Small business contractors to feel burden of government shutdown

Thursday - 10/3/2013, 10:21am EDT

Roger Waldron on In Depth.

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Anthony Robbins on the Federal Drive.

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The new fiscal year is off to a slow start with the government in shutdown mode. But even though agencies are shutdown, contractors still need to move ahead in prioritizing business decisions, said Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

"If their funds are delayed because of the shutdown and their contracts are funded on annual appropriations, they're going to have to think strategically and make business decisions," Waldron said on In Depth with Francis Rose. He said in determining strategy, contractors need to assess cash flow and think about critical subcontractors as well as paying their employees.

Roger Waldron, president, Coalition for Government Procurement

Waldron said the shutdown especially will hurt small businesses. "They don't have the cash reserves. Their margins are much slimmer. If the economy sneezes or procurement shuts down, small businesses are much more affected from a fiscal perspective."

Anthony Robbins is the vice president of federal sales at Brocade, a contractor providing data center and network services. He said he is uncertain how the shutdown will affect his company, but he does not think the shutdown will threaten network security.

"Applications are robust with respect to how they deal with security, especially cybersecurity," Robbins said on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp. "The government has done a good job modernizing data centers. So, I don't believe there will be any issue as the government manages through this shutdown, as it relates to the security of the network and the data and applications."

Anthony Robbins, vice president of federal sales, Brocade

Robbins emphasized the importance of making sure cybersecurity and technology are priorities for the federal government once it emerges from shutdown.

"As a community of vendors...we're just focused on, 'how can we had value to the mission of the business of government?'" Robbins said. "Technology will still play a role in enabling the government of tomorrow."

He offered some resolutions the government should consider for the fiscal new year.

"One is around data center consolidation," Robbins said. "The track that the federal government is on is nowhere near commercial best practices relative to data center consolidation. So I think that still is an opportunity to address a bunch of operational costs and modernization."

Any changes the government will make, however, will be on hold until it is no longer shutdown. Waldron said the delays will cause backups in the acquisition process.

"If it's a complex, best value procurement, and everybody is frozen in place, it takes a while to ramp back up," Waldron said. "And time is money for the contractors who have to maintain their competitive teams. And it's additional time on the government side to get back up to speed to do the evaluations."

Robbins and Waldron both said they are hopeful the shutdown will end soon, for the benefit of federal employees and contractors.

"The longer than the shutdown goes on, the greater the pain folks across the procurement community will be feeling," Waldron said. "Hopefully this thing can get resolved quickly, and we can get back to the business of performing contracts, executing contracts and support government missions."

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