Small businesses in Washington State are in luck: a highly experienced PTAC team is available to assist contractors with the ins and outs of federal contracting.
The Washington PTAC currently consists of 14 team members, several of whom were government contracting officers before joining PTAC. This depth and breadth of knowledge allows the Washington PTAC to provide small businesses with practical advice stemming from real-world experience.
Carroll Bernard is a Washington PTAC Counselor serving southwest Washington from the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. Before becoming a PTAC counselor, Bernard served as contracting officer for the US Department of Veteran Affairs in the VISN 20 construction branch. A veteran himself, Bernard is committed to supporting small business government contractors and is certified to help veteran owned businesses become certified with the VA.
“As a former Federal Contracting Officer and Business Development Specialist at the U.S. Small Business Administration, I feel fortunate to utilize my education and experience to help small businesses grow and diversify their revenues by enabling them to successfully win and perform as a prime or sub-contractors in the government market,” says Bernard.
PTAC Counselor Mary Jo Juarez focuses on Navy contracting and works near the Navy Base Kitsap contracting office in western Washington. “Although I served as a federal Contracting Officer for many years, I spent my final years before retirement as the agency’s Small Business Advocate,” says Juarez. “This is where I discovered my true passion for assisting businesses in being successful in federal work. And I am so delighted to be able to continue this work as a PTAC counselor.”
The Washington PTAC provides free, confidential one-on-one counseling to small businesses. Among its services, the Washington PTAC helps businesses with registrations and certifications, marketing, solicitation interpretation, and much more.
Tiffany Scroggs, the Washington PTAC Program Director, works hard to ensure that the PTAC’s clients are “in the know” when it comes to federal contracting. Scroggs offers her top three tips for success in the government marketplace:
- Do your research. In the federal marketplace, you can often find out what your competitors are up to and exactly what your customer needs. Take advantage of this public information to position your business for success. Start out on www.usaspending.gov and contract your PTAC for more advanced support if needed.
- Understand the FAR clauses. Federal Acquisition Regulation clauses can seem overwhelming at first, but it is important to understand what they mean—especially those that impact your pricing (or could get you in trouble!) Businesses eager to develop and submit a proposal or quote to the US Government are often tempted to skip over reading and understanding the FAR clauses listed in the solicitation. Not understanding these can be detrimental to your success as a government contractor.
- Don’t Go It Alone. Use the expertise of the PTAC Counselors to ensure you navigate the federal marketplace as efficiently and effectively as possible. Also, forging relationships with other businesses in the marketplace might lead to strategic teaming partnerships and a higher win rate.
In addition to one-on one counseling, the Washington PTAC offers many educational events and workshops throughout the year. Contractors in the Northwest (and elsewhere) should strongly consider attending Alliance Northwest, a major small business procurement conference sponsored by the Washington PTAC and held each year in March. More information regarding this event can be found at www.alliancenorthwest.org. For a full list of events, visit www.washingtonptac.org/events.
The knowledge and experience of the Washington PTAC is paying off. In fiscal year 2014, businesses that utilized services of the Washington PTAC were awarded $300 million in federal prime contracts and subcontracts.
The Washington PTAC is part of a network of PTACs across the country. Firms outside of Washington State can find their PTAC at www.aptac-us.org.