Just like anybody else, the government needs to buy things. The question is, from whom?
To navigate the process of procuring a government contract, the Connecticut Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) offers one-on-one business counseling and several other services to help companies find new opportunities for doing business with the government.
In order to level the playing field between large corporations and contractors and small to mid size businesses, most federal and state government entities have specific quotas outlining a percentage of government contract work that must be awarded to small businesses and minority- or women-owned businesses.
The Business Journal recently spoke with Brien Robertson, Connecticut PTAP program director, about the opportunities for businesses in contracting with state government.
The following are excerpts from the conversation:
Business Journal: What should companies know about doing business with the government?
Robertson: “A business should know that contracting with the government can be a lucrative avenue to pursue but that it takes special attention, lots of work and diligence. In today’s world, public bidding is heavily reliant on electronic formats so their computer skills need to be accomplished. Companies should realize that ethical standards are high, good record keeping is essential and things are forever changing.”
How can CT PTAP help?
“Congress established the Procurement Technical Assistance Program in 1985 because they realized that businesses had to have a resource for understanding government procurement policies.
“(PTAP) can assist a company in providing guidance and knowledge of the methods and procedures used in government contracting. For example, we generally try to find out about possible existing contracts and pricing histories before a company submits a bid for an ongoing product or service. We provide guidance in explaining registrations, marketing skills and procedures, FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) clauses, et cetera.”
How can a company find current bids and develop a proposal?
“The state’s online bid portal is the best source for finding state and municipal bids. The bid portal also includes bids issued by nonprofit organizations, parochial schools, et cetera. The bid portal contains a link in which vendors can register to get daily emails alerts when new bids (and) RFPs (requests for proposals) are issued.
“Every state in the nation now has a bid portal and companies frequently register with many states. Federal bids that have a budget estimate over $25,000 are posted on the federal website fedbizopps.gov. Generally, the old traditional (method) of keeping a bid list is a dated concept, but vendors should also visit an agency’s website for smaller quotations.”
If a business already contracts with the government, what other opportunities exist?
“There are always new opportunities. Because public contracting is very transparent, a company should focus on looking for unexplored markets. There are resources that allow companies to look at federal forecast and budget projections. Companies should be always looking around the corner. For example, once the state’s Bond Commission approves funding, in all likelihood, upcoming corresponding bids will be issued. Additionally, (Connecticut PTAP) frequently presents seminars about marketing to the government, in which new markets are explored.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of the Business Journal for the week of Jan. 21, 2013.