Vacation Planning for Government Contractors – Rule 1


Rule #1

Do Not Plan Vacation During the Final Fiscal Year Quarter: July 1 through September 30.

Federal government contractors are used to the ebb and flow of the federal fiscal year which starts on October 1 and ends September 30. Generally, the new fiscal year starting in October translates to limited contract activity in October and November, a brief ramp up in early December, and then in “normal” years, after the December holidays, a steady climb in contracts until the last three months (July-September) when use-it-or-lose-it spending requirements cause a contracting spike.

This year will be even more dramatic because Congress has failed to approve the budget in a timely manner. While the term “continuing resolution” may cause a yawn of boredom from the general public, federal government contractors take the issue very seriously because it directly impacts their bottom line.

No New Spending Initiatives
When Congress operates under a continuing resolution (CR) the federal agencies have authority to only spend money to operate in a maintenance mode-under which no new initiatives can be contracted. This fiscal year, approximately 25% of the federal budget has been spent through the first six months, when normally at least 40% would have been spent. The difference amounts to over $110 billion in contracts that are on hold. When these contracts are on hold, companies start to layoffs because they cannot afford to keep highly paid staff “on the bench” waiting for contracts to be signed and started.

Timing is Everything
While the CR initially causes a reduction in jobs because of the delay, when the budget is finally approved, the resulting flood of contract opportunities causes the contracting community to go into high gear. As a result, work weeks are run on a 24/7 schedule to handle the avalanche of bidding opportunities advertised in FedBizOpps and other federal contract listing sites.

Sand in Your Laptop
Responding to a multi-million dollar Request for Proposal (RFP) can take upwards of 200 hours, with no guarantee of success. When a company chooses to bid on multiple RFPs simultaneously, every available person is called in to help; required to put in many late nights and weekends in order to make the bid deadline. Experienced firms anticipate this and do not allow vacations in the summer “high-season” because rarely can they get quality work from staff who are trying to balance vacations and winning-quality RFP responses.


Source by Gloria Berthold Larkin

Agnes Brown

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