Simplified Acquisitions: A Federal Procurement Opportunity for Solution Providers

While the United States government is faced with a potential shut down this week, when a new budget in eventually passed, small businesses can profit from knowing how to navigate their way through the red tape. That task sounds daunting, but a basic understanding of the shortcuts will allow VARs and MSPs to cultivate business from a number of agencies in the federal government. Our Small Business Owners Community members were given an educational primer on how to accomplish that in their CompTIA ...
While the United States government is faced with a potential shut down this week, when a new budget in eventually passed, small businesses can profit from knowing how to navigate their way through the red tape. That task sounds daunting, but a basic understanding of the shortcuts will allow VARs and MSPs to cultivate business from a number of agencies in the federal government. Our Small Business Owners Community members were given an educational primer on how to accomplish that in their CompTIA AMM meeting, receiving a number of detailed best practices and tips to making that happen.

According to Guy Timberlake, cofounder and chief visionary for the American Small Business Coalition, simplified acquisitions streamline the purchase process for the government, enabling small business organizations to get piece of the technology revenue. Timberlake provides a continuing information series for organizations and individuals seeking knowledge about doing business with government, and encourages VARs and MSPs to find opportunities that benefit their companies.

“Simplified acquisitions” is a way to streamline the purchase process for small businesses, and solution providers can take advantage of the program to initiate a relationship with government entities. It basically allows VARs and federal agencies to get to know each other, with small and repeatable purchases that could lead to longer (and closer) affiliations.

“Simplified acquisition procedures favor small businesses, and more federal government dollars were spent on these types of purchases than any other in 2010,” adds Timberlake. The process originates with Part 13 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the acquisition of supplies and services. The rules differ between agencies, so solution providers need to review the specifics on how IT services are dealt with for any group they wish to work with.

What are the benefits of simplified acquisition? As mentioned before, it is a great way for the government to develop relationships, with reduced time frames and less cumbersome processes for purchases less than $150,000 (starts at $3,000). Simplified acquisition procedures also lower the risk for both parties, giving VARs an opportunity to prove themselves without a long, arduous vendor selection process. Most of these transactions are RFQs (request for quotes) versus RFPs (request for proposals), requiring minutes or hours to prepare compared to weeks required for traditional government purchases. That is a tremendous time savings for solution providers.

Another benefit to VARs and MSPs is the fast payment process using the SmartPay2 card, although IT firms must be open to accepting credit cards to qualify. The trade-off between a shorter accounts receivable period and fees for credit charges could be a wash – effectively a charge for the reduced financial risk.   Either way, simplified acquisition provides an opening for VARs and MSPs to “get their feet wet” in the federal government market. If you’re interested in supporting a local office or getting a piece of the larger procurement opportunity, it would be well worth your time to investigate this program.

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