Why you can’t understand federal contracting without understanding legislation

January 7, 2016 Stacy O’Mara

As one of Bloomberg Government’s legislative analysts, I’m part of a team that analyzes every bill scheduled for House consideration, as well as major pieces of legislation taken up by the Senate.

We’re part of a larger team that focuses on government affairs professionals — the companies, associations and lobbyists trying to influence government action and the Hill staff and federal agencies who make it happen. Our day-to-day activities center mostly around these clients and the type of work they do.

Our work also helps Bloomberg Government’s other client base — the community of government contractors trying to find and win business with the federal government. Those clients are focused primarily on business development, capture and proposal activities — securing their current work and pounding the pavement to land future work.

Even though we’ve organized our businesses to serve those different customer segments — and recognize where their needs are different — we still work together and leverage our combined expertise to benefit them both. We tap into our business acumen and bridge the gap between the two sides of our enterprise — through webinars, live events, meetings with clients and written content.

We know all too well that these businesses — small, medium or large — are dependent on the federal budget and the appropriations bills that dictate how much money will be available for each department and agency. After all, that’s the source of their funding and their livelihood.

As legislative analysts, we’re steeped in the appropriations process. From introduction through enactment, we study and analyze funding allocations and policy implications in the 12 spending bills — and the giant omnibuses such as the one considered in December. We get intimate with the agencies and their respective programs, especially year after year, as we cover the same bills, identifying trends and cataloguing changes. We also find new pots of gold, i.e. new opportunities.

This is where that bridge–combining our federal contracting and legislative analysis–matters most:

Earlier this year, I worked with government contracting analyst, Brian Friel, on a project where we poured over and identified 95 new programs in the 12 spending bills. We found more than $1.3 billion in potential opportunities for federal contractors. We developed a spreadsheet for all the opportunities, including funding totals, descriptions, affected industries, agencies and bill sections.

Among the possible boons to contractors:

A workforce staffing model for the U.S. Secret Service, which has been embroiled in controversies over recent years.

Potential engineering and construction opportunities to prepare for the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

And this fun one — construction of a new canine training facility for the Homeland Security Department.

Although we may serve two different client bases, we recognize the synergies between them, and collaborate to provide the richest, most in-depth analyses that we can for all our clients.

Defense 2016: A year of big decisions