The fourth quarter sprint to the finish line of the 2020 fiscal year starts in about a week. So what can federal contractors expect?
According to Cameron Leuthy, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Government, professional services will be big, the coronavirus pandemic will present both complications and opportunities, and small businesses should already be getting ready.
To project what’s coming, analysts usually look to the previous year as a template. In 2019, Q4 included 30% of all obligations for the entire fiscal year. The Defense Department alone spent just shy of $120 billion. The departments of Housing and Urban Development, Interior and State each had more than 50% of their total obligations for 2019 in the fourth quarter. September was particularly lucrative, with $94.3B spent that month alone, 66% of which came from DoD.
There are a number of reasons for that, Leuthy said. Sometimes those reasons include policy, or maximizing potential leverage with foreign governments, in the case of the State Department. Sometimes funds are just deliberately held back from obligations, though there can be legal ramifications for that.
“Civilian agencies did hold back in some cases, because of the difference between the amount the administration asked for and the amount that Congress eventually ended up appropriating,” Leuthy said. “There’s also an incentive, and a prudent one, to hold back obligations during CRs and not get ahead of yourself.”
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