Printer Friendly


I have always been curious about how things work and how institutions behave. As a government employee, I tended to snoop and sniff everywhere in my agency and with agency competitors, clients, etc. It really helps to figure things out to obtain a personal or corporate competitive edge.

The government is full of information. Currently GAO reports that there are about 42 agencies spending $349 million on the web pleases me. I can't wait for the day when we have a federal phone book web page. But first, most agencies will have to figure out how to get their phone book up to date faster than every two years.

The new procurement rules require a successful firm or salesperson to figure out how to drill down and find out things such as pending procurement info, current incumbents, budget data, which officials are calling the shots on the new bid from CINCPACDINKLT, etc. Longevity certainly helps and having been involved in government computers and contracts since 1959 is an edge. However, anyone who is literate on the net, enjoys reading and likes research, can start from scratch tomorrow and become quite expert in just a few months.

Here are some of the ideas it took me a long time to figure out. If the net continues to grow at the current rate consultants will be obsolete before long.

1) Join NCMA, IAC, AFCEA, FGIPC, etc. This is inexpensive and a good way to meet lots of people you need to know and to find out much desirable information.

2) Get a list of agency web sites and scout before the sales call. As a former government buyer, nothing caused me to dismiss a young salesperson quicker than a couple of questions which would reveal two things; you know nothing about me, my job, my computer system or my agency goals and/or you know nothing about the FAR. True, you can spend a lifetime learning more. But if you are bidding, you must understand one step and two step IFB rules, RFQ rules and RFP rules. If you are selling from the GSA schedule you must understand FAR 8.4 and the case law.

3) Make a few friends in your agency accounts that you can obtain the very difficult information from, but you must understand when you have stumbled onto forbidden information per the ethics rules. This is not a simple skill to acquire.

4) Learn to tap the public sources, the five year plan, the budget info, the installed base info, the technical architecture info, the quarterly forecast, etc.

5) Obtain the inexpensive handbooks, guidebooks, phone books, agency organization charts etc. Subscribe to the GAO reports and especially zero in on the ones pertaining to your industry, product or client agencies. Call Staff Directories and find out about their CD ROM with listings of 200,000 DOD employees and the $150 per year excellent phone book for all agencies. Others include Carroll Publishing and the Yellow Book. We prefer the Staff Directories products because they are so complete. Do you have 20 numbers for NSA? They do and their phone is (703) 739-0900.

6) Do some writing and public speaking to get your name in front of others you might benefit from knowing.

7) Play less golf and read more GAO reports, the Federal Register, the CBD, agency IG reports, etc. Acquire such public lists as the CAI/CISCO Silver Bullet List and exploit it.

8) When you visit the CIO of the target agency be brief and have your niche in the food chain ready to present with cost benefits and technical benefits readily available with copies to leave. The CIO list is on the Internet at

9) Understand FAR 15.5 since 40% of spending is sole source. You might be interested in our Monograph 1 on the subject. All the government has ever created is FAR 6.302 and it isn't much, but you need to know what it says and what it doesn't say.

Understand that government agencies and personnel really are there to help you such as the IG, the competition advocates, the highest procurement authorities, the small business advisers, etc. Take classes every month. Attend everything you can find until you no longer obtain worthwhile info. After 38 years, I do this almost weekly. Do you know who all of these people are in your target accounts? Do you know how to get this info? Are you on the GAO report catalog list? Do you read or are you a typical sales guy whose eyes glaze over the FAR, who has no clue about case law, who does not know how to find the ten top primes at EPA and who really has two skills, talking on the phone and drinking/golfing?

Times are changing for better or worse - this remains to be seen - but you will not succeed without individual personal development efforts, training, skills and sources. Take this simple test. How many phone calls does it take you to figure out which office controls the importation of medicines into the U.S.? Or, who is in charge of network security at EPA? No more than three calls and five minutes means honing your skills.

Good luck and good hunting!
COPYRIGHT 2002 Millin Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Miller, Terry
Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 27, 2002

Related Articles

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters