Myth No. 10: Solicitations are filled with boilerplate provisions, and we really don’t have to read them carefully.

*This post is the tenth in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.  Webster’s Dictionary defines “boilerplate” as “the detailed standard wording of a contract.”  In the world of Government contracting, “boilerplate” usually refers to those standard provisions that are plucked from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) and dropped into the Government’s solicitations and contracts.  It is true that the solicitations and contracts issued by the Government are filled with boilerplate, but it is also true that countless contractors have been burned by that very boilerplate. Government contracts are contracts of adhesion, i.e., they aren’t deals that are negotiated from the ground up, created from scratch by … Continue reading

Myth No. 9: Only the big guys succeed.

*This post is the ninth in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.  It is true that the media focuses on the big names in Government contracting, and those big names are very successful; but, for a variety of reasons, it is also true that a small business can thrive in this market as well.  In our prior myths we have discussed a number of ways in which Government contracting differs from the commercial sector, and we are about to discuss another one—socioeconomic goals.  Put simply, Congress recognized a long time ago that Government contracting could be a very useful tool for enhancing social and economic … Continue reading

Myth No. 8: We Can Treat Our Government Customers the Same Way We Treat Our Commercial Customers

*This post is the eighth in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.  Over the last 20 years or so, the Government contracts sector has seen countless new entrants.  Many of these newcomers are experienced commercial-sector concerns that have decided to give the Government a try.  Others are just newcomers.  Some have succeeded better than others, but all of them have bruises to show for it.  That is because they made the mistake of focusing on the potential sales they could make rather than on the procedures and practices that would be involved, and they learned about those the hard way. About ten years ago I … Continue reading

Myth No. 7: Our Documents, Including Our Proprietary Information and Intellectual Property, Are Safe With the Government.

*This post is the seventh in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.  There are a myriad of ways that doing business with the Federal Government differs from the commercial sector, and protection of a company’s sensitive business information is one of them.  The most important thing for you to understand is that everything that you submit to the Federal Government is subject to a statute called the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).  This statute was enacted in 1967 based in part on the philosophy, to paraphrase Justice Brandeis, that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  In other words, the more open and transparent our Government is, … Continue reading

Myth No. 6 We Don’t Have To Market to the Federal Agencies Like We Do in the Commercial Sector Because the Feds Have a Regulated Process.

*This post is the sixth in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.  In the on-line world we live in, someone might believe that the only thing necessary to chase Government business is to log on to FedBizOpps.  That would be a mistake.  Indeed, many a veteran will tell you that by the time an opportunity appears on FedBizOpps it is too late to have a realistic opportunity for award.  It may not be impossible, but it is going to be an uphill battle. It is true that a great deal of business can be conducted by sitting at your computer, but it is also true … Continue reading

Myth No. 5: My Prime Contractor Will Tell Me What Clauses Should Be in Our Subcontract.

*This post is the fifth in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.  I have lost count of the number of times I have heard this one. Anyone who believes it is true needs some immediate counseling, because this is a recipe for disaster.  Let’s start by stating the obvious:  a prime contractor has its interests to protect and a subcontractor must protect its own interests.  The interests of the two parties are going to overlap a great deal, but they are never going to be identical. As I mentioned in Myth No. 4, there are a lot of landmines in a Government contract and any … Continue reading

Myth No. 4: We Will Only Work as a Subcontractor Because We Don’t Want To Be Exposed the Way a Prime Is

*This post is the fourth in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.    How many times have you heard this?  My response is always the same:  Have you actually read any of your subcontracts?  I already know the answer to that question, of course, because no one who has read a properly drafted subcontract could ever utter the words above. If a prime contractor is doing its job, it is going to “flow down” many of the clauses from its prime contract to its subcontractors.  Primes go about this in a variety of ways.  Some will actually print each and every clause verbatim and include … Continue reading

Myth No. 3: The Contracting Officer Really Isn’t Our Customer; the Program People Are.

*This post is the third in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.  One of the most significant differences between commercial contracting and Government contracting is the presence and importance of a person called the “Contracting Officer.”  There is really no commercial equivalent of the C.O., and it is critical that a Government contractor understand the role that the C.O. plays.  In a nutshell, nothing happens in Government contracting unless the C.O. says it does. Imagine if every single Government employee, from the president down to a buck private, had the unlimited ability to commit the Government contractually.  That’s ridiculous, of course.  If that were the … Continue reading

Myth No. 2: We Should Always Protest.

*This post is the second in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.  The decision to file a protest highlights one of the unique features of contracting with the U.S. Government, involving as it does a long list of questions that must be addressed and the pressure of having to decide whether to sue a customer within a very short time frame. In Myth No. 1, “We should never protest,” I explained why there might be certain situations where a company really should protest.  As in other walks of life, however, a company’s reputation is an important part of its success, and its reputation could be … Continue reading

Ten Myths of Government Contracting: Myth No. 1: We Should Never Protest

*This post is the first in the ten part series, “Ten Myths of Government Contracting” and will be released weekly. Each week will introduce  a new myth and run for ten weeks.    Myth No. 1:  We should never protest.   Bid protests are an intimidating aspect of Government contracting, not only because they usually mean hiring a lawyer, but also because most people don’t even like the thought of suing their customer.  Protests certainly are not part of the commercial business sector, but they are a daily occurrence in Government contracting, and anyone jumping into this business needs to understand how protests work and the role they play. Most protests relating to a U.S. Government procurement may be filed in three separate places—with the … Continue reading