Year end dollars begin to dwindle

Tuesday - 8/10/2010, 9:38am EDT

Stephanie Ambrose, Vice President, Serco

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

With well over $100 billion dollars estimated to be waiting to be spent before the upcoming end-of-the-fiscal-year, there's a lot at stake for contractors as the government prepares a last minute acquisition-spree.

"That's a lot of money and not a lot of time" said Stephanie Ambrose, Vice President at Serco. Amborse told Federal News Radio the last minute rush isn't just about money. In addition to the usual year end spending, there are a lot of RFPs being released between now and November, said Ambrose, "which is putting a much heavier burden on contractor staff trying to respond to as many opportunities as possible."

From her viewpoint inside the process, Ambrose sees both government and contractor staffs "are really stressed out at this point, and it becomes a little more difficult to try to keep those lines of communication open. It's really critical that we're able to communicate with each other as we're seeing this huge influx."

The reaction to the stress, she said, is the biggest mistake contractors make: they burrow in so they can focus on the work and that shuts down communication.

Government acquisition staffs are "really overburdened" at this point, said Ambrose, and for good reason. While contractors "typically expect to see a lot of product... IT hardware, office supplies, those types of orders which are fairly quick to get out, but the reality is there are a lot of services requirements that do take additional time that do need to be awarded by the end of the year."

In order to prepare for the end of the year, at Serco operations teams have been asked to pre-register for any task order request that they're expecting through the end of the year. Ambrose said that makes prioritizing tracking and proposal support easier.

Ambrose said a tracking tool used by Serco has allowed real-time tracking which "has saved us precious time in what's already a condensed response period and it really allows us more time to actually focus on proposal preparation."

For more on the end of fiscal year crunch from the federal perspective, see tips from NASA SEWP manager, Joanne Woytek, in How to survive the September buying binge on the Federal Drive.