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The beginning of a new year, and a new presidential administration, brings a great deal of change and a degree of uncertainty. Expect that to hold true for government contracting as well, but let that change and uncertainty propel your business to drive greater value and more originality to get business with the federal government. Keep that in mind as you read about four trends “shaping” government contracting in 2017 below.

1. Digital-First Government

digital-first government

We live in a digital-first world, it only makes sense that the federal government follow suit. In the years to come, we should expect the government to provide more opportunities for interaction and engagement with people across devices, channels, and apps. This shift towards a digital mindset brings opportunities for businesses to bring more innovation and technologies to the government that better serve and protect its citizens.

2. Fiercer Competition with Category Management

competition with category management

Category management is a strategic business practice that organizes products into categories as opposed to being organized by brand or retailer. By focusing on a specific area, the government can better define the role, purpose and need for that product category. It helps fight against price fixing or playing favorites between retailers and suppliers. For example, categories may be divided into IT, medical and transportation services. Those categories may be broken up even further within those categories, i.e. IT will be broken down into IT software, IT hardware, and IT security categories. For businesses, the government will try to eliminate duplicate contracts and redundancies by determining which contracts are their preferred sources for certain goods and services.

3. Unorthodox Innovation

unorthodox innovation

In June 2016, the Department of Defense (DOD) held “Hack the Pentagon,” a pilot bug bounty program that paid friendly hackers to find and report DOD network vulnerabilities. The program cost $150,000, instead of the estimated $1 million if the DOD had hired an outside firm. Expect more of these unconventional methods of conducting business in the future. And think about how your business offer a creative solution that takes less time and provides more value for the government.

4. Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act)

DATA Act

It’s tempting to say “nothing new to see here” when it comes to compliance, just more regulations. While that feeling is understandable, compliance regulations are never something to ignore. Some regulations might even make contractors’ lives easier. The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) takes effect on May 9, 2017. The DATA Act requires federal government agencies to standardize the way spending report documents are formatted, and requires all federal spending to be published as machine- readable data on USASpending.gov and available for all to access. Not only does this allow for the government to be held accountable for the way it spends money, but also makes it easier for contractors to report to federal agencies on how they use federal funds. Instead of manual compliance, contractors can use software for automated, streamlined compliance reporting.