Lots of futures have been dependent on the outcome of this election, both for the American people and for marketing communication firms looking to secure federal contracts during this upcoming presidential term.
Last month, GrowthLab published a special report examining recent historical trends and data to try and predict where federal contracting opportunities could arise once the race was decided. The goal was to provide marketing communications firms with information that would help them prepare their long-term public sector growth strategy, and take a little bit of the confusion out of these uncertain times. Although it is impossible to fully predict how federal spending will play out in the coming months, one thing is certain: contractors should expect dramatic changes to the federal landscape in the months and years ahead.
Federal Spending under a Biden Presidency
President-Elect Biden’s first term is starting with the largest federal budget deficit in U.S. history, with a deficit of $3.1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year. As of yet this has not influenced Biden’s FY21 spending proposal, but it will take a lot of negotiation with Congress to fully get his budget approved. Regardless, President-Elect Biden’s budget proposal and work as Vice President during the Obama administration offers some key insights into where his priorities lie.
It is no secret that Trump worked hard to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy over the past
four years, with varying degrees of success. It’s likely that President-Elect Biden will move to restore at least some of the Obama-era policies that he helped create, especially when it comes to federal agency spending. One of the key features of Biden’s presidential campaign was his “Buy American” plan, taken directly from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that he helped create during his time as Vice President. This proposed provision boasts a $400 billion increase in federal agency spending on products and services based in the United States, which could help to create many project-based opportunities for marketing communications firms.
When it comes to which specific agencies are likely to receive an increased amount of funding in the coming years, President-Elect Biden will most likely look to reverse the spending patterns that Trump operated under during his presidency. The federal departments that took the biggest financial hits under the Trump administration were the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Energy, Department of the Treasury, and Department of Homeland Security. President-Elect Biden proposed a number of massive projects related to infrastructure, education, energy and other domestic priorities during his campaign, so it’s likely that we will see an increase of funding for these departments in the coming years.
It’s also likely that marketing communication firms will be contracted to promote new projects aimed at renewing public awareness of the missions of federal departments and agencies that saw large cuts under the Trump administration. Included in these agencies are the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Consumer Finance and Protection Bureau (CFPB), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). These agencies, as well as diplomatic institutions such as the State Department and USAID, should expect a dramatic increase in federal funding as the Biden administration targets a new emphasis on diplomacy over military power.
The Future For Marketing Communication Firms
One of the key promises that President-Elect Biden made while on the campaign trail was increasing the amount of equity that many 8(a)s and minority-owned firms maintained in the government marketplace. His current proposal calls for tripling the dollar value of federal contracts awarded to businesses owned by racial minorities, from 5% to 15% by 2025. He’s also called for the establishment of a Federal Procurement Center that would help minority-owned firms bid on and win federal contracts, and has stated his commitment to the government’s goal of awarding at least 23% of contracts to small businesses.
Another target area that the Biden administration will undoubtedly require marketing communication assistance with is environmental policy. Biden is pursuing the most ambitious climate plan in US history, calling for $2 trillion in spending on climate-friendly infrastructure over the next four years. Marketing communication firms can expect an increased need for recruitment services, specifically for the Department of Energy and Department of Interior. There will also be an increased need for promotions of new government initiatives relating to environmental policy, as well as help with agency communication with NGOs and the private sector detailing new standards and requirements.
Marketing communication firms should also prepare themselves for the inevitability that a lot of the deregulation that occurred under Trump will be reversed in a Biden presidency. Constraints on contractor hiring and employee management practices were common in the Obama administration, and it’s safe to assume that Biden will look to restore at least some of these regulations during his time in office.
Falling in line with his campaign promises, President-elect Biden will most likely rely on small-businesses to help his efforts in rebuilding the economy. For small businesses, this means ensuring that your workforce is equipped to fulfill future government needs. Continue to bolster your technology expertise, especially as a digital infrastructure and a remote workforce becomes the new normal.
For larger marketing communication firms, don’t be discouraged by a potential influx of set-aside programs; you can compete for those as well. The SBA’s “All Small Mentor-Protégé Program” (ASMPP) allows large firms to partner with smaller firms, allowing you to compete for contracts under various set-asides as long as your protégé qualifies. This is also a great opportunity for smaller businesses to build closer partnerships with a specialized firm, especially if your firm does not currently have the skills or expertise to compete for larger opportunities.
The bottom line is this: Marketing communication firms should expect more contract opportunities as government funds are more evenly distributed across federal agencies. That means that now more than ever is the time to be prepared. Keep searching for new leads and reach out to old contacts. If you have contacts who left the public sector after Trump took office, ask them if they plan to return with the new administration change. If you have agency contacts, ask them if there are any upcoming campaigns or initiatives to look out for. Exhaust any resources you have in collecting information, as that has the potential to set your company apart during the upcoming presidential term.
Contact us for the full report.
Contributors: Tommy Benz and Mike Kapetanovic are principals at GrowthLab, a growth consultancy that secures federal contract dollars for marketing communications agencies. Visit their website at www.growthlab.us for more information.