Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) are one of the best-kept secrets in the Business-to-Government (B2G) marketplace. PTACs are charged with helping businesses compete for government contracts by providing technical support for free, or at a nominal cost. I recently sat down with Tiffany Scroggs, the Director of Washington PTAC, to illuminate some of the services her organization offers to businesses in the B2G space. You can listen to the podcast below; in this blog I’ll summarize some of the main points from the discussion:
A Brief History of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers
The Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers website provides this short history of the PTAC program:
[PTACs were] authorized by Congress in 1985 in an effort to expand the number of businesses capable of participating in the government marketplace. Administered by the Department of Defense, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the program provides matching funds through cooperative agreements with state and local governments and non-profit organizations for the establishment of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) to provide procurement assistance.Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers
While originally funded by the federal government, the program’s mandate extends to government contracting at all levels of government, including state, local and educational (SLED) markets. Many PTAC counselors themselves have experience in public procurement, and offer outstanding consulting services to help business owners get up and running. Many choose to combine the expertise PTACs offer with the Onvia Guide for Small Business when they first enter the B2G contracting market. With this combination, government contracting can open up many new opportunities for your business.
3 Critical Services Offered by PTACs
In our discussion Tiffany highlighted 3 important services that PTACs offer to B2G-facing businesses:
- Providing assistance with editing proposals
- Guidance to help businesses understand what government opportunities are best for their unique capabilities
- Assisting in registration for System of Awards Management (SAM), and certification processes for woman-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned businesses
One of the most intimidating parts of government contracting is the proposal process itself. While they won't write the proposal for you, PTACs are able to help edit and refine your proposal to increase the chances of success for your proposal - not just once, but through multiple rounds of editing. Onvia offers a number of resources to help you craft successful proposals, and we recommend you refer to them to help get things started. At first, the process may take longer than you initially expect, but the learning curve will decrease as you familiarize yourself with the requirements.
Another challenge for entering the B2G space is understanding what contracting opportunities are a good fit for a business’s unique capabilities and needs. While the US Government is the single biggest buyer in the country, not every business should enter the marketplace. PTACs are a great resource for helping you understand your business’s capabilities, and what government expects from its vendors. In my experience, they are eager to answer your questions and provide guidance to help you grow your business. Under Tiffany’s leadership, Washington PTAC alone accounted for $592 million in prime and sub-contracting contracts their team helped secure for their clients. For a business starting out, a PTAC may be able to help you identify a target government contract, and understand what it takes to be able to win. The Onvia Guide for Small Business will help find those opportunities, and alert you to them as soon as they come out - a potent combination.
The final problem PTACs help business solve is the issue of certifications. What are they, and how does one get them? In addition to being a certified small business, one can apply for recognition as minority-owned, woman-owned, service, disabled or veteran-owned, among others. PTACs host seminars and workshops, and also collaborate with the Small Business Administration to help businesses apply for the 8(a) Business Development Program and HUBZone. It’s become something of a myth that set-asides are only available at the Federal level, when in fact they are readily available for state and local projects.
Combine PTAC Know-how with Onvia’s Innovative B2G Technology
If your business is just starting on its journey competing in the B2G marketplace, PTACs offer an invaluable support system to help file your first proposal, understand your strengths, and register for certifications that will help you secure government business. If you work in 3 states or less, sign up for a subscription to the Onvia Guide for Small Business today to get started in the B2G market.