Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Stimulus Package a "Buffet" for Business

Is the economic stimulus package a 9/11 event reborn?

That’s the question government contractors, construction firms, program management providers and technology vendors are most likely asking themselves these days.

After the September 11th attacks, there was a flood of homeland security and defense contracts pushed through the pipeline. In a flash, companies of all shapes and sizes repositioned themselves to pursue these opportunities. Lobbyists and lawyers were hired to lead a trek of corporate executives to Capitol Hill to make their plea for a taste of the homeland security spend.

Yet, a majority of the business ultimately went to the defense contractors, systems integrators and technology providers that have long been a fixture in the government market.

Why? Because they maintain long-standing relationships with decision-makers at federal agencies and on military bases. The President and Congress set policy. Spending decisions are typically made at the program level.

This week market research firm INPUT announced that federal contractors will be able to hunt more than $60B in projects under the economic stimulus bill passed by the Senate. At an event I attended yesterday sponsored by Arnold & Porter, former Congressman Tom Davis dropped this on the crowd:

“If you have a good federal or state/local practice, the stimulus package is a buffet dinner. Government won’t be able to manage and deliver all of these programs.”

The soon to pass economic stimulus will create a new stampede of companies into the public sector. Awareness and visibility on the Hill is important. Yet, to capture business there must also be an investment in awareness creation, relationship building and direct sales activities at the program, base and tactical levels.

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