By Beth Reece, Defense Logistics Agency Public Affairs
FORT BELVOIR, Va. — The Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) 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 DOD.
Today there are Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) 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. The centers also provide detailed instruction on registering in or using federal procurement systems, such as the System for Award Management and www.fbo.gov, the website that DOD and other federal agencies use to post opportunities for contracts. Additionally, PTAC counselors, employed by their respective state or location, ensure that small business owners have proper licenses and certifications.
The program 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,” said 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 added. “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,” he said.
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, said Jane Dowgwillo, who manages 10 PTACs scattered throughout Florida. She leads a team of 13 government contracting specialists who help small businesses understand the requirements of working with the government.
And just because PTAC services are usually free doesn’t mean they’re inferior. “Most of my counselors and those around the country have been contracting officers themselves, or they came to us from a state or local agency purchasing area. They have a wealth of experience and hands-on expertise,” she said.
One beneficiary of that know-how is Winnie Cichosz, who runs a small, woman-owned janitorial business in Alaska. “Federal contracting is overwhelming for a small business like mine,” she said. “The PTAC helped me along the way.”
For more information on PTACs and small business opportunities with DLA, go to http://www.dla.mil/HQ/SmallBusiness.aspx
Find your PTAC at http://www.dla.mil/HQ/SmallBusiness/PTAC.aspx
As a DOD combat support agency, DLA provides the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, other federal agencies and joint and allied forces with a variety of logistics, acquisition and technical services. The agency sources and provides nearly 100 percent of the consumable items America’s military forces need to operate, from food, fuel and energy, to uniforms, medical supplies and construction and barrier equipment. DLA also supplies more than 88 percent of the military’s spare parts. Headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, DLA has about 26,000 employees worldwide and supports more than 2,430 weapon systems.