Red tape and government go hand in hand and nowhere is that red tape in greater evidence and hard to cut through than when a citizen is trying to collect payments promptly from federal government agencies. While the Prompt Payment Act–in theory–requires that the government to pay in 30 days, in practice private companies say they don't see the money for 90 to 180 days on average. But now Vengroff Williams & Associates (VWA), a provider of receivables management business process outsourcing for more than 3,000 customers worldwide, has launched a government collections service that VWA says is designed to reduce days sales outstanding (DSO) on federal receivablesby at least 50% and improve working capital management. The tool is called Government Solutions Program, and the key to its success, VWA says, is its detailed knowledge of the ins and outs of the Federal Acquisition Regulation Systems (FARS). Just by remapping bills and invoices to be FARS compliant, GSP speeds up the collection process. "If a bill doesn't match up perfectly against the purchase order, the federal government is going to spit that invoice back at you because it doesn't match," says David Laud, director of operations at VWA. "The process of remapping is about half of what contributes to a successful collection. The other half is our expertise in dealing with the federal government."

VWA also helps clients collect monies that have been written off. Once a purchase order has been open with the federal government for 365 days, explains Laud, the federal government de-obligates the funds that have been attached to that purchase order. "A lot of the companies don't expect to collect on a percentage of that business. Companies in effect are writing off that bad debt with the government."

Says David Laud: "It allows companies to be more competitive in bidding for and getting federal business and it allows them to experience the same performance on their federal portfolio as they do on their regular business to business portfolio."

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