Friday, November 25, 2011

A New Way to Do Business with the Federal Government

As meeting, conference and event planners, it is always a challenge to find ways to work with the Federal Government. The newest strategy we have seen in requests for quotes has been for NO COST contracting. This means that the planner is required to recoup all of the costs incurred in planning the event, usually including the meeting site costs. This is done through registration, exhibitor, and sponsor fees. The challenge is to determine reasonableness in building a budget based on anticipated costs and projected income, including no charge to government employees. This is, of course, much easier when you have a meeting that will draw your anticipated number of attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors. Sometimes the government gives you a range of attendees, which is another challenge for budgeting.

I know the government agencies are looking for ways to save money, but we must caution ourselves, not to lose money in the process of contracting with the government. One of the recent bids we did required no more than a 10% profit to the contractor. In building a budget, that is easy to project, in reality I am not sure how that works.

We find this to be a new and interesting trend. We have seen it in the private sector for a long time, but now the government is engaging in this practice, without a full understanding of the consequences. When bidding, you don’t have a contract with a meeting site, an audio-visual vendor, a drayage company, or a caterer. This means that much of what you use to determine a registration fee to propose to the government is based on your experience and best guesses as you are projecting costs.

We will keep you posted on how this trend as we continue in our efforts to work with the Federal Government.

~ Linda Begbie • Executive Director, RDL enterprises