Contracting work at the federal level is a multi-billion dollar industry. Whether starting from scratch or dipping into a deeper market, subcontractors aiming for federal contracts need to understand what they are getting into.
There are a lot of details about working with prime contractors and government contracting. To pick up the big-money contracts, you need more than a basic understanding of subcontracting and work ethic.
We at Fedmine work to help craft a better system for federal subcontractors to get a real footing. Let’s dive in.
How to Work with Top Federal Contractors
There is a big difference for subcontractors when moving from private sector work to government contracting. There is often a new subset of rules, restrictions, and even culture that can change how you do your job.
Here are 5 items to keep in mind before you dive into federal contracts.
1. The Strict Rules of Time
Unlike private sector work, government contracts have intense scheduling to maintain. You will need to log your hours with meticulous detail and there is often no ‘close enough’. You stay and work for the time allotted, no matter the work you can or will do.
Small details like vacation time, teleworking from home, or even making your own schedules are often not permitted with federal contracts.
2. Understanding Supervisor Structure
Subcontracting invites a lot of differences to usual employment, but government contracting adds even more. Where in a basic job you would have one boss, with subcontracting on federal contracts you might have several supervisors for each stage of the project.
As well, basic federal employees will often outrank you and you may have to report to them with parts of your project as you work.
3. Wide Variety of Potential Contracts
The biggest upside to all of this, besides the lucrative money, is also the massive variety of different contracts across the board. The federal government is a big entity and requires professionals on hundreds of levels.
Even with a specialized set of skills, you can often have dozens of different contracts you can apply for.
4. Instability and Government Shutdown
Government contracting is a fickle service. On one hand, the federal government puts out a lot of contracts like clockwork. The problem, of course, is that specific contracts can be gone at any time and government shutdowns send the whole train off the track.
When working with government contracts, have plans within plans. Backup resources and side contracts can keep you alive during the uncertainty.
5. Adapting to a Wider Government Culture
A government building can often feel like a new country when you compare it to a private-sector office. The differences are even more shocking with military personnel.
If you aren’t familiar with military protocol, you need to learn now. There is almost no room for casualness, between the many levels of clearance, the unspoken protocol with rank, and the exact timing on any project.
Your best bet is to think with the right attitude. When in doubt, overextend formal courtesies and play it safe when at all possible.
Helping Subcontractors Navigate the Contractor Landscape
Now that the basics around working with federal contracts are a bit clearer, you can move forward with a bit more confidence. The life of subcontractors has a lot of risk management involved. Your work quality has high scrutiny to it and winning the next job is far from certain.
Incorporating a business intelligence platform like Fedmine into your daily routine can be a massive boost to your ability to stay on top of the industry. For more information, contact us today!