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GovCon Expert Kim Koster: The 2023 GAUGE Report Informs on GovCon Industry-Wide Best Practices

By Kim Koster, VP of Industry Marketing at Unanet

For government contracting companies, it’s advantageous to stay up to date on what other companies in your industry are doing. What processes and methodologies do they use? What trends are they noticing? How are they delivering successful project outcomes, maintaining compliance and winning new business?  

A recently released report can help you answer these questions.  

For seven years, Unanet and CohnReznick LLP have partnered to gather data from GovCon organizations throughout the industry to provide a comprehensive analysis of the common threads among successful companies. It’s called the GAUGE Report, and we just released our 2023 edition (download it – for free – right here).  

Let’s take a closer look at what the GAUGE Report is and how it can help your company along with a few of the key insights from this year’s report.   

What is the GAUGE Report?  

First, a definition: the GAUGE Report is an annual industry roadmap of benchmarks and trends designed for GovCon companies and executives. This comprehensive guide offers insights into the current market, best practices and forecasting techniques.  

Each year Unanet sends out a survey to GovCons of different sizes and missions. This year, we surveyed over 1,100 GovCon executives and management. Once we collect their responses, we then analyze their feedback to uncover current trends and best practices. 

The report derives its name from an acronym covering the key focus areas for government contractors: Government contract compliance, Accounting, Utilization, Growth and Efficiencies.  

Benchmarking and best practices: how the GAUGE Report helps GovCon companies 

With its actionable data and feedback from other GovCon companies, think of the GAUGE Report as a measuring stick for your business. It helps you establish relevant benchmarks by which you can evaluate your success and progress.  

Containing a multitude of key insights on what other government contractors are doing to succeed, the report allows you to compare your performance and practices against your peers. It also provides an overarching view of the current GovCon market and business environment.  

The main theme from this year’s GAUGE Report: lead by forecasting 

The findings from this year’s GAUGE Report were clear: for GovCon firms to be successful in 2023 and beyond, accurate forecasting and planning are essential. 

The 2023 GAUGE Report stresses the importance of on-point forecasting, resource efficiency and diversity of services/products and contract types. It also urges small-medium business GovCon companies to strengthen their planning and forecasting by making longer-term preparations such as investing in infrastructure and capabilities, developing a clearer picture of their pipeline, leveraging technology and seeking expert guidance. 

Other notable points include the importance of indirect rate forecasting and return on investment forecasting, and the challenges faced by SMBs in timekeeping and billing compared to larger revenue companies. The report also emphasizes the advantages of having a formal capture process in place for federal proposals. 

Each component of the GAUGE Report has findings relevant to any GovCon outfit’s day-to-day experience. Here is just a sampling of the key takeaways from each of the GAUGE Report’s topic areas:  

Government contract compliance 

51% of respondents said the level of government oversight they’ve experienced over the past five years has held steady while 46% indicated it increased. That’s particularly true for companies in the highest (more than $50 million) annual revenue band, 61 percent of which reported an increase in this area.  

Indirect rates again ranked as the most common audit challenge government contractors face.  

Business systems remain a major focus area for the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Expect that to continue next year and beyond, as these audits reinforce long-term process confidence. 

By a wide margin, the accounting system was the business system most frequently required for winning or gaining points in a solicitation.  


The most common days sales outstanding, or DSO, among all respondents is 31 to 45 days, holding steady from previous years. 

Relative to their larger counterparts, smaller GovCon firms are twice as likely to have an invoice cycle of zero to five days. 

The mergers and acquisition market remains active, with 36 percent of respondents reporting that M&A is a priority for them in 2023. Potential buyers outnumbered potential sellers by more than two to one. 


Almost two-thirds of GovCon execs — 61 percent — reported their firms are mature in the resource management discipline.  

Organizations are embracing the centralized project management office model. Since 2018, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of firms with a centralized PMO, from 37 percent to 55 percent, a clear indication that more firms across the GovCon landscape view standardizing their project management practices as a smart business approach. 

More than half — 56 percent — of SMBs in the GovCon space (annual revenue below $25 million) have a centralized PMO, a sign that SMBs view project performance as a competitive differentiator. 

Respondents indicated their projects come in on time and on-budget (or ahead on both counts) about two-thirds of the time. 


By a wide margin, leveraging personal relationships and market intel tools are the most popular avenues for finding new opportunities. 

While overall, 65% of firms have a formalized capture/gate process in place for federal proposals, that share is just 46% among firms with annual revenue under $10 million. Firms that do have such a process in place give themselves a decided advantage over those that don’t in pursuing opportunities that best fit the firm’s capabilities, expertise, and performance history. 


The share of GovCons reporting they have changed indirect rate structure during the past 12 months keeps escalating, hitting 41 percent in 2023, a high for the GAUGE Report.  

Close to seven in 10 firms (69 percent) said their indirect rate structure had changed within the past three years. Meanwhile, only 10 percent reported never having changed their indirect rate structure, an all-time survey low. Clearly, fluctuating indirect costs are an issue that firms increasingly have to manage. 

How you can use the GAUGE Report findings 

This is useful information for your company as it always helps to understand your industry’s latest trends. But where do you go next? How do you capitalize on it to help enhance your own business?   

First, download and review the full 2023 GAUGE Report. The insights contained within this report can serve as a roadmap to success, guiding GovCon members on how to navigate the future of the industry. The report contains a staggering amount of valuable data your teams will find helpful.  

By using the GAUGE Report to evaluate your company with informed benchmarking and apply best practices followed throughout the industry, your GovCon can gain a competitive advantage to enable higher performance in all areas of your business.  

About Unanet 
Unanet is a leading provider of project-based ERP and CRM solutions purpose-built for government contractors, architecture, engineering, construction, and professional services. More than 3,700 project-driven organizations depend on Unanet to turn their information into actionable insights, drive better decision-making, and accelerate business growth. All backed by a people-centered team invested in the success of your projects, people, and financials. For more information, visit www.unanet.com.

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