Government requests for proposals do not allow much time between the announcement and the date a response is due-typically less than 45 days. Working with the government requires organizations to balance expert resources for keeping people engaged but not overwhelmed, especially when they are needed most.
The government funding cycle begins with strategic planning and ends with program implementation, and the management of expert resources throughout this cycle directly impacts an organization’s success rate. Consequently, organizations that best understand their optimal resource mix will be best prepared to align themselves with governmental needs and to respond with the best, most cost-effective proposals.
Federal Procurement Calendar
Federal procurement drives contracting at all levels of government, from multi-national projects to smaller community projects. The following outline applies to most federal agencies during a normal fiscal year. These milestones will help you orient your business plans to the government’s schedule.
- The federal fiscal year begins October 1, three months before the start of the calendar year. For example, Fiscal Year 2014 (or FY14) began on October 1, 2013.
- Between October 1 and mid-January, agencies begin spending the funds previously authorized for the current fiscal year and begin preparing budget proposals for the following fiscal year.
- In late January or early February of each calendar year, the President submits his budget to Congress for the next fiscal year. For example, in February 2013, the President submitted the proposed budget for FY14.
- In February through April, Congress engages in a budget resolution process that specifies spending levels for all federal agencies.
- Between May and September, Congress appropriates funds for federal agencies and programs in a series of budget bills.
- Beginning in October, federal agencies release proposed guidelines describing priorities for and the process by which appropriated funds will be spent for each program. The public is invited to comment.
- In December to January, after a comment period (usually 60 to 90 days) the agencies begin to release final guidelines and then funding announcements and requests for proposals and applications.
- In normal budget years the peak period for publication of requests for proposals and applications is between February and May.
- Deadlines for submission of proposals/applications are usually from 30 to 90 days after publication of the announcement, so that due dates peak between March and July.
- The proposal review process usually is completed within another 60 to 90 days, so that funding awards can be made in time for programs or services to begin on October 1, the start of the federal fiscal year.