Purchasers: Know your customers’ needs as the end of federal fiscal year approaches
Another expert who sees increased federal buying activity on the horizon is Diane Denholm, a vice president at Atlanta-based consultants, North Highland. Purchasing, contracting and budgeting teams in federal agencies, says Denholm, “need to step back and ask themselves, ‘What did we do last year that we should do differently this year?’ as they approach this really crazy-busy season that they are about to experience. And, especially with the continuing budget resolutions coming from Congress, I think it’s even going to be busier in 2011 compared to past years.”
FY 2011 is unique, Denholm says. “I think that contracting spend, especially in federal agencies, is really pent-up, and so I think everyone is expecting, on the vendor side, a big uptick in the amount of purchases and acquisitions over the next couple of months.” Denholm already has started seeing an uptick each day in contract postings on FedBizOpps and the eBuy system for the General Services Administration’s Multiple Award Schedule and technology contracts.
“The key thing that public purchasers need to do at the end of the fiscal year is to reach out to their customers and end-users and make sure that purchasing is aware of all their needs and the priorities of those needs,” Denholm says. “What I’ve found over the years is that the purchasing people can get very heads down at this point of the fiscal year.”
As the curtain comes down on FY 2011, Denholm urges public purchasers to evaluate their business processes to maximize efficiencies. “Make sure that all the responsible parties are in place when they are needed, including evaluation teams, if that’s appropriate for that purchase.” Key players, Denholm says, include pricing analysts and signing authorities from both budget and contracting operations.
Lastly, Denholm advocates that public buyers use the collective wisdom of their teams as a tool to eliminate surprises and emergencies that may crop up as the end of the fiscal year approaches.
At North Highland’s Washington office, Denholm specializes in public sector programs and initiatives in the federal space. She has more than 24 years of experience providing cost and performance management solutions to government and other clients. She spent 10 years working at a federal agency as a contracting officer and technical representative.