Locking in long-term revenues (how the government budgets)

Why you should know this

  • Lock in long-term secure revenue: The holy grail of federal contracting is having money for you literally written into the federal budget and passed by congress. And this is commonly called a “program of record.” This is what every large business, and many small businesses are trying to get.
  • The budget process sets your timeline: To have your product or service (and the money for it) written into the federal budget you have to start at the very beginning, when federal agencies are identifying needs for the next fiscal year, and estimating the budget they need to meet those needs. And the time that that takes, and the places where your project can die are controlled by the budget process

The budget process

  • Requests bubble up: Budgets are built from the bottom up, so programs identify their needs and budget requests, those combine across departments, sub-agencies, agencies, until the president creates a single budget request for the entire US government which is sent to congress.
  • Funding flows down: Congress debates, reviews, and amends the budget then votes on the budget and once the budget is passed money starts flowing down till it reaches your program and you get paid

Implications for you:

  • All of this years money has a home, and probably next year’s also: Given that needs and budgets are set two years out all of the money for the next two years already has a home, which means that if you want the government to buy something they hadn’t thought of (like your product or service) you will need to:
    • Convince them to move money around
    • Help them find extra dollars
  • This is a long play: You need to start engaging the people defining requirements and asking for budget two year in advance
  • You need to find the requirements generators: As you meet people at program offices and other requirements generators do your best to build relationships with them. They are the gatekeepers to getting into a program of record