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Government Consulting

Government consulting facilitates the sale of numerous types of products from cars to computers.

Government consulting often requires extensive travel. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Government consulting often requires extensive travel.

Government Consulting

A multitude of government consulting agencies around the U.S. are given the opportunity to sell billions of dollars each year in federal, state and local government services and products. Also known as government contracting, government consulting is when the government procures funds to an assigned, contracted business in order to perform specifically stated tasks on their behalf. It is typically up to a business to scope out these opportunities and then apply or compete for the chance to be awarded the bid. Once awarded a government consulting opportunity, a contract between the government and the business will state the scope of work, the amount of funding and length of time for which the work is to be performed. A government contract manager is assigned to oversee the tasks during the contract period.

Obtaining Government Consulting Work

Government consulting agencies, especially those looking to obtain federal contracts, are advised by Business.gov, the official business link to the U.S. government, to register their company with both Dun & Bradstreet and the government's Central Contractor Registration (CCR). Registering through these two mediums allows a business to be recognized as a prospective vendor in order to apply for a federal government contract. Another helpful tactic is for a business to obtain a past performance evaluation which provides a statistically-based, independent auditors rating from previous customer or client satisfaction. By obtaining a past performance evaluation from Open Ratings, Inc. also a Dun & Bradstreet company, a business puts themselves in a position to be on the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) contract schedule. A GSA schedule lists the prices the federal government has agreed to pay for a vendor's commercial products and services and is where businesses can search for available contracts. The GSA advertises both locally and nationally. Each state also has their own procurement agencies for listing of available contract bidding opportunities.

Once registered, a business can apply or bid on solicitations for eligible contracts that suit the services they provide. Some contracts are procured only for specific types of businesses such as a small, minority-owned, disadvantaged, women-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled, a Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) zone or any combination of- owned business. In these cases, the GSA and the Small Business Administration advocate on the behalf of their best interests. The federal government has expanded the opportunity for these types of businesses in recent years. A government will award a contract to the business most qualified to perform the specific tasks for the best bidding price.

Types of Consulting

The GSA has 62 categories of commercial products and services for which vendors may apply. These categories cover everything from industrial products, vehicles, computers and office products, to most categories of professional services.

Not only do the types of work vary, so do the types of contracts. There are three basic types of contracts: firm-fixed price, fixed price and cost plus, and each have their own variations:

  • Firm-Fixed Price: provides a set price for contract work not subject to adjustment or added incentives or fees
  • Firm-Fixed Price: level-of-effort term; links a specific level of effort by the consultant over a stated period of time for a set price payment
  • Firm-Fixed Materials Reimbursement: offers a set price payment with available reimbursement for the cost of materials used
  • Fixed Price with Economic Price Adjustment: provides a set price with the option to adjust upward or downward based on the economy
  • Fixed Price Incentive: offers a set price with an option for profit based on incentives
  • Fixed Price Redetermination: provides a firm-fixed price for a set period with a chance for a re-evaluation adjustment upward or downward
  • Cost Reimbursement: allows for incurred costs
  • Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee: fixes the profit price, but not the contract price, allowing for reimbursable allocated funds

 

Consulting's Role in Government

Government consultants serve an important role in providing government services at all levels. They make it possible for a government's specific and specialized needs to be met by proven, experienced professionals of their choice without having to hire and train such professionals themselves. The government gets to choose from competing businesses, all vying to gain their contract. Doing business with the government, however, is much different that doing business with another business. Counselors to Americas Small Business, SCORE state the fundamental differences to be a much slower sales cycle, more policies and regulations to follow and stiff competition from possibly larger and more experienced companies.

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