The prospect of sequestration triggering heavy federal budget cuts next year was on the minds of many Maryland business executives, real estate specialists and government officials during a conference Monday.
But there were other concerns raised, too, such as the duplication of federal contract bids that can cause confusion, during the daylong meeting at the Silver Spring Civic Building. The conference was sponsored by the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and Bisnow Media.
“We need a reconciliation of the sequestration issue so people can better plan their budgets, bids and proposed contracts,” said Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement and former acting deputy chief acquisition officer for the General Services Administration. The Washington, D.C., trade association represents commercial contractors in the federal market.
The market for federal contractors still is “enormous,” with the government issuing contracts totaling about $708 billion in fiscal 2013, said Ray Bjorklund, chief knowledge officer of Herndon, Va., research firm Deltek. That is about an 8 percent decline from the 2012 budget, he said.
The federal Budget Control Act of 2011 detailed initial cost reductions of almost $1 trillion during the next decade designed to offset debt ceiling increases of as much as $2.1 trillion. Further cuts could push the total well above $1 trillion. A bipartisan “super committee” that was authorized to specify the reductions failed to do so last year, and across-the-board cuts will begin Jan. 2 if Congress does not act.
The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda will face an 8.2 percent budget reduction, or a cut of some $2.5 billion, according to a recent report from the federal Office of Management and Budget.
Paul Davis Restoration, a remodeling business with offices in Gaithersburg and other cities, does not contract with the federal government but wants to pursue that, said Dave Schramm, director of government sales and special projects. That’s a key reason he attended Monday’s gathering.
“This is a good conference to attend to learn more,” Schramm said.
The GSA is doing as much as it can to ensure that it gets the best value in contracts, said Mary Davie, acting commissioner of the GSA Federal Acquisition Service.
“We’re talking to agencies and companies more about how to obtain better cost savings,” Davie said.
The federal government often wants to consolidate offices and sell property, but that process can be difficult because multiple parties can be involved in the land deal, including politicians who want to keep the property under federal control, said Daniel Werfel, controller of the Office of Management and Budget.
“It can be a long, drawn-out process,” Werfel said.