As businesses seek to expand their footprints and sharpen their competitive edge, the global market becomes a natural arena for expansion. Since Washington, D.C. is the global hub of government contracting, it’s a natural fit for businesses looking for international opportunities. Thus, the marriage of a D.C. location and a global business model is a match made in heaven.
D.C.’s international governmental contracting scene runs the gamut from defense contracting, to trade, to humanitarian aid. During FY2015, the Department of Defense contracted for over $272 billion in goods and services. Among these contracts, over $300 million went toward language training, interpretation, and translation—central service needs for international initiatives. While this is a substantial amount of business, the trend has been downward from its peak in FY2010 when the Better Buying Power Initiative was implemented. This market, now more competitive than ever, rewards innovation and technical excellence. Technologies such as Video Relay Services, Communication Access Real Time translations, and Computer Aided Translation software are changing the landscape for service expectations.
A burgeoning area within the international language services industry is trade. Trade missions, and reverse trade missions, provide fruitful opportunities for providing language services. Through D.C.-headquartered agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of International Trade and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, businesses have access to government contracts which fill trade delegations’ needs for cultural training, interpreting, and translation. Dignitaries receiving these services are able to communicate precisely and personally, business can be conducted efficiently, and cultural differences can be respected meaningfully.
If humanitarian aid is your bent, D.C.’s USAID office provides entrée to international language service contracts with heart. USAID delivers services ranging from water and sanitation improvements to education and women’s empowerment. Providing avenues for effective oral and written communication, and paving the way for culturally appropriate interactions, is the privilege afforded to USAID’s contractors. The altruistic initiatives are seemingly endless and opportunities to partner with USAID abroad abound.
As the nexus between government contracting and international business, D.C. is truly the heartbeat of the global procurement body.
 “Advanced Data Search.” Advanced Data Search. USASpending.gov, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.
 Beny, Alan. “Better Buying Power.” Better Buying Power. Services Acquisition (SA), n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.
-Terri Messer, Government Bid Writer and Strategist