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Five Questions with Dave Pease, NH PTAP Program Manager

(Welcome to our newest feature, Five Questions. Every week, nheconomy.com will introduce you to some of the most interesting and business-savvy people in New Hampshire, all within five questions. Ed.)

 

Selling to the government, whether at the federal, state, or local levels, can be a daunting challenge for businesses to pursue. It can also be a tremendous opportunity, with nearly half a trillion dollars waiting to be spent on products and services – some of which might surprise you.Print

To learn more about selling to government agencies, we talked to David Pease, program manager for the Procurement Technical Assistance Program. PTAP is a cooperative program of the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Logistics Agency and the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development. NH-PTAP’s sole purpose is to help New Hampshire businesses win contracts and subcontracts with a wide variety of government agencies.

 

What do the opportunities for contracting with the federal government look like in 2015?

Sequestration and the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reduced government spending, so government contracting opportunities have become more competitive over the past few years. That said, it’s still an enormous market.

Federal contracting budgets peaked at $539 billion in 2011 and have declined steadily to $445 billion in 2014, a reduction of about 7 percent per year. We expect this to level off, unless Congress allows sequestration to continue, in which case the decline will continue and possibly accelerate.

Defense contracts are experiencing a shift from expenditures to support ‘boots on the ground’ to more strategic systems – ships, subs and aircraft systems. Drone-related expenditures remain high and are likely to continue to do so.

 
What business industries in New Hampshire have the best chances of landing a federal contract?

The federal government is always seeking the most effective goods and services at the lowest price consistent with high quality. New Hampshire companies that have excellent products, and are ‘lean and mean’ enough to provide them at highly competitive prices will continue to see good opportunities in the federal markets.

Many New Hampshire high-tech manufacturers have been, and will continue to be, successful bidders for federal contracts and subcontracts. In the wake of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, or commonly, ‘the Stimulus’), many New Hampshire construction contractors geared up for federal contracts, and have had increasing success carving out market share that they are likely to hold on to going forward.

We also have some outstanding specialty companies that will continue to see opportunities for their products and services.

 
What industries or types of companies would people be surprised to learn have received federal contracts with the help of PTAP?

The list is almost endless – juvenile furniture (cribs for Army daycare centers), off-road race driver training (for special operations troops) and investigation services (for the Department of Justice), to name just a few.

 
According to the SBA, “most of New Hampshire’s small businesses are very small, as 76.8 percent of all businesses have no employees, and most employers have fewer than 20 employees.” Are there opportunities for companies as small as these to bid for and win federal contracts?

Depending, of course, on the nature of the business, absolutely there are opportunities for the smallest of small businesses. Quite a number of our small machine shops, for example, make parts for military systems.

There are numerous small (but significant) contracts for landscaping, all of the construction trades, training services, security services, technical experts, food products, specialty garments – the list goes on and on.

 
What are the first steps business owners would have to take, if they’ve never done it before, to be able to bid for a federal contract?

We recommend that they become an NH-PTAP client. We provide free consulting and training to help New Hampshire businesses succeed with government contracting.

We usually start with an evaluation to understand the nature of the government markets for the company’s products or services. If the market appears to be attractive, then the company needs to determine what it needs to do to be ready to do business with Uncle Sam.

The legendary “red tape” is real, but NH-PTAP provides expert help getting through it, not just to winning a contract, but also through all of the requirements to comply with the government’s rules, along the way to successful completion and payment.
PTAP’s next training session is on Feb. 26, covering Federal Website Navigation III in Claremont. It’s a workshop where you’ll learn about the advanced tools available in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS-NG). FPDS is the repository of historical federal procurement data and can be used to better understand Federal customers’ buying patterns and structure. It also offers an opportunity to research and monitor the Federal sales of competitors and potential team members. Used effectively, FPDS can be a powerful market research tool. For more details, prerequisites, and to register for free, click here. For a list of all upcoming PTAP training events, click here.

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