ABCs of Government Contracts
Red Tape, bureaucracy, strict deadlines and even stricter specifications—securing a government print contract is no easy feat. And it’s even more intimidating considering what’s at stake. The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO)—the federal government’s primary centralized resource for gathering, cataloging, producing, authenticating and preserving published information—awarded $440 million in contracts in fiscal year 2008. The office is budgeting a 5 percent increase (approximately $22 million more) in print procurement for fiscal year 2009.
But print suppliers can get to those projects, which are awarded through a bid process, if they plan, pay attention and deliver on what they promise.
Suppliers wanting to bag a government contract should start small and build a good reputation, GPO Public Printer Bob Tapella said. “That’s my best advice. If you’re a small mom-and-pop printer with a million a year business, don’t go for the $30 million project. You’re not going to meet the specifications and you’re not going to get the job.”
Instead, Tapella suggested businesses take a look at themselves and the work that they do.
“Look at what you have, look at what you’ve done and what you’re good at,” Tapella said. “Is it forms, envelopes? Specialties set you apart.”
Scoring a government print contract really comes down to three things: “quality, service and price,” said William A. Gindlesperger, founder, chairman and CEO of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania-based e-LYNXX Corporation. The corporation has been helping printers secure government contracts for the nearly last 35 years, and a majority of the print vendors used by the GPO are its clients.
Unfortunately, print vendors often have no idea what they’re getting into when they make their first leap into the world of government printing, Gindlesperger said.
“Government work is not simple unless you know what you’re doing,” he continued. “The GPO has its own language, requirements. It’s much different from commercial [projects].”