How Margarita Howard at HX5 Navigates the High-Stakes World of Bidding for Government Contracts

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Margarita Howard is the sole owner and CEO/president of HX5. Her leadership exemplifies how a potent combination of strategic foresight, detailed industry knowledge

President Joe Biden enacted the fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act in December 2023. This legislation aims to streamline the Department of Defense’s procurement processes, enhance the defense supply chain, bolster national security, and expand the use of artificial intelligence to refine data analysis. Government contractors must stay informed about these changes to navigate the evolving DOD acquisition environment effectively. A solid grasp of how the government can procure its services and products is crucial for winning contracts and speeding up the procurement process.

Margarita Howard is the sole owner and CEO/president of HX5. Her leadership exemplifies how a potent combination of strategic foresight, detailed industry knowledge, and relentless dedication can lead to sustained success in the competitive field of government contracting.

Navigating the high-stakes world of bidding for government contracts requires more than just business acumen — it demands a comprehensive plan encompassing an understanding of the market, cultivating relationships, and constantly adapting to new regulations and technologies. Under Howard’s stewardship, HX5, a provider of professional mission support services to esteemed agencies like NASA and the DOD, is setting a benchmark for excellence and innovation in the industry.

At the heart of HX5’s blueprint lies a profound comprehension of the government contracting landscape, governed by rigorous compliance requirements and fierce rivalries. The process is a multifaceted endeavor, encompassing identifying potential contracts, understanding detailed requirements, and crafting compelling proposals showcasing HX5’s unique capabilities and competitive pricing.

“Obtaining prime government contracts is often a complex and time-consuming process,” Howard says. She emphasizes the importance of aligning with the government’s detailed needs and regulatory frameworks, achieved through a thorough analysis of solicitation documents and a strategic response to the evaluation criteria outlined therein.

“Developing winning proposals that accurately show the company’s capabilities, solution approach, and value proposition in a compelling and compliant manner requires solid technical and cost expertise combined with effective proposal writing skills,” says Margarita Howard.

“Small startup companies oftentimes will not have that skill set or ability. We invested heavily early on in a professional proposal team that consisted of very experienced proposal managers and writers who had years of experience in working with subject matter experts, developing comprehensive and persuasive proposals.”

At HX5, earning and preserving client trust is paramount. This is achieved through attentive listening to client needs and ensuring that delivered solutions precisely match the expected value proposition.

When Margarita Howard founded her government contracting firm she envisioned creating a company that mirrored her aspirations and values. The name, HX5 (“Howard times five,”) symbolizes the familial ethos and spirit of teamwork ingrained in the company’s core DNA.

Margarita Howard on Forging Strategic Relationships and Networking

A pivotal element of Howard’s strategy is cultivating and maintaining robust relationships with key stakeholders in the government procurement process, including procurement officers, prime contractors, and industry peers. Networking assumes a critical role, enabling HX5 to remain informed about forthcoming opportunities, comprehend shifting priorities within agencies, and effectively position itself in a crowded marketplace.

“Building relationships with government procurement officers and prime contractors enhances our chances of winning contracts by providing a better understanding of the government’s needs and challenges,” Margarita Howard notes.

The path to securing government contracts is strewn with formidable challenges, from maneuvering through complex regulations to managing intense competition. Differentiation is the key to overcoming these hurdles.

Howard says, “To overcome this challenge, we’ve had to differentiate ourselves by highlighting our unique capabilities, successful past performances, and the overall value proposition HX5 can provide for its customers. This is not a unique approach by any means. All companies successful at government contracting have to be competitive and successful in these areas.”

Moreover, Howard recognizes the substantial investments required in terms of time and resources when preparing bids. “Once we’ve identified a relevant opportunity, we have to carefully review the solicitation documents to understand the requirements and evaluation criteria,” says Howard. “We then have to prepare a comprehensive bid (proposal) that addresses all the specified requirements and demonstrates our ability to perform the work successfully at competitive prices. It’s also necessary to ensure you submit your bid before the deadline and follow all instructions provided in the solicitation.”

Leveraging the Women-Owned Business Advantage 

Margarita Howard’s path was paved through a multifaceted journey encompassing college, graduate studies, and service in the Air Force. This blend of academic rigor and military experience laid a solid foundation for her future endeavors. Her professional tenure with contractor companies supporting the military imbued her with a profound understanding of government operations and healthcare management. This comprehensive grounding set the stage for Howard’s subsequent trailblazing in the historically male-dominated realm of government contracting.

As a women-owned business, HX5 encounters unique challenges and opportunities. However, it also provided access to specific resources and networks that support women entrepreneurs. HX5 utilizes these opportunities for growth and development, enhancing its business model and expanding its reach within the industry.

“Performing on a government contract can require significant upfront investments in proposal development, marketing, and having the infrastructure in place for successful performance. As a small business starting up many years ago, HX5 faced these and other challenges due to limited financial resources and personnel,” says Margarita Howard.

“We were able to overcome these obstacles by prioritizing the opportunities we decided to go after, and we built strong and lasting subcontracting relationships with other companies. We also worked closely with the Small Business Administration utilizing various SBA resources designed to support small businesses starting up.”

Howard offers advice for those aspiring to enter the government contracting arena: Remain diligent and be prepared to invest heavily in preliminary research and bid preparation. She suggests that new entrants familiarize themselves with the SBA’s resources for small businesses and consider mentorship programs to navigate the early stages of government contracting.

“A new WOSB must also always ensure that it’s in compliance with all legal, regulatory, and ethical requirements throughout the entire contract lifecycle process, from proposal to close-out, and always maintain integrity and professionalism in all interactions with government agencies and teaming partners,” says Howard. “One should constantly be researching new opportunities, with a particular focus on contracts aligned with your capabilities, experience, and business goals.”

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