WashingtonExec 2015 Market Outlook Series
We look forward to a new year and new opportunities for innovation and growth in the government contracting community. This past year, we experienced an increased emphasis on cybersecurity, the government’s procurement process and a perpetual focus on doing more with less.
WashingtonExec reached out to those most knowledgeable and experienced in the federal contracting space. We asked executives in and around the beltway for insight regarding where they see the government contracting community headed in 2015. Topics discussed include M&A activity, cloud computing, privacy issues, data collection, healthcare IT, defense and more.
Stan Soloway, Professional Services Council’s (PSC) president and CEO, sees the federal budget, cybersecurity and the government dealing with its internal conflicts all taking the main stage in 2015.
Stan Soloway: As we look out at 2015, a number of parallel, perhaps even colliding, forces appear to be at work. Clearly, the budget battle will be back as the Obama Administration and Congress deal with slightly changed political dynamics. How far and deep the battle will go — and whether possible compromises will be derailed from either the right or the left — remains an open question.
Not only do we have the continued controversy over immigration, but we are also likely to see a proposed budget from the President that intentionally exceeds the Budget Control Act caps and, shortly thereafter, the return of the debt ceiling and sequestration debates. So, on some levels we will see a return to the uncertainties of past years. However, as we have learned during the last two years, budget confidence, more so than pure budget resources, tends to drive programmatic and thus buying behaviors on the civilian side of the ledger. As such, it seems likely that the budget debate will roil the defense department most, especially given the changed … and highly charged … international security environment.
Even as all of those dynamics play out and set the stage for the 2016 presidential elections, a number of important issues — for both industry and government — will be increasingly in the spotlight. Cybersecurity, which everyone agrees is a top priority, remains caught in a vortex of competing opinions, competing controlling authorities and an ever evolving threat. So questions like supply chain compliance, the protection of unclassified information and more will continue to be the focus of significant discussion and necessary debate. And that debate will help drive how and where the government moves with regard to data, health IT, cloud, data center consolidation, etc. All of those areas remain ripe; but the specific “how” and “where” remain equally ripe for debate.
Finally, 2015 may be the year the government begins to come to grips with its internal conflicts. We have seen and written a lot about the challenges of industry-government collaboration and partnership. But if nothing else, we have seen more in the last two years to highlight the challenges of internal government communications and collaboration — within and between functions and between agencies.
Nowhere is this made clearer than in our soon to be released 2014 acquisition policy survey in which federal acquisition professionals rank innovation as next to last in their list of objectives for any given procurement; yet many operations professionals in government are actively and aggressively seeking innovation. How do we bridge that gap? How do we bridge the gap that also ensue when innovation is being sought by the end customer but not bought by the buyer?
These are core issues that speak to the government’s ability to drive new and improved ways of delivering for the warfighter and the citizen. Given the rise of non-traditional procurement techniques (challenges, contests, etc.) and internal “delivery” mechanisms like GSA’s 18f, it seems clear that there is an abject need for a new and broader conversation.