During my webinars and in blog postings, I frequently talk about how you can get no cost support for your business development efforts in the government market through a program funded in part through a cooperative agreement by the Department of Defense and a non-profit near you called a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). In this article I hope to provide you with a better understanding of this program. Leveraging the resources and people at your local PTAC can make your road to government contracts much shorter and less bumpy.
So, here are my top 6 things you should know about PTACs, and how to make best use of them.
- First off, what is a PTAC? The short answer: It should be your first stop when looking for assistance with government contracting. There are a lot of things that they can do for your business for free or for a nominal cost (depends on the PTAC), especially early on as you are trying to get your bearings in the government marketplace. A great description of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) and Procurement Technical Assistance Program can be found on the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) website. Click here to read about this program, then come back for the rest of the story, as the late great Paul Harvey would say.
- How to find your local PTAC? The best ways to find your local PTAC can be by using the mapping tool on APTAC’s Homepage.
- What you may not know about PTACs. Whether you heard about PTACs through my blog postings and webinars, or another source, what is not often mentioned is the amazing talent among their counselors across the U.S. I worked as a PTAC counselor for nearly 5 years after spending time in the acquisition community of several government agencies to include the U.S. Navy, City of Vancouver, WA, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. During my tenure as a PTAC counselor, some of the colleagues I worked with throughout Oregon and Washington included retired Contract Specialists from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the General Services Administration (GSA). Do you want to be successful in winning and performing a contract with your target agency? What a better resource to have than a retired Contract Specialist from that agency. While not everyone in the PTAC family is a former Contract Specialist, each person has their own unique strengths to bring to the organization in supporting small businesses, along with a passion to see you succeed in the government market.
- Common areas where PTACs provide support include, but are not limited to the following:
- One-on-One Counseling
- Federal Registration Assistance
- Small Business Certification Assistance
- Bid Matching Service (Great for helping you find government opportunities)
- Solicitation Interpretation
- Proposal Guidance & Review
- Subcontracting Assistance
- In addition to the above areas, PTACs also provide frequent training on doing business with the government agencies through workshops and conferences. These venues also serve as a great opportunity to network and meet with government buyers, large primes, as well as other small business owners who may eventually become a teaming partner.
- How to best leverage PTAC resources. I can’t speak for all PTACs across the country, as each program may differ from state to state in the way they provide support to their clients. However, when I was a PTAC counselor, I always told my clients to use me as often as they needed. In fact, I recommended regular meetings so that we could keep a pulse on what’s happening in their business development efforts and continue to guide them through the next steps. By working and keeping in contact with your PTAC regularly, you will benefit by significantly reducing, or eliminating problems that you might run into had you not been working with your PTAC. Your PTAC can also inform you of areas of risk for your business that you probably didn’t even know existed. That’s why I can’t stress enough the importance of a routine check in with your PTAC, even if you don’t have specific issues or questions. I recommend making an appointment for a one-on-one session with your local PTAC representative to get to know them, become a client, and find out how they can support your business.
- PTAC limitations and alternate resources. While PTACs are great at guiding and helping you, they are not set up to do the work for you. Hence, there may be times when you seek third party support resources if you don’t have the time or desire to do it yourself. There are some wonderful people and companies in the private sector who can be instrumental in your success. However, you have to be careful because there are also plenty of predatory and aggressive companies out there who don’t have your best interest at heart. These companies will sell you on products and services for hundreds or thousands of dollars that will get you nowhere and that you can actually receive at no cost through working with your local PTAC. Additionally, many companies are downright deceptive when it comes to their marketing by making their websites and email campaigns look like official government correspondence. This is another great area where PTACs can help to keep you from falling prey to some of these companies. My recommendation: If you receive an email or phone solicitation, before you jump into an engagement with anyone, do your due diligence, don’t buy on the spot, research the company online, and consult with your local PTAC.
If you are seeking trusted resources to support you outside of PTAC, you can also visit Govology Connect. Each company in our service provider directory has been personally vetted by a member of the Govology team to help businesses better find and connect with trusted industry partners. That said, we recommend as in any endeavor that you interview two or three providers (even if they are in our directory) and conduct your own due diligence to ensure they are right for your company.