It was mid-March just a few months ago and the global Covid-19 pandemic was in its early days in the US. The applications process for the 18th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor (GovCon) Awards was about to be kicked off and questions were asked, understandably, about how to shape this year’s awards program. Will the contracting community respond? Should we even proceed? What might the awards program even look and feel like in November? Will we gather 950 people in a room at the Ritz in Tysons this fall?
Once coined the Academy Awards of Government Contracting, we ultimately decided that there is perhaps no better time to proceed with the awards program, acknowledging uncertainty in going forward. Since 2002 the Northern Virginia Chamber, in partnership with the Professional Services Council, has payed tribute to the “best of the best” in the government contracting industry in the DC Region.
Today the GovCon Awards are supported by over 40 committed sponsors who hail from across the community, including bankers, accountants, attorneys, real estate professionals, investment advisors and insurance executives from across the area. These individuals coalesce annually around a common commitment to shine a light on an industry dedicated to keeping us safe, supporting the military, and operating our government on behalf of its citizens. A new 2020 mission statement was drafted. It includes the following:
“…by continuing the awards process we will be showing responsible leadership to convene, either in person or perhaps virtually, this vital industry to pay homage to its importance to our society and economy.”
Spring forward 100 days, through the commitment of our applications committee, led by Jamie Graham of Kipps DeSanto and Mandy Wheat of RSM, a record response of 130 applications were submitted! The applications committee spent most of the day this past Wednesday sifting through these applications (socially distanced using an online tool), with the goal of narrowing by about half, the number that will be forwarded on to our esteemed Judges Panel later this month. The Judges Panel determines the 5-6 finalists in each of the 7 categories and names our Public Sector Partner of the Year, votes on candidates for the Awards’ Hall of Fame, and selects a Program of the Year to highlight the impact of a particular contract on our society.
In reading through the applications submitted, I think all committee members are reminded of why we do this. Yes it keeps us close to the industry, its companies and executives, but more importantly it tells the story, application by application, of how these companies, large and small, contribute to making our government better. They are inspiring. Applications are more than about revenue and financial success. They speak to how companies add value to their customers and care for their professionals. They describe how each company and their employees give back to their communities through hours of service and hard earned dollars. Applications submitted for executives describe leadership, how companies shape their culture, how they personally give back in shaping their industry and communities, and how they paint a compelling vision for their organizations. Bottom line, this sometimes maligned industry, funded by our tax dollars, is mission oriented, focused on customer value, and driven by innovation and cutting edge thinking. We thank every applicant for taking the time to tell their stories.
We are excited but cautious as we move forward to the fall and what would normally be a boisterous awards event where finalists are honored and winners in each category are named. One way or another, we’ll find a way to thank our sponsors, promote our finalists and hear compelling remarks from our award winners. Hope to “see” you then.
Partner Grant Thornton LLP
Co-Chair, Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards