GTPAC receives funding commitments to enter into 29th year of service to Georgia businesses

November 14, 2014 by

In 2015, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) will enter into its 29th year of continuous operation, serving Georgia businesses with assistance in winning and managing government contracts.

That’s made possible based on a 50-50 funding match between the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and state funding made available through Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).  With financial support from Georgia Tech and DLA, GTPAC is one of the longest, continuously operating PTAC’s in the nation.  GTPAC is one of 98 PTACs operating in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

On [insert date], the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) received a written commitment from the DLA that full funding would be made available to Georgia Tech to ensure another year of procurement technical assistance center (PTAC) operations in the state of Georgia.

Of the nation’s PTACs, the Georgia Tech program has one of the strongest track records.  In the past 10 years, for example, GTPAC has supported Georgia businesses in winning between $500 million and $1 billion in government contracts annually.

In calendar year 2013, GTPAC’s clients won 4,952 government prime contracts and 593 subcontracts worth a total of $661 million.  GTPAC counseled, instructed, and provided bid opportunities to 2,908 businesses across the State of Georgia last year.  GTPAC also conducted 160 classes and participated in 62 events state-wide where more than 6,000 business people received instruction on how to effectively compete for government contracts.  In all, GTPAC staff members conducted 8,377 counseling sessions with Georgia-based small businesses in 2013 as well as 395 counseling sessions with large businesses.

“We are proud to serve Georgia businesses,” states GTPAC program director Joe Beaulieu.  “More importantly, we are proud of our clients’ achievements in the government contracting arena.  It’s a real testament to the tenacity and hard work on the part of our clients that so much success has been achieved.  Those that use our services to the fullest tend to be those who win contracts.”

“We’re thankful,” continues Beaulieu, “that DLA evaluates our results positively and continues to provide funding.  And, without Georgia Tech’s financial and management support, we couldn’t operate as effectively as we do.  In tough economic times, full funding is not to be taken for granted, so we appreciate the support of all of our stakeholders — EI2’s top management, DLA, federal and state elected officials, and, of course, the businesses we serve.”

GTPAC operates offices in Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Carrollton, Savannah and Warner Robins.  The program provides Georgia businesses with counseling, training, and a complete set of tools to research and identify government contracting opportunities.  For contact information, and to register for any GTPAC class statewide, visit the program’s web site at www.gtpac.org.

IG reports continued weaknesses in small business reporting and 8(a) program

November 13, 2014 by

The Office of the Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. Small Business Administration reports on 11 weaknesses in a range of SBA programs.  Two of the “challenges” identified in the Oct. 17, 2014 report pertain directly to small business participation in federal contracting:

  • Procurement flaws allow large firms to obtain small business awards, and allow agencies to count contracts performed by large firms towards their small business goals.
  • The SBA needs to modify the Section 8(a) Business Development  Program so more firms receive business development assistance, standards for  determining economic disadvantage are justifiable, and the SBA ensures that firms follow 8(a) regulations when completing contracts.

SBA - IGThe IG’s full document, entitled “Report on the Most Serious Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Small Business Administration In Fiscal Year 2015″ can be downloaded here, but the text of the IG’s finding on the two point just cited appears below.

Procurement Reporting

The Small Business Act established a Government-wide goal that 23 percent of the total value of all prime contracts be awarded to small businesses each fiscal year. As the advocate for small business, the SBA should strive to ensure that only small firms obtain and perform small business awards. Further, the SBA should ensure that procuring agencies accurately report contracts awarded to small businesses when representing their progress in meeting small business contracting goals.

In September 2014, we issued a report that identified over $400 million in FY 2013 contract actions that may
have been awarded to ineligible firms. We also identified over $1.5 billion dollars in contract actions for
which the firms were in the 8(a) or HUBZone programs at the time of contract award, but were no longer in
these programs in FY 2013. Previous OIG audits and other Government studies have shown widespread
misreporting by procuring agencies, since many contract awards that were reported as having gone to small
firms have actually been performed by larger companies. While some contractors may misrepresent or
erroneously calculate their size, most of the incorrect reporting results from errors made by Government
contracting personnel, including misapplication of small business contracting rules. In addition, contracting
officers do not always review the on-line certifications that contractors enter into Government databases
prior to awarding contracts. The SBA should ensure that procuring agencies accurately report contracts
awarded to small businesses when representing their progress in meeting small business contracting goals,
and that contracting personnel are reviewing on-line certifications prior to awarding contracts.

The SBA revised its regulations to require firms to meet the size standard for each specific order to address a
loophole within General Services Administration Multiple Awards Schedule (MAS) contracts, which contain
multiple industrial codes that determine the size of the company. Previously, a company awarded an MAS
contract could identify itself as a small business on individual task orders awarded under that contract, even
though it did not meet the size criteria for the applicable task. Thus, agencies received small business credit
for using a firm classified as small, when the firm was not small for specific orders under the MAS contract. In
addition, the SBA submitted a final rule to the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Council to implement the
changes made to its regulations in the FAR. The SBA also updated its standard operating procedure (SOP) to
ensure consistency in conducting its surveillance reviews to assess Federal agencies’ management of their
small business programs and compliance with regulations and applicable procedures.

While the SBA has made substantial progress on this challenge, we are working with the Agency to verify that
the surveillance reviews were conducted in a thorough and consistent manner.

                                                                                               ***

8(a) Program

The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development (BD) Program was created to assist eligible small disadvantaged
business concerns to compete in the American economy through business development. Previously, the
SBA did not place adequate emphasis on business development to enhance the ability of 8(a) firms to
compete, and did not adequately ensure that only 8(a) firms with economically disadvantaged owners in
need of business development remained in the program. Companies that were “business successes”
were allowed to remain in the program and continue to receive 8(a) contracts, causing fewer companies
to receive most of the 8(a) contract dollars and many to receive none.

The SBA has made progress towards addressing issues that hinder its ability to deliver an effective 8(a)
BD Program. For example, the SBA expanded its ability to provide assistance to program participants
through its resource partners—small business development centers, service corps of retired executives,
and procurement technical assistance centers. In addition, the SBA has taken steps to ensure business
opportunity specialists assess program participants’ business development needs during site visits. The
SBA also revised its regulations, effective March 2011, to ensure that companies deemed “business
successes” graduate from the program. These regulations also establish additional standards to address
the definition of “economic disadvantage.” Agency officials stated that the rule-making process served
as an adequate proxy to objectively and reasonably determine effective measures for economic
disadvantage, and were not aware of any reliable sources of data to determine economic disadvantage.

However, for the second consecutive year, the SBA has not completed updating its SOP for the 8(a) BD
Program to reflect the March 2011 regulatory changes. In addition, we continue to maintain that the
SBA’s standards for determining economic disadvantage are not justified or objective based on the
absence of economic analysis. In December 2011, the SBA awarded a contract to develop and deploy a
new IT system by December 2012 to assist the SBA in monitoring 8(a) program participants. However,
the new system has not been deployed, and its delivery date and capabilities are undetermined at this
time.

What does GTPAC do?

October 13, 2014 by

Last week, Government Product News, an on-line publication of American City & County magazine, published an interview with Georgia Tech’s Chuck Schadl.  The interview is helpful in outlining the services offered by the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) as well as other procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs) across the country.

You can read the full article by clicking here: Procurement Technical Assistance Centers Are a Useful Resource

Beware of ‘government vendor registration’ websites that charge a fee

July 22, 2014 by

We’ve previously alerted you to the existence of websites which unnecessarily lead businesses to pay a fee to be registered in government databases such as SAM, the System for Award Management (see, for example, http://gtpac.org/?p=7326).

Now, we want to make you aware of other websites that purport to get businesses registered to do business with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — for a hefty fee, of course.

Please be aware of the fact that commercial websites (.com websites, in other words) are just that — commercial.  When a commercial website advertises to help you with the process of registering to do business with the government, there’s almost always going to be a fee involved.  On the other hand, government websites (designated as .gov) offer free advice and registration.

One commercial website — currently running an aggressive advertising campaign directed at businesses — solicits vendors to fill out a “FEMA Contract Registration Form.”  Once the form is filled out and submitted on-line, applicants receive the following message: “Thank you for submitting your information. We will be in contact with you shortly. Click below to make a payment of $500.00 for this service.”   By clicking on the “Buy Now” button, you’ll be directed to a site to pay $500.00 via a PayPal account for “FEMA Registration.”

Please know that FEMA does not charge any money to register as a vendor to do business with them.  And neither does any other federal agency.

In order to register as a potential vendor to FEMA, we recommend you:

  1. Visit FEMA’s official website at http://www.fema.gov/doing-business-fema.  There, you are given instructions to register in SAM (www.sam.gov) and then download FEMA’s Vendor Profile Form at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/29748?id=6679.
  2. Read the instructions for submitting FEMA’s Vendor Profile Form for free.  The instructions are located at: http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1858-25045-7342/ilp_factsheet.pdf.

To receive assistance with any aspect of vendor registration with any government agency at no cost, please feel free to contact the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center.  Our contact information is at: http://gtpac.org team-directory.

If your business is located outside the state of Georgia, you can get free help from the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) nearest you.  For a map of locations and complete contact information for PTACs nationwide, please visit: http://www.aptac-us.org.

 

Business owner says soliciting government business worth the hassle

April 14, 2014 by

[Note: This article was written by Michelle Shoultz, president of Florida-based Frazier Engineering.]

For more than 20 years, Frazier Engineering had a strong commercial and municipal/county government customer base that comfortably sustained our small business.

But as the economy changed, we knew we had to change.

We decided to pursue unique certifications that would enable us to compete for federal work in a smaller competitive pool certifications such as 8(a), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise/DBE and Minority Business Enterprise/MBE).

Through the Small Business Administration 8(a) program, we were given opportunities that we would not have had before. However, if we did not already have the knowledge and manpower to support the requirements of those opportunities, our certification would only have been as good as the paper it was printed on. Our success to date has been the result of a solid team, being financially and technically sound, having a strong work history, and being actively responsive.

I’d like to share some lessons we’ve learned over time.

As a small-to-midsize, growing business leader, I would definitely recommend the time and effort involved in pursuing government contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.floridatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/04/01/business-money-edge-chamber/7146529/ 

 

GTPAC receives full funding for another year of service to Georgia businesses

December 24, 2013 by

It’s like a Christmas present delivered early.

On Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) received confirmation from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) that full funding would be made available to Georgia Tech to ensure another year of procurement technical assistance center (PTAC) operations in the state of Georgia.

GTPAC’s operations are funded on the basis of a 50-50 match between DLA and state funding made available through Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).   GTPAC is one of 98 PTACs operating in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

With 28 years of financial support from Georgia Tech and DLA, GTPAC is one of the longest, continuously operating PTAC’s in the nation.  GTPAC also has one of the strongest track records.  In the past 10 years, for example, GTPAC has supported Georgia businesses in winning between $500 million and $1 billion in government contracts annually.

In calendar year 2012, GTPAC’s clients won 5,462 government prime contracts and 740 subcontracts worth a total of $668 million.  GTPAC counseled, instructed, and provided bid opportunities to 3,094 businesses across the State of Georgia last year.  GTPAC also conducted 161 classes and participated in 61 events state-wide where more than 5,900 business people received instruction on how to effectively compete for government contracts.  In all, GTPAC staff members conducted 9,249 counseling sessions with Georgia-based small businesses in 2012 as well as 520 counseling sessions with large businesses.

“We are proud to serve Georgia businesses,” states GTPAC program director Joe Beaulieu.  “More importantly, we are proud of our clients’ achievements in the government contracting arena.  It’s a real testament to the tenacity and hard work on the part of our clients that so much success has been achieved.  Those that use our services to the fullest tend to be those who win contracts.”

“We’re thankful,” continues Beaulieu, “that DLA evaluates our results positively and continues to provide funding.  And, without Georgia Tech’s financial and management support, we couldn’t operate as effectively as we do.  In these tough economic times, full funding is not to be taken for granted, so we appreciate the support of all of our stakeholders — EI2’s top management, DLA, federal and state elected officials, and, of course, the businesses we serve.”

GTPAC operates offices in Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Carrollton, Savannah and Warner Robins.  The program provides Georgia businesses with counseling, training, and a complete set of tools to research and identify government contracting opportunities.  For contact information, and to register for any GTPAC class statewide, visit the program’s web site at www.gtpac.org.

 

SAM.gov registration is free, and help with SAM is free, too

November 11, 2013 by

Businesses interested in Federal contracting must, as an initial step, register in the Government’s vendor database known as System for Award Management (SAM).   Registration at the official SAM web site — www.sam.gov – is free.

The good news is that SAM registration is something that any vendor can take care of by themselves.  And if any vendor needs instruction, help is readily available at no charge.

Here are three important tips:

    1. Don’t be confused by look-alike web sites.  There is only one SAM database, and it’s a secure web site operated by the Federal Government.  It’s located at https://www.sam.gov.  You also can navigate to SAM by simply typing sam.gov or www.sam.gov in your web browser.  Either of these variations will redirect to SAM’s secure web site.  The key thing to know is that the official Federal SAM website is a “.gov” website, not a commercial website, so SAM.com is not an option if you’re trying to navigate to a Government web site.
    2. There are helpful videos now available on-line to help you with the SAM registration process.  If your business previously had a file set-up in Central Contractor Registration (CCR), you’ll need to migrate your old vendor record over to SAM; for instruction on how to do this, view the instructional video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuFGM9H0gPI&feature=c4-overview&list=UUGYKiouhiBpijT51CplQZ-w.    If your business was never registered in CCR, then your starting point is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VPGVYPvch4&list=UUGYKiouhiBpijT51CplQZ-w.
    3. If you need advice on how to organize your records in order to register in SAM — or you need help with the SAM registration process itself – expert assistance is available free of charge to all vendors, small and large.  Just contact the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) nearest you.  PTACs have produced a SAM instructional video, too, and it’s available here:  https://netforum.avectra.com/eWeb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=APTAC&WebCode=SAM.  A complete list of all PTACs across the nation is available at http://www.aptac-us.org/new/Govt_Contracting/find.php.    In Georgia, you can contact any of the nine PTAC offices located across the state — all contact information can be found at: http://gtpac.org/team-directory.

Remember, SAM registration is necessary if you want to do business with Federal agencies.  Remember, too, SAM registration is something you can tackle yourself.  There is never a charge to register at sam.gov, and help with the SAM registration process is readily available, at no charge, from your nearest PTAC.

New video offers expert instruction on registering in SAM

August 28, 2013 by

As you may know, one of the prerequisites for doing business with the federal government is registering in SAM — the System for Award Management.  Among other things, SAM is the government’s vendor data base — a way for government buyers (and prime contractors) to find you and pay you once you’re under contract.  The SAM database also serves many other purposes, all important to the acquisition process.

When SAM was created about a year ago, it aggressively combined several large, stand-alone databases and merged them into one.  The “data migration” challenge was great, and glitches emerged.  As a result, many vendors have experienced problems both in getting existing vendor files to move over to SAM (i.e., migrate) as well as with creating a new vendor registration from scratch.

Since SAM’s launch, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) and GTPAC’s counterparts across the country have spent countless hours assisting businesses with SAM.  Our professional development association, the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC), has drawn upon what we’ve learned nationally and has created a new video that explains the SAM registration process.

The SAM instructional video is now available for viewing at: https://netforum.avectra.com/eWeb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=APTAC&WebCode=SAM.

If you are tackling SAM anytime soon, you’ll want to view the video for many helpful hints and tips.  For further help, contact a GTPAC counselor.  If you are located outside Georgia, contact a counselor with a procurement technical assistance center (PTAC) near you.  To find the nearest PTAC, please visit: http://www.aptac-us.org/new/Govt_Contracting/find.php.

Government agencies offer advice on avoiding contracting mistakes

June 13, 2013 by

[Editor's Note: The Raleigh, NC News Observer's "Shop Talk" reporter Virginia Bridges attended Marketplace, a local workshop and networking opportunity to help small businesses identify government contracting opportunities, and asked representatives from various agencies about common mistakes small-business owners make when seeking government contracts.  Below is a list of tips offered.]

•  “One of the major components is small-business owners fail to actually understand what the city really needs,” said Luther Williams, Raleigh’s Business Assistance Program manager. “I think this could be solved if individuals would just look at the request that the city has out there and do a little research on the city’s request to determine if their product is compatible with the city’s needs.”

•  “They haven’t made the internal decision as to whether or not they really want to do business with the federal government,” said Bruce Osborne, a customer service director with U.S. General Services Administration. “Seventy-five percent of them have not asked themselves that question and afforded the opportunity to debate it with their organization.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/06/10/2953923/government-agencies-offer-advice.html 

GTPAC earns recognition for hosting national conference

May 18, 2013 by

Over 300 business counselors, representing programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico traveled to Atlanta last week (April 21-25, 2013) to participate in a comprehensive training conference hosted by the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).

The conference was held by the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) which is the trade association representing the 90+ PTACs across the country.  GTPAC is one of the original PTACs, having been established in 1985 and operating continuously ever since.  PTACs are funded by the Defense Logistics Agency, supplemented by funding matches from local sponsors such as Georgia Tech, to assist businesses identify, compete for, and win government contracts at the federal, state and local government levels.

“Holding the annual training meeting in Atlanta enabled us to showcase the nation’s best practices in procurement counseling, and highlight the innovative efforts we’re spearheading right here in Georgia,” pointed out Chuck Schadl, group manager for government contracting services within Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.  Schadl also serves as APTAC’s vice president for education and was responsible for vetting the 30 speakers at the conference.  “The conference was the result of a year-long effort to identify experts across the country, from both public and private sectors, who were willing to share techniques that have proven to be successful in helping businesses grow through government contracts.”

Joe Beaulieu, GTPAC’s program manager, oversaw many of the conference’s details and personally moderated a session on the inner-workings of the System for Award Management (SAM), the federal database launched last fall that contains vendor registration, payment, and performance information.  “There have been many problems with the implementation of SAM, and we took this opportunity to provide instruction on the ‘work-arounds’ we’ve developed that would benefit our colleagues and their clients,” commented Beaulieu.

Another highlight of the conference stemmed from a special four-hour educational workshop on the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) conducted by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech (The Academy).  More than half of the conference’s total attendees signed-up for this pre-conference workshop, held on Sunday afternoon, April 21, at the downtown Hyatt.   The Academy’s program manager, Donna Bertrand, worked with Schadl to develop the workshop which was entitled “The Complete FAR Guide for PTAC Counselors.”

In a special presentation at APTAC’s awards dinner,  GTPAC’s statewide staff was formally recognized for their educational efforts in support of PTACs nationwide.

Chuck Schadl (center) accepts award on behalf of GTPAC from APTAC's immediate past president Gunnar Schalin and new president Juanita Beauford.

Chuck Schadl (center) accepts award on behalf of GTPAC from APTAC’s immediate past president Gunnar Schalin and president-elect Juanita Beauford.