SEWP still selling through the shutdown

Editorial credit: Mark Van Scyoc /

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. (Photo credit: Mark Van Scyoc/

NASA is operating without a congressional appropriation, but its key governmentwide acquisition vehicle is navigating the shutdown so far.

Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement contract is fee funded, like other governmentwide procurement contracts, but it can't outlast a prolonged shutdown.

Program Manager Joanne Woytek said SEWP is "operating at almost normal capacity." The vehicle's main federal customers, the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs, are fully funded and continue to buy with SEWP, Woytek told FCW in an email.

The shutdown comes at a traditionally slow time in the federal procurement calendar, following the typical frenzy of end-of-fiscal-year purchasing in the late summer and early fall. The low activity makes it difficult to gauge the overall usage impact of the post-Christmas shutdown, Woytek told FCW.

SEWP also has a contingency fund to weather "unexpected budget disruptions for a short period of time," she said, which is aimed at covering three months of operations without any additional funding.

SEWP's primary contract is 95 percent staffed currently, Woytek said. She did not provide staffing numbers, but the contract saw bustling activity over the summer as the busiest season of buying ended. SEWP brought on 20 new staffers over the last year to help handle increasing sales volumes, she said.

Woytek said she doesn't see any effects for SEWP in the immediate or short-term timeframe. If the shutdown lasts for months, however, things could be different.

President Donald Trump has said the federal government's partial shuttering could last months or possibly years if the fight with Congress over more funding to build a wall on the southern U.S. border isn't settled. The current shutdown, now in its third week, will become the longest running federal closure if it runs past Jan. 12, when it passes the 21-day shutdown that began on Dec. 15, 1995.

"No orders are anticipated to be coming from any agency without funding," she said. "So clearly at some point if the shutdown continues, we will see fewer orders and, unless purchasing increases from the open agencies, overall dollar amounts will decrease."

Even so, many of the effects of a prolonged shutdown won't be laid bare until later in the fiscal year, she said. "This is the time of the year when market research and planning occurs.  Summer is when most purchasing occurs."

The shutdown might create an even busier summer buying season as newly funded agencies race to catch up with purchasing for their core missions before the fall, Woytek said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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