The Defense Logistics Agency’s Office of Small Business Programs administers a unique program designed to assist small businesses as they navigate government contracting. The Procurement Technical Assistance Program was created in 1985 to provide specialized training and assistance to small businesses to help increase their participation in government contracts at local, state and federal levels, including the Defense Department.
Today, there are Procurement Technical Assistance Centers operating in Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; Guam; and all 50 states. The centers provide small businesses a variety of services, from identifying contracting opportunities to providing guidance on the bidding process, and detailed instruction on registering in or using federal procurement systems, such as the System for Award Management and www.fbo.gov, the website where the Department of Defense and other federal agencies post opportunities for contracts. Center counselors, employed by their respective state or location, also ensure small-business owners have proper licenses and certifications.
The program also benefits the government and buyers with potential contracting sources, including areas with low competition or companies with hard-to-source parts.
“By supporting new suppliers, the PTACs promote a stronger industrial base, which results in greater competition and higher quality goods at a lower cost,” says Christopher Hall, who oversees the program for DLA. “The [Defense] Department’s acquisition professionals are striving toward these goals as they work to create competitive environments and increase small business participation, which is part of DoD’s Better Buying Power 3.0.”
Market research is another step in the acquisition process where PTACs can contribute, Hall adds. “They have an in-depth knowledge of local small businesses and their capabilities and can identify potential suppliers that have demonstrated their capability to deliver.”
PTACs also host “matchmaking” events to connect small businesses with government officials, but the counselors don’t do the legwork or place bids on behalf of their clients, says Jane Dowgwillo, who leads a team of 13 government contracting specialists who help small businesses understand the requirements of working with the government