In previous posts I’ve gone through all of the agencies that have a spike in procurement activity at the end of the fiscal year. I thought it was worthwhile to also highlight those that maintain a more consistent pace of procurement activity.
The following agencies execute no more than about 33% of their procurements in Q4:
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- General Services Administration (GSA)
- Department of Labor (Labor)
- Department of Transportation (DOT)
- Department of Energy (Energy)
- The Agency for International Development (USAID)
Here’s a simple bar chart showing the percentage of solicitations posts by quarter for each of these agencies. Under each Agency name is the average number of solicitations posted annually.
GSA and USAID have the smallest deviation between quarters and, in fact, both show the most activity in Q3 rather than Q4. It should be noted that a large percentage of the procurement activity under GSA relates to updating the offerings under GSA schedules. That is, every couple of months GSA awards schedule contracts to vendors, allowing them to offer services under a GSA schedule. There is no particular reason for this to occur at fiscal year end since there are no award dollars associated with this kind of procurement activity – just the establishment of a contract vehicle.
USAID doesn’t adhere to the traditional federal buying season because this agency is an outlier in may ways. A large percentage of procurements are managed by, or at least heavily reliant on, the procurement shops staffed by the overseas Missions. Those shops are staffed by non-Americans who feel less pressure to make procurement decisions around the U.S. federal governments fiscal budgeting schedule. Many contractors who specialize in USAID have noticed, however, that the agency has a habit of dropping solicitations just before major U.S. holidays. We found some compelling evidence of this when we did an analysis several months ago.
Here’s one more chart related to these agencies – this one showing the average number of postings by month.
Clearly, of this group Homeland Security has most tendency toward an end of fiscal year preference. However, I included it in this list because it has a relatively high volume of procurements, and the activity picks up pretty early in the year – late February to early March. This is unusual for traditionally well-funded agencies like DHS.
We would not encourage contractors to ignore these agencies during the federal buying season (it's still pretty common for high-value or prominent procurements to close in September, regardless of agency) but just to recognize that the volume of solicitations is unlikely to surge over the next several weeks. We do recommend planning your pursuits for these agencies differently – perhaps setting up a separate Pipeline for longer term pursuits. And, as always, it is beneficial to set up well-targeted Alerts and to Track your high-value Agencies and Projects. Take a look at our video tutorials to get started.