It’s that time of year when we cross fiscal years without funding appropriated by Congress. We have been here many times before. Continuing resolutions have become somewhat familiar as part of the negotiations between Congress and the President. Remember, it wasn’t long ago that there was an open discussion about “year-long” continuing resolutions due to disagreements about the top-line spending number across government.
Congress is in the final stage of approving a continuing resolution that will fund the government into December 2020, carrying us through the election date when, in theory, some of the smoke will have cleared, and negotiating space may look different. Depending on the election outcomes, it may continue the resolution into the calendar year 2021. Again, we have seen this happen before. It is Congress\’s normal behavior to punt big decisions until the outcomes can be agreed in principle and then voted.
While we may have all seen this appropriations action before, it might be useful to refresh yourself what the continuing resolution can mean for business.
- New programs may not begin unless specifically approved as an “anomaly” in the continuing resolution bill language.
- Funds may continue to be obligated in the new fiscal year at specific levels somewhat below the appropriated 2020 level. Often, the level is set to 80%.
- Your PEO and PM have likely been preparing for this eventuality and maybe changing their plan(s) for moving forward on your project.
- The funding you anticipated in the fall may have been frozen or shifted in the short term.
Continuing Resolutions – What to do?
What can you do?
- You have to know that your PM understands your issues. It may be that your prime does not let you talk to your PM. If that’s the case, make some noise. To use a phrase used during the start of PPP, speak with your outside voice! Don’t suffer in silence.
- You may not have direct access to your government PM for several reasons:
- If your POC at the prime is a contracting official, that’s not the right person – elevate the discussion to a line-level VP or prime PM.
- Offer solutions to how you can adapt to a funding issue with a different timeline or payment structure. You don’t want to complain that you’re drowning; show that you have ideas on how to keep things afloat for the good of everyone.
- See if this delay presents a new negotiating opportunity. After all, your original agreement was based on a given set of conditions, and there may be a delay in funding that gives different negotiating spaces.
What should you not do?
- Do not operate “at risk.” You want your customer to love you, but don’t assume the risk alone. You are entitled to compensation when you are providing services to the government or the intermediate prime. Operating at risk is not in your long-term best interest.
If you are concerned about the uncertainty a continuing resolution can present, you are not alone. If you’d like to discuss options in your specific situation, let’s talk about your unique opportunities.
I’ll be addressing the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Washington, DC Board of Directors October 2nd to talk about Congress and Suppliers.
Schedule change — I’ll be speaking at AUVSI’s Xponential, October 6th at 9:45 am Eastern to talk about the 3-Ring Circus.
Need help engaging with the federal government for policy or access to funding for your product? If you need help with this, schedule a call with Gene.
To get a copy of my book, Pitching the Big Top: How to Master the 3-Ring Circus of Federal Sales or information on federal sales, visit Capitol Integration.