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Half-way Through FY 2015, How Much Are Agencies Spending on Contracts?

It’s April, and that means we are half way through fiscal year (FY) 2015. So I thought I would take a look at the available federal contracting data to see what can we tell so far about how much federal departments have spent on contracts at the mid-point in the year and see what might be in store for us in the second half of FY 2015.

For comparison and context I looked the federal contract obligations reported for each federal agency for FY 2014, quarter by quarter, and then the first two fiscal quarters of FY 2015, which just closed at the end of March. Then, to get what I thought would be a conservative approach to estimating what spending might look like for the remainder of FY 2015 I took 90% of each agency’s total FY 2014 contract spending and subtracted out what agencies have already reported for actual Q1 and Q2 contract spending. In other words, my assumption is that agencies would spend at least 90% of what they did last year. Finally, based on this 90% spending assumption I calculated each agency’s FY 2015 Q1 and Q2 relative percentages of total (90%) estimated obligations.

Contract Obligations Compared

Historically, the twenty top-spending departments accounted for about 98% of all federal contract obligations, so I focused my attention on these departments. In FY 2014, these accounted for $85.9B and $105.2B in total contract obligations for Q1 and Q2 respectively. For comparison, these departments reported $104.7B and $141.7B in contract obligations for Q3 and Q4 respectively for FY 2014. (See table below.)

In FY 2015, these top twenty have reported $89.3B and $34.1B for Q1 and Q2 respectively, although DoD lags in their financial reporting by up to 90 days so Q2 is understated. Still, if these top agencies spend 90% of what they did in all of FY 2014 they will have more than $270B left to obligate in the remaining two quarters of this fiscal year.


Observations

  • A handful of departments have Q1 FY 2015 obligations lower than they did in Q1 of FY 2014 (DoD, USAF, State, DoT, Ed, and Labor). Most have marginally higher obligations year-over-year, although Navy reported over $6B (+40%) more in obligations in Q1 in FY 2015 than last year.
  • More departments appear to be lagging in Q2 FY 2015 compared to Q2 of last year and some of these are fairly large relative proportions. For example, HHS shows a $1B (-24%) decrease in Q2. Similarly, VA has reported a $1.1B (-30%) decrease. Finally, State, GSA, and DOT each have reported about a 50% drop in Q2 FY 2015 obligations from Q2 FY 2014. Of course, given the DoD’s three-month reporting delay we will not know the contracting rates among those departments until this summer.
  • Taken together, the four defense branches in Q1 FY 2015 have reported $3B more in obligations than they reported in Q1 of FY 2014, although the DoD and Air Force have reported lower levels year-over-year.  

A graphical representation of the relative proportions of each department’s contract spending gives a sense of seasonality and/or changes from year to year. Due to the sheer number of departments I have split these into Defense and Civilian segments. This further highlights the yearly changes for Navy, HHS, VA, State, GSA, and DOT. (See charts below.)


 


 

This kind of macro-level analysis is useful in getting a general sense of quarterly and yearly patterns across the departments. Of course, the remaining FY 2015 obligation estimation depends on its main 90% assumption. Last year, this approach pointed to roughly $285B in combined FY 2014 Q3 and Q4 obligations among the top twenty departments. A year later, the final FY 2014 Q3 and Q4 data shows that actual obligations came in at $246.4B, so at first glance it appears that my 90% assumption was a bit optimistic. However, the difference turns out to be a matter of timing rather than magnitude. The final FY 2014 Q1 and Q2 obligations given above come in at $69B higher than what agencies reported at this time last year, reflecting revisions due to lagging obligation data being added later in the year. So the numbers effectively washed out once the dust settled. Unfortunately, there is no reliable way of predicting how consistently agencies will report their contract spending from year to year.

As most federal business development people will attest, understanding your agency’s spending patterns goes a long way to being able to successfully work with them to get contracts awarded as well as develop your yearly business plan. 

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

 

State and Local AEC Snapshots: Baltimore County, Md.

You know Baltimore County’s capital project plan is big when the Maryland Stadium Authority is the agency administering the project. How big? More than $1 billion big.

In 2014, Baltimore County Executive Director Kevin Kamenetz unveiled an aggressive $1.1 billion school renovation plan. More than 80 percent of the county’s schools are more than 40 years old, and school populations are expected to grow, despite the county’s 0.7 percent population growth rate.

In fiscal year 2014, Baltimore County spent $97 million on construction within elementary and secondary education, and an additional $19 million within higher education. Elementary and secondary spending is up from $84 million in fiscal year 2011, and the numbers are expected to rise dramatically with the billion-dollar capital project plan coming to fruition. 

It is no secret that local governments tend to favor local vendors when it comes to AEC contracts, but this doesn’t mean that a company based outside of Maryland or Virginia has no chance of winning a piece of the $1 billion pie. Vendors should be aware that the Maryland Stadium Authority has publicly stated that it is “not restricting it [contracts] just to local firms,” but “part of the desire of the program is to maximize local participation.”

Another unknown result of the county’s massive education infrastructure overhaul is the effect it will have on surrounding counties or even neighboring states. Many counties and cities across the country have dilapidated schools in dire need of renovation or replacement, but lack funding to pay for the upgrades. Baltimore County brought the $158 million education bond to voters in November 2014. It was the largest voter-approved referendum in the county’s history. Additional localities may take a similar route to put more money toward education.

A quick glance at the county’s surrounding Baltimore area shows a similar picture. Howard County’s top construction expenditure in fiscal year 2014 was elementary and secondary education, at $71 million. Anne Arundel County spent nearly $131 million on elementary and secondary education construction, also its highest expenditure. While education and construction on education-related projects are typically top spending areas for counties, it is clear that education spending has taken even greater priority in Maryland.

You can learn more about state and local spending with GovWin IQ’s State Profiles and Local Snapshots. Not a subscriber, click here to gain access with a free trial. 

 

State and Local AEC Snapshots: Fairfax County, Va.

The state and local architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market reached new heights in the public sector last year, with construction put in place (CPIP) reaching $274.4 billion, per the U.S. Census Bureau. CPIP refers to the measure of the value of the construction installed. Looking beyond CPIP to related architecture and engineering consulting, the number would be even greater.

Deltek will begin looking at the AEC market through the lens of specific entities in order to understand how certain markets have evolved and where they are heading. Fairfax County, Virginia, is the subject of our first profile.

Fairfax County’s overall expenditures have increased 3.5 percent over the past nine years, due in part to increasing population and government employment. Drilling even further into the county’s construction expenditures tells a similar story.

The chart below depicts the top categories within the county’s construction spending as well as annual spending since 2011. Elementary and secondary education has consistently been the greatest construction expenditure, from $163 million in 2011, to nearly $180 million in 2014. 

One explanation for the significant rise in construction expenditures since 2011 is increasing population – from approximately 970,000 in 2000, to an estimated 1.13 million in 2013. With population increases comes a greater need for schools and other infrastructure to accommodate more people. While other construction categories showed modest growth, such as water utilities and highways, it doesn’t compare to the growth within education. Fairfax County, with its close proximity to the federal government, will likely see continued population growth and construction needs in widespread markets, not just the education space.

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

Federal Fourth Quarter FY 2014, Part 2 – $30B in IT Contracts Likely

The last two months of fiscal year (FY) 2014 are nearly upon us and that puts us on the cusp of the height of the 4th quarter (Q4) “federal IT busy season.” Even with several disruptions that have marked the first half of FY 2014, agencies do have budgets in place and are spending. If historical averages hold, several agencies will spend more than 50% of their FY 2014 contracted IT dollars in Q4.

Last week, I looked at potential total fourth quarter spending for the top 25 departments and agencies across all categories of contracted products and services, based on their reported historical contracted spending over the last several years. This week, I will focus on the Information Technology (IT) category in a similar fashion. (See last week’s entry for more detail on my approach.)

From FY 2009-2013 federal departments reported spending an average of 32% of their yearly contract dollars in the fourth quarter across all spending categories. However, the percentage of Q4 IT contract spending was 39% among the same departments for that period. Agencies tend to buy more of their IT in Q4 compared to other products and services, on average. Translating that into dollars, over the last five fiscal years federal agencies spent an average aggregate of nearly $30 billion on IT hardware, software, and services in Q4 alone. This is the case based on historical spending data, even in the era of sequestration and other budget constraints.

Which departments are the best targets for a firm’s Q4 IT capture efforts? Over the last five fiscal years the following 25 departments or agencies reported the largest overall contracted IT spending and make up 99% of the federal market. The chart below shows their average contracted IT spending in Q4 over the last five years.


Sixteen of the 25 top-spending departments will spend an average of 40% or more of their yearly contracted IT dollars in Q4 (and several more departments are not far behind in percentage points.) Those 16 departments account for an average of $20 billion in combined Q4 IT contracts from FY 2009-2013.

Three departments or agencies historically obligate more than half of their yearly IT contract dollars in the final fiscal quarter: AID (55%), State (56%) and HUD (70%).  Their 5-year average Q4 IT contracted spending is:

  • AID = $141.5 million
  • State = $690.5 million
  • HUD = $181.9 million

Not far behind, the departments that spend between 45% and 48% of their yearly IT contract dollars in Q4 – like HHS, DOJ, SSA, Energy, and DOI – tend to have even larger IT budgets. These five departments account for a combined average of $3.2 billion in Q4 IT contracts over the last 5 fiscal years.

Much of these contract dollars will flow to commodity IT products like software and peripherals, but significant dollars will also go toward IT services. Proposals that were submitted weeks or months ago may come back to the foreground for potential action and companies that can quickly turn around competitive quotes for their federal customers may have a chance at stealing business from incumbents. 

With FY 2014 getting a bit of a slow start due to delayed budgets and agency shutdowns, the rebounding we are seeing in the second half of the year may result in a record-breaking Q4. We will have to wait and see.

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

 

Federal Fourth Quarter FY 2014 – Who’s Got the Money?

It’s that time of year again in the federal contracting world – the final quarter of the fiscal year, i.e. the Q4 “busy season.” After a rocky start to FY 2014, marked by budget impasses, shutdowns, continuing resolutions and sequestration, contracted spending appears to be catching up and may be on track for a record fourth quarter. Some federal departments will spend more than 40% of their contract dollars in the next few weeks.  

Due to the topsy-turvy environment over the last few years taking a bit of a historical perspective on spending may help to get a sense of what is likely in store for this Q4. According to their FPDS reported contracted spending over the last seven years, federal departments spent an average of 43.4% of their yearly discretionary budgets with contractors. Applying that percentage to the enacted FY 2014 discretionary budget of $1.127 trillion means over $489 billion in contract spending would be spent in all of FY 2014. Further, from FY 2009-2013 federal departments reported spending about 32% of their yearly contract dollars in the fourth quarter. That means more than $156 billion of FY 2014 contracted spending is likely to be obligated in the last 12 weeks of the fiscal year. Given a slow start in Q1, the actual Q4 amount could be billions higher as agencies work to catch up.

So which departments and agencies are most likely to have big money to spend between now and the end of September?  Looking at total contract obligations over the last five fiscal years, the following 25 departments reported the largest overall contracted spending and make up 99% of the market. The chart below shows their average contracted spending in Q4.

Eight of the largest departments on average spend at least 40% of their contract dollars in the last fiscal quarter and the State Department averages nearly 60%. In average dollar amounts, the Army, Navy, Air Force and DoD will have the most to obligate. From the civilian side HHS, VA, DHS, Energy, and State will be the biggest Q4 spenders.

Contractors need to be well-prepared to meet the needs of their federal customers to effectively and efficiently get these contract needs met by being highly responsive and by providing compelling proposals and bids. The dollars will flow, but where they go may be still up for grabs.


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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

 

IT Contracting Half-way Through FY 2014 – Civilian is Chugging, but Can DoD Catch Up?

A year ago at this time, if you will recall, we were watching and waiting to see if federal agencies would have FY 2013 appropriations made and budgets approved or whether they would face full-year continuing resolution-level spending and sequestration. What a difference a year makes, with FY 2014 budgets passed months ago. So how are agencies doing at getting their information technology (IT) contract dollars obligated at the mid-point and what might we expect in the second half of FY 2014? Let’s take a look.

Last week, I looked at the total market contract obligations at the mid-fiscal-year point. This week I’ll look specifically at IT obligations. In this, and other similar scenarios that I have explored, I took a rough “back of envelope” approach to projecting potential contract obligation rates for the remaining two fiscal quarters. For consistency, I will use the same baseline: If agencies obligate at least 90% of what they did in FY 2013, what might that project for spending on contracts in the second half of this fiscal year.

In the latest federal FY 2015 IT budget request, OMB reported the total enacted FY 2014 IT budget to be about $75 billion, which is $2.5 billion (3.5%) more than agencies spent in FY 2013.  So this 90% threshold that I am using for potential FY 2014 spending, while not a perfect comparison, might be conservative. We’ll just have to see.

Contract Obligations Compared

For IT, these twenty top-spending departments account for $16.2 billion in combined Q1 and Q2 obligations for FY 2014 so far, although DoD’s reporting lag will most certainly increase that amount. If they spend 90% of what they did in FY 2013 they will have $43.2 billion left to obligate in the remaining two quarters of this fiscal year. (See table below.) Under that assumption, the remaining federal departments and agencies would account for roughly $1.1 billion for Q3 and Q4, reaching the overall $44.4 billion mark for the second half of the year.

Observations

  • The civilian agencies in the top twenty have reported yearly obligations of $9.4 billion, $8.9 billion, and $9.5 billion for FY 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively. So for FY 2014 these civilian departments are currently running on par with FY 2012.

  • The defense branches have reported yearly obligations of $18.4 billion, $16.2 billion and $6.7 billion for FY 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively. Granted, the FY 2014 Q1-Q2 data is incomplete due to DoD’s reporting lag, which could take up to 90 days to settle out. So the question then is whether we will see another $10 billion in obligations post to the defense branches in the coming days to put them on par with last fiscal year or whether we will see the softening that’s apparent from FY 2012 to FY 2013.

  • Outside of DoD, there is not that much variance year-over-year. Most departments are within $100 million of what they spend in Q1-Q2 of last year. The SSA, USDA, and VA have posted increases of $200 million in obligations over this time in FY 2013.

What we may be seeing in the data so far – at least with the civilian organizations – is that they are enjoying the benefits of having budgets in place relatively early in the fiscal year, compared to dealing with CRs and late-breaking omnibus spending measures. There’s no surprise there. The real story in the data may be what is happening in the defense sector – that draw-downs, realignments, and program delays appear to be having noticeable impacts on their IT contracting run rates. Only time will tell if they will make up the difference in the second half of the year.

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

A Possible Contracted Spending Scenario for the Rest of FY 2014

Can you believe that we are half way through fiscal year 2014? Let’s take a look at the data to see what can we tell so far about how much federal departments have spent on contracts at the mid-point in the year and see what might be in store for us in the second half of FY 2014.

When I looked at the mid-fiscal-year spending rates last year, I proposed what I felt was reasonable approach to projecting potential contract obligation rates for the remaining two fiscal quarters. This year I again set a baseline that in FY 2014 agencies will obligate at least 90% of what they did in FY 2013 to drive my general projections for what they might spend on contracts in the second half of the fiscal year. See my previous blog for a more detailed explanation of my approach.

Contract Obligations Compared

The twenty top-spending departments account for $122.4B in combined Q1 and Q2 obligations for FY 2014. If they spend 90% of what they did in FY 2013 they will have $285.5B left to obligate in the remaining two quarters of this fiscal year. (See table below.) Under that assumption, the remaining federal departments and agencies would account for roughly $4.5B for Q3 and Q4, reaching the overall $290B mark for the second half of the year.


Observations

  • Only a few departments have a FY 2014 Q1 and Q2 obligation rate lower than they did in FY 2013, suggesting that their obligation rates may be higher than last year at this time, depending on total final obligations.

  • At this point in FY 2013, each defense branch had reported at least $3 billion more in obligations than they have reported for FY 2014, even under sequestration.
    • Navy has reported $15.2B for FY 2014, compared to $25.3B at this point in FY 2013
    • Army has reported $12.4B for FY 2014 18B, down from $17.8B for FY 2013
    • Defense Agencies have reported $16.6B for FY 2014, compared to $19.1B for FY 2013
    • Air Force has reported $14.1B, compared to $17.3B for FY 2013.

  • Seven of the twenty departments above saw drops of 5% or more from FY 2012 to FY 2013, five of which are civilian agencies, i.e. Energy, NASA, DHS, Justice, and Education. But without exception each of these departments has reported increases in the first two quarters of FY 2014 compared to FY 2013. Energy, NASA, and Education each show increases of 15 percentage points or greater.

  • Energy’s yearly cyclicality continues. During Q1 and Q2 the DoE tends to obligate roughly 45% and 75% alternately from year to year. Looking back at FY 2011 reveals that they spent $11.1B in the first two quarters, which accounted for 45% of their $25.1B total FY 2011 obligations.

  • NASA also reveals cyclicality in its contracting. In FY 2011 NASA reported $6.4B in combined Q1 and Q2 obligations accounting for 41% of their $15.4B total obligations for that year. Looking at the chart above we can see an oscillation in NASA’s obligations since then with $7.8B reported so far in FY 2014. Depending on whether my 90% assumption is pessimistic regarding their final spending will determine whether they have between 40-50% of their budget yet to obligate this fiscal year.

Implications

Some of the year-to-year changes shown above may be due to the appropriations levels and funding priorities that these departments received under the FY 2014 Omnibus funding bill passed earlier this year. However, what these changes more likely indicate is the impact of agencies having actual budgets earlier in the fiscal year, compared to having full-year continuing resolutions that freeze priorities and limit flexibility.

How useful or accurate this kind of macro-level estimation is depends in large part on its main assumptions. Last year this approach pointed to roughly $300 billion in potential combined FY 2013 Q3 and Q4 obligations. The final data shows that actual obligations came in at $265 billion, so my 90% assumption was optimistic in the age of uncertainty, sequestration, and year-long continuing resolutions. Actual combined Q1-Q2 obligations among the top twenty departments declined from $237.1 billion in FY 2012 to $194.0 billion in FY 2013, an 18% drop.

So far in FY 2014, these same departments have reported combined Q1 and Q2 obligations of $122.5 billion, BUT the four largest spenders – the defense branches – have not fully reported their Q2 data. Looking at the civilian departments only give us $65.7 billion, $57.6 billion, and $64.2 billion for FYs 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively, so FY 2014 is running only 2% below FY 2012 levels and is nearly 12% ahead of FY 2013.  We’ll just have to wait and see what comes from DoD.

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

State and Local Regional Top Opportunities for FY 2014

Deltek’s recently published State and Local Regional Top Opportunities for FY 2014 Report shines light on state and local contracting from a regional standpoint, spanning all verticals (health care, social services, justice and public safety, homeland security, transportation and general government). Using the GovWinIQ opportunities database, the free report analyzes the quantity and value of projects in each region across all vertical areas, and also takes a closer look at how the verticals are represented in each of the four regions. The top opportunities highlighted in the report were selected for their representation of major technologies within the six vertical areas and their illustration of state and local contracting as a whole. 

GovWinIQ Active Opportunities and Leads

Key takeaways from our regional analysis of state and local contracting opportunities include:

  • The South has the highest number of projects per region (662) as well as the highest total value of projects per region ($15.2 billion), mainly due to the inclusion of Texas, Virginia and Florida. Southern states, especially Florida, often utilize regional projects and initiatives and later implement them statewide.
  • The Midwest has the highest average value per project ($23.3 million), but the lowest number of total projects (423). Midwest states are innovators for cooperative contracts (WSCA) and many generic term contracts.
  • The Northeast has an interim number of projects (514) as well as interim average value per project ($22.2 million). Northeast states are often early adopters and innovators for federally mandated initiatives.

From a vertical and regional standpoint, key takeaways include:

Justice and Public Safety (JPS) and Homeland Security (HS) Verticals

  • The Northeast has the highest concentration of JPS contracting opportunities
  • In the Midwest, most JPS initiatives occur at the local level (Ohio, Ill., Wis.)
  • FirstNet will be a huge driver for state broadband initiatives nationwide

Health Care (HC) and Social Services (SS) Verticals

  • Eighty-three percent of active HC/SS opportunities are for statewide systems
  • Consortiums are increasingly popular nationwide for social services IT systems, including WIC MIS, SNAP/TANF EBT, and UI systems
  • Most local-level HC/SS opportunities are for electronic health/medical records or vital records

General Government (GenGov) Vertical

  • The South has the most active opportunities in the GenGov vertical (35.4 percent), followed by the West (24.6 percent), Northeast (21.6 percent), and Midwest (18.3 percent)
  • Data center consolidation/modernization, disaster recovery services, server virtualization, and cloud services are expected to be popular technologies/services procured over the next few years
  • California, Illinois and Texas have the most active GenGov opportunities, while active GenGov opportunities out of Pennsylvania, Virginia and California have the highest total value

Deltek is hosting a free webinar on the State and Local Regional Top Opportunities for FY 2014 Report on November 7, 2013, at 2 p.m. EST. The webinar will delve into all three state and local verticals, providing insight into some specific projects and overall trends for fiscal year 2014. To register for the webinar, please click here!

 

 

The nation’s capital preps IT endeavors for years to come: Education a primary focus

As part of ongoing efforts to expand GovWin IQ’s State and Local Lead Alerts product, Deltek analysts have been researching capital improvement plans (CIPs) nationwide to uncover potential business opportunities for vendors across vertical markets.
This month, we’ve focused heavily on Washington, D.C.’s fiscal year (FY) 2014-2019 CIP, which includes more than 100 IT and/or IT professional services projects in the years to come. These projects range from general IT upgrades, cybersecurity modernization, to crime-fighting technology.
From a vertical standpoint, general government services and education (primary/secondary) comprise the bulk of opportunities in the nation’s capital, as depicted in the graph below.

Education is clearly a major focus for D.C. in the coming fiscal cycles, with more than $9 million allocated toward IT projects for public schools. While details on specific technology requirements are minimal, the current CIP lists more than 70 elementary, middle and high schools with funds assigned to audio-visual and IT upgrades through FY 2019. Considering the heads up before the start of the 2014 fiscal year, vendors should take note of the facilities listed and begin building relationships with school officials to determine the types of IT projects planned, specific budgets, timelines, and how they can assist.
Drilling D.C.’s CIP down to a requirements level, Deltek identified more than 25 primary and secondary offerings that run the gamut from laptops, to geographic information systems, to surveillance equipment. Here is a look at the top 10 identified IT requirements.

Values of the projects detailed range from $250,000 for server consolidation, $4.1 million for enterprise resource planning services, to $28 million for enhanced 911 communications upgrades.
As a reminder, state and local leads coverage includes:
  • 50 states
  • 366 metropolitan statistical areas (Nearly 3,000 cities and counties)
  • Special districts, public universities, and independent school districts
Projects details in a Lead Alert include:
  • Project value: Funding identified by government agency
  • Lead year(s): The year or range of years a project is budgeted
  • Associated documents: The source from which the lead was generated (budget, CIP, article, etc.)
  • Key contact(s): Primary and secondary contacts associated with a project
  • Project ID: Government-specified project number or code
  • Related GovWin IQ content: Tracked Opportunities, Bid Notifications and Lead Alerts
  • Primary and secondary offerings
  • Vertical classification
For more details on Lead Alerts, check out our recent blog.
GovWin IQ subscribers can read further about the projects listed in the provided links. Non-subscribers can gain access with a GovWin IQ free trial

Federal IT Busy Season, Pt. 2 – September Rules!

Traditionally, August is a slower time in Washington with the summer temperatures at their highest and many people taking vacations. But for some, August is when they get busy ramping up for the close-out of the federal fiscal year (FY) at the end of September. This is especially true for IT procurements where in the overall game of yearly spending, September brings the lion’s share.

In my previous entry, I noted the historical trend of a growing percentage of IT obligations being reported in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, resulting in what we have come to reguard as the federal IT busy season. That could shape up to be around $28 billion in IT spend in Q4 of FY 2013, even if we see a 5% reduction in spending from last year.

This week I want to drill down into Q4 a bit more.  I took the total IT contract obligations for the past five completed fiscal years, 2008-2012, and looked at the average percentage of these obligations that were reported in Q4. I then broke out the average percentaged of these obligations that came in September.

The data is telling.  Of the $380 billion in reported IT obligation over the last 5 years from FY 2008 through FY 2012, nearly 40% has come in Q4 and 23% has come in September alone. That translates into an average of over $29 billion in IT in each Q4 and and average of more than $17 billion in IT obligations in each September. (See table below.)


To get a sense of which departments are the top prospects for IT buying in Q4 I looked at the top 20 departments by aggregate 5-year obligations and broke down the percentages of their spending that fell in Q4 and in September in particular. This too was interesting. The data shows that several departments obligate more than 40% of their IT dollars in Q4, on average. These include the State Department, SSA, HHS, Energy, Interior, DHS and Justice. In addition, several departments obligate more than 25% of their IT spend in September, on average, including State, SSA, HHS, Interior, DHS and Justice. (See chart below.)



So what do these average percentages mean for potential contracts in last few weeks of the fiscal year? Looking at the departments with the highest average level of obligations for September and the overall quarter gives us a sense of who has spent how much in recent history. These departments account for nearly $17 billion in September obligations. (See table below.)  The remaining 35 reporting agencies account for less than $500 million in September obligations by comparison. 



All of this underscores what many in the industry have experienced for many years. The fourth quarter is huge in federal IT and when it comes to closing business in Q4 it all comes down to September.

Granted, it is difficult to conclude with absolute certainty that the spending patterns we have seen over the last 5 years will hold true this year as well – especially at the same levels.  Delays and reductions related to sequestration and operational risks introduced by the furlough of acquisition staff introduce some of the greatest unknowns into the picture that we have seen.  Further, ongoing budget pressures and appropriations delays may be taking their toll. In FY 2012, total IT obligations were $3.5 billion less than in FY 2011 and Q4 obligations were down about 10% over Q4 FY 2011. 

So while Q4 of FY 2013 will be big – barring a total change in the “use it or lose it” mentality that has permeated the federal culture for so long – we’ll just have to wait and see just how big it really is.

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

 

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