By Anne Laurent
If you’re on the right contract at the right time or you subcontract to somebody who is, government work can be plenty good.
My colleague, Bloomberg Government Federal Business Analyst Brian Friel, is building a library of reports that show companies how to tap the more than $80 billion in annual spending by U.S. agencies that flows through a specific kind of federal deal: multiple-award contracts.
Fifty-nine agencies used 1,182 of these contracts, nicknamed “MACs,” to spend $83.2 billion in 2011. Now, Brian has found $8 billion in opportunities that will open by Sept. 30, 2013 on the government’s biggest MAC.
SeaPort-Enhanced is the MAC that the Navy and Marine Corps use to buy professional services — work such as ship design, shipboard engineering, computer systems development, . The Navy has used SeaPort-e, as it’s known, to buy $50 billion in such services since the contract began in 2004.
Agencies use MACs like SeaPort-e to ensure competition continues over time, keeping contractors on their toes and their prices low. Agencies running MACs first require companies to bid just to participate. Once selected, the companies compete for orders from the agency running the MAC and often by other agencies, too. Companies that don’t win slots on the MAC are locked out of work offered through it, usually for at least five years.
SeaPort-e will have $8 billion in expiring orders during the coming months: $1.7 billion in May, $1.7 billion in September and $4.6 billion by Sept. 30, 2013. SAIC Inc., a government services company, has the most expiring orders, $856 million. CACI International Inc., another government services provider, is next with $802 million. Engineering contractor, BAE has $577 million.
Brian found that the more than 2,800 prime contractors on SeaPort-e — those that directly receive the work when they win an order — pass tasks and money on to more than 10,000 subcontractors. So competition over the next year will be fierce, but previous orders have averaged $17.5 million each. That’s plenty good enough for government work.
Anne Laurent is Bloomberg Government’s team leader for defense and federal business intelligence analysts. She has 26 years’ experience covering federal government management as a writer and editor, specializing in analyzing federal acquisition. Laurent is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and has served as director of the CGI Initiative for Collaborative Government at CGI Federal, and as executive editor of Government Executive magazine. She holds a master’s from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.
Brian Friel is a federal business intelligence analyst with Bloomberg Government. He launched GovernmentExecutive.com in 1996 and turned the magazine’s website into a daily news operation with 100,000 subscribers. Friel’s 15 years of executive branch and congressional coverage include reporting for Government Executive, PlanetGov.com, National Journal and Congressional Quarterly.