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Behind HX5’s Success: Margarita Howard’s Proven Strategies for Government Contracts

HX5, led by Margarita Howard, a service-disabled veteran with Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts degrees, stands out in government contracting. Operating across 34 states and 90 government locations, the company is headquartered in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and employs a robust workforce of over 1,000 professionals. HX5 has made significant strides in securing substantial government contracts while showcasing its prowess and strategic capabilities in the competitive government contracting sector.

Howard’s approach to securing government contracts centers on a thorough understanding of client needs, strict adherence to procurement regulations, and a steadfast commitment to fulfilling project requirements. As the sole owner and CEO/president of HX5, Howard follows a detailed multistep process that carefully examines solicitation documents to grasp client expectations and evaluation criteria. Her knowledge of government contracting complexities deeply informs her actions. Howard distinguishes her business by clearly showcasing its unique capabilities and value propositions.

Understanding the client’s detailed requirements and regulatory environment is pivotal. Margarita Howard says, “To excel in government contracting, it is imperative to understand this marketplace’s unique characteristics and intricacies. Government agencies at federal, state, and local levels have diverse needs and requirements, which can vary significantly across industries and regions.”

Allocating resources such as staffing and budgets when preparing bids for government contracts is extremely vital. “First and foremost, we thoroughly review the proposal specifications and requirements, the scope of work that is identified in the proposal, and all deliverables and timelines that are defined,” she says.

Howard continues, “To be a successful government contractor, you have to invest time in researching and understanding your target market. You need to analyze government procurement trends, identify key decision-makers within agencies, and track upcoming opportunities through government procurement websites.”

Remember, she notes, to emphasize the importance of strategic networking with key stakeholders, including government officials and other prime contractors. “Building strong relationships with government agencies is an invaluable asset for successful government contractors as it can serve to provide the contractor with positive performance appraisals and sometimes even lead to new or additional business,” says Howard.

Government contracting is a dynamic field where successful companies encourage continuous learning and are adaptable because staying updated on new regulations, technology, and market trends is essential.

“Winning and performing on government contracts requires dealing with complex regulations, compliance requirements, and lengthy procurement timelines,” says Margarita Howard. “HX5 has had to invest heavily in time and money to navigate the complexities of these regulations and compliance requirements and have on many occasions had to hire legal or regulatory experts to assist in understanding and ensuring we’re always in adherence.”

That’s because comprehensive proposals that comply with all requirements stand out from the competition. “Once we’ve identified a relevant opportunity, we must carefully review the solicitation documents to understand the requirements and evaluation criteria. We then have to prepare a comprehensive bid that addresses all the specified requirements and demonstrates our ability to perform the work successfully at competitive prices,” Howard explains. “It’s also absolutely necessary to ensure you submit your bid before the deadline and follow all instructions provided in the solicitation.”

What happens next? “If you are successful, then you have to ensure you perform the work successfully in order to be considered for future work,” says Margarita Howard. “Once HX5 has been awarded a prime contract, it’s crucial to stay compliant with all contractual requirements, regulations, and reporting obligations, and we ensure we have the best teams in place to do this.”

Howard and her team welcome input on the company’s performance. “One thing we do, whether we win or lose a contract competition, is seek feedback from the contracting officer to understand how we can improve our proposals and increase our competitiveness in future opportunities,” says Howard. “We try to continuously assess our performance, refine our strategies, and invest in professional development education so our employees are able to always stay ahead in performance.”

History of Government Contracting

As a formal business practice, government contracting can be traced back to the American Revolutionary War, when the Continental Congress sought goods and services from private citizens to support war efforts. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century, particularly during and after World War II, that government contracting emerged as a structured practice integral to federal operations. The significant increase in demand for military equipment and services during the war periods established the foundational processes for what would evolve into today’s government procurement system.

Margarita Howard on Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Program

The HX5 team, possessing extensive experience and qualifications, supports operations for federal entities, focusing mainly on the Department of Defense and NASA. The company’s array of projects spans research and development, engineering, information technology, and support for mission operations.

Margarita Howard participated in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, a nine-year training program that offers mentorship and support services to business owners who are socially and economically disadvantaged. “After becoming an 8(a) company, we were awarded very quickly four contracts in one year and that really helped in getting us off the ground,” she recalls.

Howard offers this advice to anyone interested in the program, “Familiarize [yourself] with the eligibility requirements for the 8(a) program. When HX5 applied to the program, an applicant’s business had to be at least 51% owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual who is a U.S. citizen. Additionally, you had to ensure your business was able to clearly demonstrate to the SBA your potential for success,” she says.

“I believe those requirements are still in play, but anyone looking to join the program always needs to ensure they are following the most recent SBA regulations for 8(a) applicants that are in place at the time they decide to submit their applications. The applicant needs to be prepared to thoroughly demonstrate how their business meets the current eligibility criteria and must be able to showcase its potential for success while providing all the necessary documentation and information requested by the SBA.”

Building relationships is important. “The firm should focus on using the past performance and relationships developed during the 8(a) program to its advantage,” says Margarita Howard. “The graduated firm should build a portfolio that highlights the firm’s track record of success while in the program, showing examples of customer satisfaction and high-scoring past performance evaluations, and use it to market to the government and companies where subcontracting opportunities may present themselves.”