For the first time in a long time, more federal contractors reported decreases in their government contracting revenue last fiscal year than those who saw increases, according to a Grant Thornton survey of about 100 contractors.
Thirty-eight percent of contractors suffered reductions in revenue over the past year, compared with 36 percent that saw revenue increases and 26 percent that experienced no significant change, according to the annual Government Contractor Survey released last week. Professional Services Council sponsored the survey.
“This year’s survey shows more revenue shrinkage than growth and a plunge in net profit, with the majority of contractors seeing a tiny profit or none at all,” the survey said. “This despite reducing headcount and overhead, holding wages at generally the same level as in the last two years, cutting [general and administrative expenses] and benefits, and doing just about all a company can do to sustain profits. Contractors are up against costs that can’t be slashed and must be absorbed: indirect, health care, overtime and, for many, out-of-scope work.”
Companies said that 84 percent of their revenue came from federal business, which is the lowest reported over the past six years. Last year, federal business made up 93 percent of companies’ revenue.
Defense Department contractors were the hardest hit. Revenue from DoD contracts dropped 16 percentage points to 47 percent. However, revenue from civilian agencies rose 7 percentage points to 37 percent. State and local revenue accounted for 7 percent and commercial revenue made up 9 percent of companies’ revenue.
The survey assumes that reduced defense spending, changing priorities for the administration and insourcing are to blame for contractors’ revenue decline.
Overall, the median turnover rate for companies was 8.5 percent. Most of the companies surveyed sell professional services to the government, which may explain the high turnover rates. It’s common for employees to accept jobs with the winning vendor if their company loses a follow-on contract, the survey said.
When asked how often their companies won non-sole-sourced contracts, the median rate was 30 percent. When the company was the incumbent, that number rose to 50 percent.
In some cases, however, bid protests are triggered when incumbent vendors receive far lower scores than their competitors, despite having a stellar performance record, the survey said. “It should be noted that with the increased use of lowest price, technically acceptable contracts, the incumbent’s advantage is virtually erased.”
SAN DIEGO| It’s been more than a year since President Obama formally kicked off the “Campaign to Cut Waste” in a June 2011 executive order. Some agencies, though, seem to be taking the charge to reduce administrative costs more seriously than others, a newly released survey of chief financial officers and other federal financial managers indicates.
Although 45 percent of respondents said they have been getting “good results” from the campaign, almost as many (44 percent) said they had little to report, were just getting started, had laid plans to start, or (uh-oh) hadn’t done anything, according to the unscientific survey, sponsored by the Association of Government Accountants and consulting firm Grant Thornton. The report on the findings was released this week at AGA’s professional development conference here.
“We’ve spent more on meetings about the Campaign to Cut Waste than we’ve actually saved from cutting waste,” one unnamed CFO is quoting as saying.
Given that the campaign has now been under way for some time, the report labels the results “a little surprising,” Part of the explanation, it says, may lie in the fact that the effort is “an ongoing, evolving exercise rather than a one-shot drill.”
Through fiscal 2013, the White House wants to save a total of about $8 billion on administrative spending in comparison with FY10 levels, according to figures in its latest budget request.
Danny Werfel, controller for the Office of Management and Budget, said yesterday that he had not seen the results, but added that agency reports show the campaign is “making very critical progress” toward the $8 billion goal.
“We are, from a macro standpoint, where we need to be,” Werfel said. He acknowledged the likelihood, however, that some agencies are “kicking on all cylinders,” while others are just getting started.
The survey is based on in-person interviews with 115 CFOs, deputy CFOs and other senior federal financial management officials, including OMB staff, the report says. The results also reflect input from more than 200 online interviews with AGA members who indicated that they work for the federal government.