal RFP from an authorized contracting officer. Keep in mind that contracting officers are the only people who can commit the government:
The government usually goes forward with the concept paper and the ROM for approval of the funding necessary for the job. The “Agency Higher Ups” either give the project personnel the approval to do a set aside or they require a competitive procurement.
You may want to read the following article on Statements of Work:
Know the Difference Between Firm, Fixed Price, Time and Materials and Cost Plus Contracting
During the solicitation and proposal process the contract type is specified.
Firm, Fixed Price (FFP) is the riskiest type of contracting and should be undertaken only when you have a definitive grasp of a precise statement of work with known variables and end products. You should have achieved similar work scope in the past or be delivering follow-on products and services that are mature in nature to undertake a firm, fixed price contract.
FFP is particularly risky in software development contracts or high technology program pressing the state of the art. You will receive no more in the form of funding than your bid price on a firm, fixed price contract.
Time and Materials (T and M) contracting places the risk on the government and is suited to long term service contracts of a development nature. Time and Material may be contracted with fixed labor rates, making the hours and pass through materials and other direct costs the only variables.
Cost Plus (CP) contracting is the least risky of all contract types and you are assured of receiving every dollar of cost incurred under this type of contract.
The lower the risk to the contractor the lower the expected negotiated profit rate you can expect, since the government considers risk the principal factor in profit negotiation.
For further explanation of contract types in more detail, please see the following article:
Develop a Price Profile of the Competition
Use a copy of your own forward pricing long range plan (LRP) to model your strongest competitors. Profile your best intelligence regarding their size, location, contract base and estimated overhead and G&A expenses. Then interpolate, from your knowledge of the market, their labor and fringe costs, as well as other direct costs as you prepare your proposal. Incorporate any unique approaches you estimate your competition may offer that impact cost.
Adjust your competitor cost model to perform “What If Analysis” during your risk assessment and proposal review process. For an example of an LRP cost model please see the Box Net Cube in the left margin of this site: Small Business Federal Government Contracting It is Appendix B to the book, “Small Business Federal Government Contracting” and is available as a free download in Adobe format from the BOX in the right margin of the site.
Understand “Best Value” Source Selection
When the government declares a “Best Value” proposal award process the agency will perform a weighted trade study of cost verses technical and management factors in reviewing proposals. They will announce the weight of each factor in relative terms within the solicitation so contractors can focus on the most important elements.
What best value means quite simply is that if you are the low price bidder you may not win. If a competitor proposes a superior technical and management approach, a higher weighted rating in those factors may offset an otherwise non-competitive bid price, resulting in an award. This is a fact you must keep in mind when preparing your own proposal. In short you must perform your own trade study on your own bid.
Past performance has also become a significant weight factor in proposal evaluations in recent years. To address this challenge, please see the following article:
A balanced proposal, with specific, heavy emphasis on government-designated weight factors and an economical, yet realistic cost/price usually wins. Offsetting weaknesses in any designated government weighted area by proposing excellence in other weighted areas is vital.
Beware of Unallowable Costs
Over the years the federal government has determined that certain costs cannot be allowed in prices, cost reimbursements or settlements under contracts with the US Government. The government is unwilling to pay for these costs as direct charges to federal government contracts or through indirect expense pools applied to federal government contracts.
A company is not prohibited from incurring unallowable costs, but they cannot be recovered either directly or indirectly under federal government contracts. To manage unallowable costs, separate accounts must be established for these type expenses and they must not be priced directly into federal government contracts during the proposal process.
Such costs cannot be made a part of the expense pools which are applied to federal government contracts through an overhead, material handling or G&A cost allocation at accounting period close or during forward pricing rate planning. For more detail on unallowable costs please see the following article:
Integrate Pricing With Technical and Management Approaches
Establish price targets as soon as possible for major tasks, evolve a program plan, or if you are bidding a T&M, IDIQ type program develop a sample work order for a typical representative effort.
As the technical and management proposal move toward completion, use established checkpoints to evaluate the efficiency of your cost estimate, escalation factors, labor, material and other direct costs. Then apply your indirect rates and subject your total proposal to a credibility check with regard to a believable cost estimate considering your solution and its time frame.
Run your competition price model and bring in some outside experts to review the end product proposal “Cold” before it is submitted.
Manage Best and Final Offers (BAFO) Carefullly
Most government solicitations require a format and terms and conditions with submission that permit contract award without further discussion. However, many involve a down-select process, briefings by those selected in the “Competitive Range”, a call for best and final offer (BAFO) or negotiation to achieve a final price.
The best and final offer period is a sensitive time. Most contracting agencies that call for a BAFO will cite weaknesses or concerns in the selected contractor proposals. They wish to hear about solutions to those weaknesses during BAFO briefings and require a re-submitted offer to correct them. The price may be adjusted as well and that is a key consideration. Pay particular attention to the way the BAFO instructions and concerns, specific to your down-selection, are worded. Look for hints that indicate critical opinion about your pricing, and then adjust your costs.
Consider the cost, schedule, technical and past performance implications of the BAFO request letter from the government and revise your proposal by the required submission date. Close the loop on all matters with your suppliers, subcontractors and prime contractors, and then conduct your briefing to the customer when it is scheduled. Present a united front to win. Your price should be your best. You will not be offered a chance to bid another competitively on that program.
On some procurements you may be asked to undertake additional discussions to determine final contract pricing. Please see the negotiation template at the following article for guidance on that process:
SUMMARY
This discussion has conveyed how pricing should be a natural outgrowth of the organization structure, market strategy, competitive analysis, business system design and long range planning.
We have further explained how your long and short term pricing factors should be integrated with the management and technical elements of any given proposal. Take the long and the short view of your business by integrating long-term company strategy with short term proposal objectives

Monday, November 9, 2020

SMALL BUSINESS TEAMING IN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING

Image:  Cosential - Teaming to the Top: CRM is the Secret Weapon for Subconsultants


 INTRODUCTION:

While developing a government marketing plan, teaming with other companies is a productive venue for the small business. This article will convey general guidance pertinent to teaming and explore the types of teaming used successfully by small business federal government contractors.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Synergism is paramount in teaming with any size company, whether in a lead or subcontracting role. There should be technical, management and market segment similarities between you and any company with whom you are considering teaming. Your prospective team member ideally will not be a direct competitor; rather a business in a related field with whom you share a mutual need for each other's contributions in pursuing large-scale projects.

Relationships must be developed with primes and other small businesses that can help you, team with you and keep you in mind as they search for success. That takes time, patience and open-minded, out of the box thinking. It also takes more than a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), a teaming agreement (TA) and a proposal to succeed. It takes dynamic marketing and communication with strong partners and hard, innovative work. Nice buzz words you say - but it is the truth and you have to find what that truth means to you.

Successful teaming for a specific program occurs early. Very few astute teams in government contracting are formed after a solicitation is formally published. Checking the "Interested Parties" block of a solicitation there and attempting to form or join a team is generally too late to effectively achieve a cohesive relationship, agreement and a win strategy by the time the proposal is due.

A size factor need not be a deterrent if you use contingent hire agreements, aspire to take over incumbent work forces in existing government operations or keep yourself open as a partner to a multiple number of primes and synergistic small businesses who are not direct competitors but with whom teaming will permit chasing larger procurements than any one small business could pursue. You can also grow into security clearances, as individuals and as a company with government agency sponsorship through already cleared companies.

In making contacts with larger firms you may have to go through the "Gate Keepers", such as the small business liaison officer, the registration boxes at web sites, a purchasing agent or a contracts person to get to the program people with the real decision making authority. Give the gate keepers their due, since you may end up working with them later.

Nothing makes a prospective small business or a large business teaming partner perk up like a real hot lead on a program. If you can offer a "Carrot on a Stick" such as an opportunity that they cannot access other than through you, it will get their attention. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) should be signed before the discrete information on the job is disclosed. Please see the following article on NDA's and Teaming Agreements as documents and protecting your associated intellectual property:

Protecting Intellectual Property


SUBCONTRACTING TO ANOTHER COMPANY

In teaming as a subcontractor with other companies your goal is to sign a teaming agreement with a prime contractor for a prospective program. You prepare your proposal and submit it to the prime contractor who incorporates it into his submission to the government. Your submission contains flow down terms and conditions from the prime's proposal as well as a technical description of the effort you intend to perform. Your cost proposal to the prime contains fully loaded rates for the labor categories and material as well as the travel you will perform on the subcontract. The government awards the prime contract to your team member. You then undertake negotiations with the prime to convert your teaming agreement to a subcontract. 

The subcontract will replace the teaming agreement between you and your prime and contract performance can then commence.

Be especially careful in negotiating the attachment to a teaming agreement which identifies the scope of work which you will perform. Insure it has sufficient detail in terms of labor categories, % of the program (both hours and dollars) a discrete description of your effort, and any additional assurances you need to feel comfortable with the deal.

Keep on mind that a teaming agreement is an agreement to agree. It is not a contract and rarely enforceable in a court of law. That means you must negotiate your contract upon award and in many cases the prime may pressure you to lower your rates, decrease your share of the program or otherwise depart from the teaming agreement when your subcontract is finalized. Your business acumen will come into play during that transition. For tips please see the following link:

Contract Negotiation

BECOMING A PRIME CONTRACTOR

As a prime contractor you sign a teaming agreement with a subcontractor during the RFP stage of a solicitation. Your subcontractor prepares a proposal and submits it to you. You incorporate it into the prime contract proposal to the government. You negotiate flow down versions of terms and conditions from your federal contract to the subcontractor as well as a technical description of the effort the subcontractor will perform. The subcontractor's cost proposal contains fully loaded rates for the labor categories and material as well as the travel he intends to perform on the subcontract. The government awards the prime contract to you. You undertake negotiations with the subcontractor to convert the teaming agreement to a subcontract. The subcontract will replace the teaming agreement between you and your subcontractor.

Your role as a prime may be the result of your status a small business, a woman-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned business under a program set-aside to one of those designations. It is usually best to subcontract no more than a 40% share of the total business to firms with whom you are teaming to avoid the appearance of a front. The statutory requirement is 51% to the prime in these types of programs but you need to convey strength as a prime in terms of resources to be deemed a winner by the government source selection board.

If the program you are bidding is a negotiable procurement it is preferable to negotiate subcontracts with team members before you negotiate your final contract with the government. Going into negotiations with the government having definitized your subcontracts reduces your risk in terms of unknowns contractually at the supplier level. It also eliminates the subcontractor wanting to know the result of your prime contract negotiations so that he can use it as a frame of reference for his negotiation position with you. The baseline when you go to the table with your subcontractor is your teaming agreement specifying his statement of work and your collective proposal to the government containing the prospective cost and price for his effort as part of the total proposal.

SUMMARY

There are many subsidiary forms of the above basic teaming approaches. You can join multi-company teams under a major prime on IDIQ umbrella contracts of long duration. You can bid a team effort using your GSA Schedule.

Although the Federal Mentor-Protégé Program is a fine vehicle, keep other options open at the same time you pursue a long term teaming partner in that venue.

Joint ventures are difficult for small and start-up companies. They are made up of resources from both companies, yet a JV exists as separate legal entity and is complex to administer. A joint venture agreement is a special form of teaming agreement subject to approval by the government agency with whom the JV is contracting. JV's are usually managed by a JV Board and include administrative costs and billing nuances associated with a "3rd Entity" that many firms find difficult to manage.

If you are in a prime contractor role you have an additional management challenge in being accountable for the performance of your subcontractors and flowing down the terms, conditions and performance requirements under which you are being contracted by the government. Your customer expects effective subcontractor management. 

Proposal preparation imposes a substantial burden on the prime contractor because the prime must integrate, assemble, package and deliver the final submission after receipt of data from the subcontractor(s).

Keep in mind that you may be exclusively teaming with a company on certain procurements and competing against them on others. Protect your intellectual property, only exchange fully loaded rate information and keep the relationship professional at all times.

Your reputation as a team member in the small business federal government contracting community is important. Be selective and high performing in this area. Agencies, past performance data bases and other companies will be observing you, recording your performance and passing the word along to others directly and indirectly.