When Programs Grow, But Government Staff Shrinks

    Since 2017, the average number of federal agency employees per year has decreased by more than 33 percent. Yet the programs an agency’s remaining staff needs to juggle have, in many cases, increased by nearly the same amount. 3            

    As an extreme: One DoD agency currently has 470 proposals in play but a headcount of only 400 people. That translates to more than one entire proposal process on the shoulders of each employee—in addition to all other responsibilities. 5 

    At the state level, 75 percent of agencies report that increased program duties don’t come with increased headcount. 4

    The result? Inflation-era agency funds are stretched as thin as they’ve ever been—as are government employees. And at the same time, the Biden administration is charged with reducing government waste. 1

    How does an agency survive? Here are a few suggestions that could not only help you stay afloat but find your competitive swim once again:     


    Outsource to qualified former agency or contractor employees   

    It’s no secret that today, pricing professionals fluidly move from agency positions into contracting positions and vice versa. Many with experience in either or both sectors eventually become consultants, and these are the people who may be able to help you now. If you lack staff, instead of beating your head against the wall trying to get headcount, why not outsource agency-side Contracting Officer (CO) and cost/pricing duties using program dollars? 

    Take a cue from industry startups and commercial companies owned by private equity: They don’t want their company valuations to decrease by adding employees. A way around this is to outsource strategic and operational tasks to reputable consultants or freelancers. Usually, this is a program instead of an employee spend. 

    By following this formula, your number of federal agency employees per year doesn’t necessarily have to expand.     


    Amp training programs dedicated to skills cross-pollination 

    Nowhere is The Great Resignation more prevalent today than in government—and it may not be over yet. So to prepare for potential future government shrinkage, it’s wise to train your agency teams to be generalists in their professional positions instead of specialists. 

    Potentially, pricers can also cross-train to become estimators. Cost-analysis pros can learn pricing techniques. And COs can train to become mentors to your junior staff. 

    You may qualify for American Rescue Plan funds to finance your training programs. The plan is a new federal fund aimed at expanding investments in Federal, State, and Local workforce capabilities, along with those in the commercial sector. 

    Specifically, these dollars help deliver learning opportunities, expand your people’s career paths, and fund retention and hiring bonuses. 2


    Let technology manage content when government shrinks   

    If people keep leaving yet your content needs keep expanding, it could be time to rethink your approach to content management. 

    Undoubtedly, many of your staff’s activities center on corralling and maneuvering the massive amount of information your agency has to process daily. A content services platform—also known as an electronic content management system—can help. 

    The platforms go beyond managing paperwork. Content services enhance the active use of all digital assets, including documents, images, and video. Your people, their partners, and the constituents they serve can collaborate on content much more easily, quickly, and securely.

    Platforms such as Hyland, NewGen, and AODocs are specially designed for medium to large government agencies and your enterprise-level counterparts in industry. Conveniently, they all offer cloud-based versions. 7

    Here are just a few benefits:  

    • Streamline manual tagging processes to boost productivity  

    Right now, your people have to sort and tag an incredible volume of documents, images, and other assets to conduct search-related tasks. It takes time—time you don’t have with a shrinking government agency workforce.

    Modern content services systems include integrated AI that automatically tags items in large quantities, doing much more than humans can. The systems also take on administrative tasks like scanning and filing.   

    • Share content across agencies

    Right now, much of your content probably resides in legacy systems that aren’t integrated, making it tough to share among colleagues and citizens alike.  

    By connecting information, you can easily share it across your agency and others, as well as externally. Harmonize with existing systems and collect and disperse the most current content at all times.

    Save time by automating more of your proposal process 

    Used by many government agencies for proposal analysis, fact-finding, and negotiation, ProPricer Government Edition is an easy, intuitive software platform that calculates a vendor’s electronic model once and only once. 

    The software then stores that model for all future proposals, saving your costing and pricing staff days, if not weeks of data re-entry.

    ProPricer Government Edition’s database architecture lets you import an organized view of contractor proposal cost and pricing data every time. Then, modify proposal estimates and rates at the level of your choice, and compare multiple proposal versions to the original.

    Government Edition is fully compatible with ProPricer Contractor Edition, our sister product used by many government contractors. Since the two platforms use the same file formats and transfer protocols, you’ll experience no more formatting aberrations, dropped sections, or stray characters during proposal back and forth. Save your minimal staff even more time and headache. And bid a fond farewell to Excel.    



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    1. TaxVox Blog: Is the Government Growing or Shrinking? 
    2. White House Fact Sheet: White House Announces Over $40 Billion in American Rescue Plan Investments in Our Workforce—With More Coming
    3. Anchorage Daily News: Trump Starts Delivering on Vow to Shrink Government
    4. Government Technology: 11 Ways to Speed Up Government Procurement
    5. Global Contract Pricing Summit Panel: Agile Solutions During Uncertain Times 
    6. NextGov Article: Agencies Could Turn to Platforms That Help Employees Manage the Content Process  
    7. The ECM Consultant Blog: 9 Best Enterprise Content Management Systems for 2022



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