Getting into Government
Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM,
By Michael Goldman
Last year around this time, SVC brought you an exclusive behind-the-scenes story of the audio upgrade project done at the U.S. Senate Chamber. It was a particularly challenging project given the historic nature and security considerations of the facility. This issue, SVC takes a look at another AV upgrade inside a historic government facility. This time, it’s at the King Hall meeting and dining facility at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Once again, as Dan Daley’s article details on p. 66, the work was performed inside a historic building with significant architectural roadblocks. Central to the success of the job was the fact that Baltimore’s RTKL functioned as both the architecture/engineering and design lead on the project. For jobs involving government institutions, being able to handle multiple disciplines under a single roof is one of several factors that can make such companies attractive to government clients.
According to officials at RTKL and others I’ve talked to around the industry, government jobs are indeed different creatures than jobs in other market segments — particularly in terms of bidding, budgeting, staffing, security, and lines of communication. Therefore, being multidisciplined is one of several factors to consider when seeking government work. Other factors include:
- The fact that many large federal jobs are frequently contracted through the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). Thus, companies with GSA connections have a leg up, and long-term relationships and networking are even more important in the government sector than in other sectors.
- Expertise in performing work within the context of a degraded infrastructure is helpful. Many of these jobs, as the U.S. Senate project and the Naval Academy project illustrate, involve historic buildings with great limitations being part of the deal.
- Understanding the culture, history, and mission of the government agency you are dealing with is useful, particularly considering the strict security and protocols for scheduling a meeting that come with military projects. Even paying attention to the institution’s dress code for such meetings can potentially make a big difference.
Those are just a few factors that make government work unusually challenging. And yet, as the installations profiled in this issue illustrate, some of the industry’s most innovative work is being done in this sector. After all, these projects frequently live longer lives than other types of installations — often in routinely used, high-profile venues — and companies are under tremendous pressure to get it right. Hopefully, you find the windows we provide into the details of some of these high-profile jobs useful.