Risks to Mitigate When Bidding for Federal Contracts
By Jake Morin, Construction Executive
The Trump Administration is pushing for $1.5 trillion in domestic infrastructure spending over the next 10 years. The proposal calls for just $200 billion of that sum to come directly from the federal government, but the hope is that the remaining $1.3 trillion will be bridged by state, local and private partners. If all goes according to plan, there will be a great deal of business available for contractors at the federal level in the coming decade. This is a very exciting time within the federal contractor space.
Of course, projects on this scale do not come without complications and there are unique risks involved that every contractor must be wary of when bidding for a job. With that in mind, here are some of the most crucial issues to address before getting underway:
1. MANAGE CYBER RISK
Keeping a company’s cyber data secure is of the utmost importance for any project, but it is doubly important when working with the U.S. government. The General Services Administration (GSA) is working to finalize its cybersecurity requirements, regulations that will result in the continuance of stringent standards from the federal government, plus some new rules added to the mix. Once adopted, contractors will be required to adhere to the regulations.
It’s essential for contractors to take proper precautionary measures to keep sensitive data from getting into the wrong hands, particularly since data breaches have become an increasing problem in today’s marketplace. In March, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that companies reported 1,583 data breaches to his office last year, resulting in the exposure of roughly 9.2 million New Yorkers – more than four times the number reported in 2016.
Even large companies with professionals dedicated to cybersecurity have fallen victim to hacks. Late last year, PayPal suffered a data breach that affected up to 1.6 million customers. And, recently, Facebook came under fire after it was discovered that a voter-profiling company harvested private information from more than 50 million users without their consent.
In addition to protecting the most sensitive information, contractors should also invest in data compromise coverage from a trustworthy insurance company. In the event of a data breach, data compromise coverage typically helps to quickly mitigate exposure by notifying those affected by the hack and offering services to them, including identity restoration case management and credit monitoring. A comprehensive policy will also offer public relations help, as well as protection against lost wages.
2. PREPARE FOR INCREASED SCRUTINY
The federal government operates under the watchful eye of its voters and faces questions from the media. As a result, the government will want complete details on the proposed project with the confidence to know that it will be cost-effective and completed within a reasonable time frame. A bid must clearly detail how every dollar will be allocated and every step to be taken from the first shovel of dirt to cutting the ribbon. Failing that, the government will be circumspect of a potential public relations hazard, which would immediately spike the bid.
Estimates must account for the red tape that often comes with bidding for government contracts. The expected cost of raw materials and labor could be at one price point in the spring, but those expenses could increase by the time the contract is actually awarded. The length of the process may also affect the proposed timeline. The one-year timetable outlined while vying for the project may still be expected even if it takes six months for the job to actually be awarded.
Ultimately, contractors must walk the tightrope between making a strong bid and overpromising. It’s also imperative for companies to have quality insurance to protect against the variables that can change over time. In addition to serving as a backstop against the unknown, an insurance company can help package coverage information in a way that will help smooth the laborious path to a secured contract.
3. PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO SAFETY MEASURES
Safety measures, as always, are of the utmost importance. Accidents may happen on the jobsite, even under the best of circumstances, but the federal government will want to know that the team is prepared for a worst-case scenario. Within a proposal, a contractor must make it clear that there are measures in place that will facilitate a timely and appropriate response.
A contractor must demonstrate to the government that there are clearly defined written protocols and safety handbooks on hand for the team to reference. The contractor must also show that the team has safety training certification, licenses to operate important machinery and complete insurance coverage.
The $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal is the most ambitious development plan in U.S. history. If all goes well, that will mean a great deal of opportunities for contractors and a boon to contractors’ bottom line. The federal bidding process may seem intimidating, but can be manageable by adhering to the aforementioned tips and joining forces with a capable insurance partner who has experience issuing policies for federal contractors.