Alan Chvotkin, partner at Nichols Liu LLP and a key member of Executive Mosaic’s GovCon Expert program, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the results of the Government Contractor Confidence Index study he recently co-wrote and the current set of growth initiatives for Nichols Liu to drive value for its customers.
In addition, GovCon Expert Alan Chvotkin discussed the acquisition regulations and rules as well as the policy changes that the federal agencies and GovCon industries have undergone to accelerate for the rest of 2022 during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
“Overall, I thought the results of the survey were extremely positive and useful. My sincere compliments to my co-writer Russell Smith and to OCI Proposal Consultants for conceiving and executing the ‘Government Contractor Confidence Index’ study. I think it shows the continued strength of the federal marketplace and that the confidence by the contractors makes this a good marketplace for business.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Alan Chvotkin below:
ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about Nichols Liu’s recent growth initiatives and how you’re driving value for your customers? What are your strategic goals for the coming year and any new markets that you’re keeping an eye on in the federal sector?
Alan Chvotkin: “Nichols Liu is still a young firm; it was established in 2017. We’re a boutique firm focused on government contracts with a lot of expertise around bid protests, False Claims Act litigation, and compliance matters.
The firm is growing rapidly. We’ve been recognized by many of the leading legal publications for the expertise of the firm, as well as many of our individual lawyers. I joined the firm in January 2021 to help expand the firm’s work assisting new and existing clients navigate through the federal marketplace.
Several of our clients have come to us as they’re breaking into the federal marketplace. A large number of our clients already have a federal footprint but they are trying to expand that footprint.
My focus has been on helping businesses shape their contract portfolios, including finding new business opportunities and sometimes shedding work that’s no longer profitable.
In addition, Nichols Liu is expanding our role in cybersecurity, especially around compliance efforts for our clients. For companies that already have some of those capabilities, we are keeping them up to date on the regulatory changes, such as DoD’s CMMC program, including the evolution from the first version of CMMC to now CMMC 2.0.
We’re also expanding our work around mergers and acquisitions. These are core areas where a lot of companies profess to have more expertise than they actually do. There’s already a lot of activity in the M&A market and it’s growing significantly. Many of the larger IDIQ information technology contracts are also growing both in size and complexity. It’s a huge challenge and opportunity to help these companies sort through all of that from a strategic business approach.”
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on co-writing with Russell Smith of OCI Proposal Consultants and releasing the “Government Contractor Confidence Index” study! What can you tell us about the results on the confidence in the federal market and the top priorities for government contractors in cyber, infrastructure and emerging technologies?
Alan Chvotkin: “We distributed the study to over 5,600 company contacts in firms of all sizes and markets. About 65 percent of the responses were from the DC metropolitan area but with good representatives from firms across other major cities.
Our contacts were targeted at the business development and capture levels. Rather than go to the CEO levels, we focused on the people on the frontlines responsible for chasing and capturing business. That was a unique aspect of our survey.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that essentially two thirds of the respondents were confident in the federal marketplace heading into 2022. That’s very rewarding because it shows that, if you’re in the federal marketplace, it can be a good place to do business.
We know that federal contract spending was down a little in 2021 for a variety of reasons, but a very strong result from the survey was there is a ton of confidence from the front-line respondents that, if you have quality products and services, and a quality proposal effort, you can compete and win.
What wasn’t a surprise from the survey is that respondents identified cybersecurity as one of the key growth areas for federal spending. The federal government continues to spend billions to enhance its own cyber capabilities. Over the last couple of years, government agencies have been funding cyber through their regular IT budgets, but that’s no longer an option.
Cyber isn’t an ‘add-on’ anymore; it’s now a core programmatic response in addition to whatever enhancements they’re doing. Growth in cloud computing or big data and cyber protection is also being built into those capabilities. I’m less worried about seeing huge dollars being added just for cyber because I know that cyber is still a growing component of federal spending.
There’s also a good news story related to likely spending growth on big data, on infrastructure, and in DoD’s operations and maintenance budgets.
Overall, I thought the results of the survey were extremely positive and useful. My sincere compliments to my co-writer Russell Smith and to OCI Proposal Consultants for conceiving and executing the ‘Government Contractor Confidence Index’ study. I think it shows the continued strength of the federal marketplace and that the confidence by the contractors makes this a good marketplace for business.”
ExecutiveBiz: During a recent GovCon Expert feature, you discussed the acquisition regulations and rules and policy changes that the federal agencies and GovCon industries have undergone. How will the pace of policy changes in acquisition regulations continue to accelerate for the rest of 2022 and beyond? What improvements do we need to make?
Alan Chvotkin: “I’m expecting the federal sector to have a heightened level of regulatory activity around the acquisition process in 2022. Many of President Biden’s executive orders from 2021 have a contracting regulatory component to them and I’m expecting those will be issued later this year. We’re already seeing that activity in some of the Department of Labor rules on employee minimum wage and even still around COVID vaccinations.
Whenever federal agencies are implementing new regulations, they’re doing a much better job of providing extensive supplemental information explaining why they’ve taken or not taken some regulatory action. If the public and the courts look at that regulatory history, I’m confident that this additional information would be extremely helpful to them.
I do have some concerns about the extent of regulatory mandates that are not in the contracts or in the acquisition regulations. I’m thinking about things like the COVID mandate creating a ‘safe workplace.’
I’m not a fan of requiring contractors to look at a government website for constantly changing requirements or to search for agency class deviations to the acquisition regulations, many of which are still not readily available to the public.”