By Barb Ernster
Businesses that don’t have the time to research the government system or are confused about getting registered and certified can get assistance from their local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Nearly every state has at least one PTAC, which provides free counseling services. The PTACs are funded by the Department of Defense, administered by Defense Logistics Agency, to assist any business, small, not small, for profit or non profit, in obtaining government contracts—federal, state or local. Each PTAC has different contacts and different experience, but overall their services are the same, says Laura Subel, who is a procurement specialist with the Florida PTAC program at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.
A PTAC can help you with registrations, Dynamic Small Business profile, obtaining certifications such as HUBZONE (Historically Underutilized Business Zones), 8(a) certification, and various state/local government certifications. These certifications may gain preferential access to procurement opportunities. PTACs also help locate opportunities, review proposals and responses to bid requests.
“The PTAC program has been around since 1985 and it’s still the best kept secret in the nation,” Subel says. “We’re advisers. We do not provide legal advice or assist with protests. We explain to businesses what websites to review, what they are used for, and look at the websites with businesses to illustrate how to find opportunities, such as the DLA centers that are buying marine parts. It’s up to the business to decide if the listing is going to be a market for them, respond to the announcement and prepare the proposal and send it out.”
Subel also recommends the SBA Subnet where many large businesses post their need for subcontractors. Also, any business can post their capabilities for teaming/joint ventures opportunities. Large businesses with contracts in excess of $750,000 are required to have a subcontracting plan. A PTAC office will assist them to locate the subcontractors to meet their subcontracting plan goals. This is another way that a PTAC can help a small business, by connecting them with the large contractors and prime vendors.
PTACs sponsor procurement conferences and webinars in their state or region, participate in trade shows that can connect you with government purchasers, and present various training workshops on how government conducts business and their goals. Most PTACs are members of the Association of Procurement Technical Assistant Centers, which provides additional information and educational opportunities for its members to provide in-depth counseling on various subjects as rules change.