Wednesday, August 1, 2018

930Gov and the End of FY 2018

The 6th annual 930Gov Conference is coming August 28 at the Washington DC Convention Center.

930Gov has five technology-focused tracks, each important to every federal agency:

- Cyber and IT Security
- Records Management
- Government Customer Experience
- Knowledge, Information and Data Management
- IT Modernization

Mike Smoyer, President of the Digital Government Institute, which produces 930Gov, has a history of being involved with successful GovCon events going back to his days at National Trade Productions, producers of FOSE, and later, FedMicro, the mid-summer end-of-FY event that ran in the early and mid 1990s.

When Mike took over the Digital Government Institute in 2007, DGI was producing some very focused IT events for the GovCon market.

While DGI still does the single-tech focused events, each of which evolves as the technology evolves, he saw the need for that end-of-FY, DC-based multi-track tech focused event.

930Gov will attract somewhere around 1,200 federal technologists, most of whom are in charge of managing and deploying technologies in their respective agencies.

I have been recommending this event to my clients for four of the past five years, and I do so again this year. I could not recommend the event in year one because it had no track record. I told Mike that at the time, but I also told him I felt his instincts were correct in starting an end-of-FY event.

There is a simple reason for my annual recommendation: end-of-FY has always represented a significant spending spike and not all of the money available is queued into a pre-determined slot. While this is not the only reason for my recommendation, it is a major factor.

An equally important reason would be the networking and the ability to begin relationships with key feds and perhaps other contractors.

Since year two, my clients have been pleased with the results. While there are not tens of thousands of attenders, neither are there hundreds of exhibitors. The exhibitors are all tabletop, with no mega-booth dominating the show floor. This makes it a level playing field for the smaller companies in the exhibit hall.

With 1,200 or so attenders and fewer exhibitors, the likelihood of exhibitors getting face time with attenders is very real.

Two former and two current clients will be exhibiting and two other clients will be attending and I am looking forward to their feedback. One of these companies is back for at least their third year in a row.

I will be speaking at 930Gov, although not in one of the tech tracks. I will be addressing the importance of building and leveraging a subject matter expert position in the market, this in a conference where the speakers are subject matter experts and front line managers of  some key technologies.

I am very much looking forward to the 2018 version of 930Gov.

I hope to see you there and I welcome your feedback on the event.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What were they thinking?!?!?!

Let me start by picking a 16 year old scab. In 2002, PwC tried (briefly) to rename itself Monday.

This is not, repeat NOT, a joke.

The response was swift, merciless and came from all fronts: the business media, Wall Street, comedians, shareholders, employees and industry.

One of my favorite responses was this:

“The day of the week formerly known as Monday would like to announce its name change to distance itself from PWC Consulting. Forthwith it will be known as Tuesday Eve.”

They reverted to PwC before the following Monday... but it begs the question: What were they thinking?

Now comes the news that PwCs spinoff is named Guidehouse. (This actually happened in May, so I am a little behind.)

Wait- what? You mean Lighthouse?

No Guidehouse.

Maybe Brickhouse?

No Guidehouse.

Not outhouse?

No Guidehouse.

Safe House?

No Guidehouse.

Dog house?

No Guidehouse.

Doll house?

No Guidehouse.

OK, so what's a guidehouse?

I crack open my OED and look:

Guidebook- check.

Guided Imagery- check (ooo- I like that one).

Guidepost- check (I like that one, too).

Guide rope- check.

Guideway - check.

Guidehouse? Nothing.

In PwCs defense, it does not own Guidehouse. Veritas Capital owns Guidehouse. The new website explains the name as "leading the way forward" and "looking into tomorrow through an innovative lens that challenges the now."

OK, a sherpa with a crystal ball. I'm beginning to see it.

The Washington Technology article quotes the CEO of Guidehouse as saying the name is a "metaphor for Guidehouse staffers being a trusted partner to help agencies navigate their changing landscapes regarding budget, technology and strategy."

A metaphor? Guidehouse means all that? Really?

But what's in a name? Perhaps another name that launched a thousand jokes...

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Why the 2018 Federal Government Contractor Study is Essential for Small Contractors

This past Tuesday I attended the briefing for Market Connection's latest study, 2018 The Federal Government Contractor Study. The study was co-sponsored by the Professional Services Council and the Merritt Group .

The goals of the study included

- identifying best practices of winning government contractors
- identifying the challenges of marketing and business development professionals
- determining how marketing and BD are organized and how they work together
- measure the effectiveness of marketing materials, activities and tools
- determine strategies used when targeting and responding to RFPs
- and to quantify changes in personnel, budget, tools, teaming partners and communications.

I am not going to do a deep dive here. Instead I will highlight what I consider to be some key points for small contractors, the areas you must pay attention to in order to succeed. I strongly urge you to download the study overview and review it with your staff.

On page nine (9), the first page of the findings, there is the list of Organization Capability Ratings, which include:

- demonstrating thought leadership and subject matter expertise
- government customer relationship management
- readiness to adjust to changing government acquisition strategies
- differentiating from the competition
- capturing and managing customer, prospect and contract data
- overall marketing investment
- providing the sales organization with marketing support
- lead generation
- tactical business development/sales efforts
- and moving leads and prospects through the sales funnel.

I have highlighted three areas above as critical for small contractors. Small contractors have fewer resources than larger firms, and while each of the above is important, the three I highlighted can provide the most traction for smaller firms in a shorter period of time.

Thought leadership/subject matter expertise (SME): I have been preaching this sermon for years, and it remains perhaps the most critical issue for small biz: highlight your main area of expertise and develop it it fully. Work hard to be at or near the top of whatever that niche is.

Defining and defending that area of expertise should be job one. Job two is making certain you share this SME status in the major places people will vet you: your company web site and your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn.

Differentiation: is part of the SME platform development. There are many ways to differentiate your company from the competition, including:

- unique process or technology
- staff has higher level certifications/training
- company possesses cert levels not held by many (CMMI Level 3, etc)
- higher level of service (aside from lip service)
- specialization in a horizontal area (finance, transportation, supply chain, etc)
- specializing is one agency
- and many more.

You can further differentiate by combining two or more of these. Defined and used well, your differentiators can help you win more business sooner.

"Differentiation beyond price" is a recurrent theme in this study

Tactical business development and sales efforts: contractors with fewer resources need to focus on activities that get traction quickly. These efforts need to focus on your core talent, the SME areas where you have the best chance for near-term growth.

I address these and other areas in my small contractor advisory program for 2018-2019.

There are many facets of this study I have not addressed that are equally important. I will be writing and speaking about over the next few months.

If you'd like to discuss my Small Business Advisory Program email me at or reserve time on my calendar:

I'd also be interested in your take-aways after you read the study preview. What stood out for you?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Small Contractor Alert: Networking and Education July 26 at the AFCEA Small Business Innovation Summit

The upcoming July 26 AFCEA Small Business Innovation Summit follows on the heels of the AFCEA Innovation Shark Tank, where small contractors competed for the right to present at the Innovation Summit. The three winners from these events are on the agenda of the Summit.

The Small Business Innovation Summit will address cutting edge technologies where small contractors can play a big role: AI, Zero Trust Networks, Agile DevOps, Blockchain, the Space Revolution, and 5G. The presenters on these panels are among the most experienced techies from industry and government.

There will also be panels on OTAs (contracts for Research and Development) and a panel for communicating your company’s unique value. The communication panel is moderated by my friend, the wise and wonderful Sarah Djamshidi, a true veteran of the small business IT trenches. I have been invited to participate on this panel.

This Small Business Innovation Summit can help a small business identify growth areas and map out a go-to-market strategy. It affords you the opportunity to network with peers and to meet market influencers.

I look forward to each speaking engagement and try to prepare my remarks based on the expected audience.

There are many issues facing small businesses in this market and any time I get to help companies make small (or large) strategy adjustments, I feel like I am doing my part.

AFCEA conferences are my favorites, especially those focused on small business. They always have an engaged audience, eager to brain-pick, network and absorb info from some great presenters.

I will also be attending the Market Connections Federal Contractor Study overview on July 17; speaking at the Government Blockchain Association event July 19; and on August 28 I will be speaking at 930Gov, the best end-of-FY conference now in year 6!

Each of these events affords opportunities for any contractor, especially for small contractors.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Recognition for GovCon marketing professionals: The GAINER awards

In the government market there have been lots of awards for as long as I can remember.

But there has never been anything specific for the B2G marketing professional.

Until now.

Government Marketing University has launched the GAINER Awards to recognize excellence in public sector marketing.

This is long past due and I am honored to be among those reviewing the nominees. Joining me on the Selection Committee are GovCon veterans Steve Cooper, Martha Dorris, Kimberly Hancher and Ann-Marie Clark.

Know a marketing program that should be considered, or have you created one yourself? Nominate it! 

There are five categories: ABM, Events, Partner Marketing, Protege (yes, one for newbies!) and Innovation.


  • Must have executed the marketing program between April 1, 2017 thru June 1, 2018
  • Applicants (individual, companies or agencies) may enter multiple submissions in one or more award categories.
  • Award winners must be willing to share marketing case study at GAIN conference on November 1, 2018.
  • Entries are for those projects which are targeting US federal, state and local governments along with public and private educational institutions.
  • Entries close August 1, 2018.
For more information, contact Ann-Marie Clark at or 703-625-5224.
And just like the lottery- you gotta play (nominate) to win!
The awards will be presented at GMarkU's annual GAIN Conference November 1 at the Hyatt Regency, Reston.
I hope to see you at the conference and I'd like to see your nomination very soon!

Friday, June 22, 2018

2018-2019 Small GovCon Advisory Program

Amtower Small Biz GovCon Advisory Program 

(Special: August and Sept 2019 are included at no extra cost)

Do you want deeper and better connections with your government clients and prospects?

Do you need better relationships with system integrators (SIs)?

Do you want more traction from your contracts?

Does your limited networking time pay dividends?

Do you want better traction in FY 2019?

End of FY 2018 is rapidly approaching and it should be a hot one with lots of budget money coming into play late in the FY again this year. SmartPay (yes, even the government charge card) and MACs will play a big role.

And it looks like FY 2019 will be another challenging year: probably another continuing resolution, possible shutdown, further changes in agency programs and policies, senior personnel, additional changes in procurement policy, and more.

All these will impact small businesses in a big way, so you must be prepared.

Leveraging your current contracts, especially direct or indirect access to MACs, IDIQs and GWACs can help you weather this storm. Many (including me) expect agency use of IDIQs and GWACs to continue to grow into FY 2019. Your access as a prime or partner on these contracts can be critical. Look for growth on SEWP, Alliant, OASIS, and other MACs and GWACs, as well as portions of the GSA Schedule. 

If your company is not performing up to your expectations, or if you feel that your strategy is not paying adequate dividends, we should talk.

My guidance has helped hundreds of companies grow and earn billions. My advice can save you time and money, lead to new opportunities, identify key differentiators leading to significant market share, create media coverage, and generally help companies establish a more viable and visible presence in the government market. For over thirty years I have helped my clients to dramatically increase the dollar value of their contracts, often spending less on marketing.

If your marketing and business development efforts are not paying significant dividends, we should talk now.

I offer a year-long Small Biz GovCon Advisory Program. Rather than charge an hourly fee to companies tapping into my expertise on a semi-regular basis, I have created an advisory program that small companies can afford.

This program is only for businesses recognized as small by SBA standards: SDB, WOSB, VOSB, SDVOSB, 8(a), HubZone, etc.

The Amtower GovCon Advisory Program includes

                 An initial planning session to define realistic goals for our engagement. This will provide the overall program guidance for the year, including development of a targeted visibility plan that makes the most sense for you and your company. We can make alterations along the way as necessary; 

           - A detailed web site review with recommendations;

              -  A LinkedIn company profile review with recommendations and edits;

               -  Monthly training sessions (30-45 minute sessions), content to be determined in the planning session. Training modules offered include LinkedIn training; content development; developing a subject matter expert platform; social selling; PR/media training; market research and more. Each session tailored to the client and all sessions pre-scheduled;

              - Email alerts with news about your niche, competitors and other topics addressed in the planning session. I will monitor Google Alerts and selected trade publications for each participant;

            - Bi-weekly calls to track your progress, address problem areas, discuss opportunities and more;

             - Strategic introductions to primes, OEMs, various market experts, media and government managers;

              - Unlimited email and short call Q&A;

             - Advice on selecting outside services (events, associations, bidding services, proposal assistance, etc).

       - Access to me for an entire FY.

Please call 301 854 9493 or email with any questions or to sign up. 

I can only accept twelve participants.

The investment for this program is $2,495 down, and $995 per month for an annual total of $13,040.

   (Special: August and Sept 2019 are included at no extra cost)

Mark Amtower     Amtower & Company

Monday, April 2, 2018

2018 Federal Census for LinkedIn- Over 2 million DOD and Civilian members

These are the results of my 2018 Federal Census for federal membership on LinkedIn: 2,023,430 civilian and DOD (including uniformed services) members on LinkedIn.

A couple of caveats: 

1) I have probably overlooked some sub-agency level activities, often because I could not find them; 
2) I have included some non-executive branch activities (LOC and GAO);
3) There is liable to be some contractors in these counts. 
4) I will update this list as I identify omissions.
5) Sorry about the alignment. This is cut and paste from Word.

DOD and Military Agency counts on LinkedIn

DOD & Military
US Army HQ                                                 384,866
          Army Natl Guard                                    41,957
          US Army Reserve                                   17,172
          Network Enterprise Tech Cmmd              7,658
          Corps of Engineers                                 20,699
          Army Research Lab                                    516
          USA Natick Soldier Research                 1,965
          USA ERDC                                                365
          USA CERDEC                                            47
          Army Rapid Capabilities                             24
          USA Acq Support Ctr                                 77
          USA Contracting Command                  3,525
          USA Cyber Command                              285
          Army Special Forces (Airborne)               830
Total for US Army:                                     479,986

US Air Force HQ                                        216,304
          Air Natl Guard                                       6,299
          USAF Reserve                                     14,650
          Air National Guard Recruiting`             6,301
          USAF Research Lab                              2,009
          USAF Space Command                        1,272
          USAF Special Ops Cmmd                      372
          AF Ofc of Special Investigations            383
Total for USAF:                                        241,291

US Navy HQ                                             191,654
          USN Reserve                                     12,285
          NAVSEA                                             3,526
          NAVAIR                                              2,691
          SPAWAR                                            4,315
          Ofc of Naval Research                          426
          Ofc of Naval Intel                                   85
          Naval Surface Warfare Ctr                1,517
          Naval Surface Warfare Ctr (MD)         603
          Naval Surface Warfare Ctr (Phil)         224
          NAWCAD                                            649
Total for USN:                                        217,981

Marine Corps                                           25,039

US DoD HQ                                              48,814
          USSOCOM                                       1,696
          JSOC                                                      64
          DTRA                                                1,225 
          DLA                                                  6,543
          DCMA                                              5,460
          DIA                                                   2,750
          DCAA                                               2,363                   
          DAU                                                    755
          DFAS                                                6,813         
          Missile Def Agency                         1,357
          National Guard Bureau                    1,863         
          DHA                                                   622
          Tricare                                                460
          Wash HQ Svcs                                   328
          Natl Geospatial-Intelligence Agcy  2,250
          NSA                                                  1,040
          DARPA                                              458
          Am Battle Monuments Comm           105
          Ofc of Chairman, JCS                        240
          JCS Staff                                              76
          DoDEA                                             2,149
Total for DOD:                                        84,996

DOD AND UNIFORMED SERVICES TOTAL                 1,055,993

USDA HQ                                                  17,933
          NRCS                                                4,243
          FS                                                     17,103       
          ARS                                                  5,153
          APHIS                                              1,681
          FSIS                                                  2,288         
          FAS                                                     322
          Natl Inst of Food & Ag                       200
          AMS                                                   102
          NAL                                                     25
USDA total:                                              49,050

CIA                                                             90

Commerce HQ                                           2,577
          NOAA                                               5,834
          Census                                               6,668
          BEA                                                     358
          ITA                                                   1,379
          NTIS                                                      11
          NTIA                                                   186
          EDA                                                     251
          MBDA                                                   82
          NIST                                                 3,591
Total for Commerce:                               20,937

Corp for Natl & Community Svc              680
CPSC                                                          336
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau    1,388

Education                                                  10,995

EEOC                                                         1,406

Energy HQ                                               5,073
          Bonneville                                        2,192         
          Sandia                                               7,605
          Berkeley                                           3,728
          Oak Ridge                                        3,636
          Argonne                                            3,613
          Los Alamos                                      7,563
          Pacific NW                                       3,653
          Idaho National Lab                          1,623
          National Renewable Energy Lab     2,157         
          Western Area Power Admin            827
          National Nuclear Security Admin   671
          Oak Ridge National Laboratory      3,640
Total for Energy:                                     45,981

EPA                                                            11,108
Exec Office of the President                          245
          EOP/White House                               120
          Natl Security Council                           96
          US Digital Service                              148
Ex-Im Bank                                                   522
Farm Credit Admin                                       255
FDIC                                                          5,210
FEC                                                               288
FERC                                                         1,241
FLRA                                                           115
Fed Mine Safety                                            49
FRB                                                            2,060
GAO*                                                         21,898
GSA                                                           11,431
HHS HQ                                                   10,802
          NIH                                                    21,600
          NCI                                                   3,684
          CDC                                                 14,879
         FDA                                                  13,772       
          CMS                                                 3,194
          HRSA                                               1,068
          SAMHSA                                         315
          Ag for Healthcare Research             395
          NIMH                                               651
          NIDA                                                255
          Admin for Community Living           45
          IHS                                                   4,797
Total for HHS:                                         75,389

Homeland Security HQ                           32,636
          ICE                                                     1,660
          FEMA                                              11,802
          US Coast Guard                               24,206
          CBP                                                   6 ,917
          TSA                                                  11,171
          US Secret Service                              1,314
          FLETC                                                  105
Total for DHS:                                          89,811

HUD                                                          6,333

Interior HQ                                              3,075
          FWS                                                  5,046
          NPS                                                   10,674
          BLM                                                 5,478
          USGS                                                6,372
          BIA                                                   1,530
          Reclamation                                     2,933
          Ocean Energy Mgmt                        344
Total for Interior:                                    35,452

International Trade Commission              345
Justice HQ                                               15,984
          BOP                                                  1,017
          Criminal Div                                    1,103
          US Attorneys Ofc                             4,951
          US Marshall’s Service                     177
          DEA                                                  1,902
          FBI                                                    7,702
          ATF                                                   1,664          
Total for Justice:                                     34,500

Labor HQ                                                 7,151
          BLS                                                  1,792
Total for Labor:                                       8,943

Library of Congress*                                 3,169
NARA                                                        797

NASA HQ                                                 31,891
          Ames                                                2,439
          Goddard                                            4,002
          Glenn                                                1,539
          JPL                                                   6,172
          Langley                                            1,565
Total for NASA:                                       47,608

National Gallery of Art                             838
NEA                                                            174
NEH                                                           128
NRC                                                           2,355
NTSB                                                         334
Office of Govt Ethics                                43
OMB                                                          501
OPIC                                                          559
OPM                                                           3,403
Peace Corps                                               9,210
PBGC                                                         962
US Postal Service                                      142,150
USPS OIG                                                  5,381
Railroad Retirement Board                       558
SBA                                                            3,665
SEC                                                            3,625
Smithsonian                                               4,146
SSA                                                            37,267

State Department                                     28,336

TVA                                                           8,697
US Trade Rep                                            117

Transportation HQ                                 3,950
          FAA                                                  27,340       
          FHA                                                  1,880
          FTA                                                  361
          FRA                                                  526
          FHWA National Highway Inst        179
Total for Transportation:                       34,236

Treasury HQ                                            8,898
          BEP                                                  730
          IRS                                                    25,416
          OCC                                                  3,030
          Mint                                                  541
Total for Treasury:                                  38,615

USAID                                                       12,378

Veterans Affairs                                       102,149

VOA                                                           1,728
CIVILIAN AGENCY TOTAL                929,314

Misc listed as “US Government”  (1)      33,023

Misc listed as "US Govt"                            5,100
Estimated total             2,023,340

  1. The miscellaneous "US government" listing has been used by government employees for well over 10 years.  It was used prior to 2010 because there was no Federal endorsement or policy for using social media, so employees did not want to name their respective agencies. It is also used by those in the IC to mask their agencies.
Copyright 2018, Mark Amtower