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Partnerships will Pave the way Forward

Public and private collaboration will be the norm as COVID-19 is contained and America’s economy is revitalized

By Mary Scott Nabers

State and local government contracting represented a multitrillion dollar marketplace before the recent pandemic. That marketplace is now much larger … but its current size is insignificant compared to what it will be six months from now.

To combat the virus, trillions of dollars are being spent on services and equipment supplied by private-sector companies. Trillions more will be spent to get people back to work.

To reset the economy in 2020, trillions more will be sent to state and local governmental entities. Projects of all types will be launched, and almost all will be collaborative initiatives between public and private entities. That will be the fastest way to create jobs and combat a recession that is inevitable.

When the President declared a national emergency, that action allowed the release of important emergency procurement tools for federal, state, and local government officials. It also immediately freed up $50 billion for public entities to spend.

Then, when major disaster designations were issued for numerous states, more procurement leniencies were allowed and additional funding became available to state and local government officials. Federal agencies began coordinating with other jurisdictions and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Supplies and services of every type are still needed. Demand has far exceeded supply. The unfortunate realization by many companies and organizations capable of helping governmental entities was that they didn’t know how to get started.

Too many firms that could have played a major role in recovery efforts were unable to overcome the challenges they faced. They didn’t know how or where to interact with public agencies.

Government contracting guidelines are hard to come by in emergency situations and most are difficult to understand. What follows is a quick, basic overview of a few government procurement basics because collaborative efforts between public and private sector parties will be America’s future.

There are many jurisdictions, and they all contract with private sector partners. Eventually, companies should check out procedures at every jurisdiction, but selling locally to government is likely the most immediate way to start.

At the federal level, there are basic procedures and different ways to find opportunities:

  • Become part of the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedules Program.
  • Small firms can get assistance with the federal level through individual agencies’ Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
  • Become a subcontractor by working for another company that is pursuing a contract with the federal government.
  • Register for notifications and search the Contract Opportunities Search Tool on
FEMA also offers ways for the private sector to get involved.

At the state level of government, most jurisdictions have sites for businesses to donate or sell supplies. Some of them include New York, Massachusetts, Washington, and Michigan.

Finally, at the local levels of government, almost all public entities have websites that set out procurement guidelines. And, most cities and counties have designated public officials to assist companies interested in selling to government.

Funding will flow to states, cities, counties, school districts, universities, public hospitals, community colleges, health districts, transit agencies, and every other division of government.

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, local and state government officials will receive $274 billion for COVID-19 use.

The funding that is available now is but a start for government contractors. To get the country back to normal, public-private initiatives will be increased significantly.

And, to ensure that businesses are viable and able to work with government, Congress has provided various types of relief related to the pandemic. Businesses that have suffered because of shutdowns will find various types of relief in the most recent recovery program. The CARES Act sets out significant resources and funding in programs that will be administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

To ease even more strain on businesses around the country, the SBA has been given $350 billion that will be allocated through forgivable loans to businesses of all types. The funds are to be used for employee salaries and lease payments. The bill also sets aside $10 billion in grants for small businesses that need help covering short-term operating costs.

The future is clear – the pandemic will be contained and America will recover. Trends that have been set by COVID-19 will change many things. One obvious change is that government contracting, which has always been the norm, will be even more robust. It will be a significant component of the country’s recovery and its continued vitality over the next decade.

Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S.