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5 Questions with Martha Keene, New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Earlier this week, the New Hampshire Procurement and Technical Assistance Program won the Small Business Champion Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration. In giving the award, the SBA referred to NH-PTAP as a “group of dedicated and hardworking individuals,” and added, “NH-PTAP works tirelessly for their clients in their pursuit of government contract opportunities.”

By a lucky coincidence (really!), our interviewee this week is Martha Keene, who’s been a procurement specialist with NH-PTAP since 2002. She’s APTAC-certified as a Level II contracting assistance specialist, consulting with businesses around the state to educate them one-on-one about marketing to the government and about procurement, including both direct opportunities with the government and indirect opportunities as a subcontractor or supplier to prime contractors.

She took some time out of her schedule to talk this week about how to succeed in government bidding and contracting, as well as why New Hampshire succeeds when it comes to setting Granite State businesses up for valuable contracting opportunities.
1. You’re the longest-tenured member of the NH-PTAP team. What do you love most about the work you do?

It’s very rewarding at the end of the day knowing that I helped a company get ready to work for the government at some level, and then watching it move forward and win their its contract.


Martha Keene ~ NH-PTAP

2. Are the NH-PTAP services designed only for enterprise-level businesses, or do you assist small businesses and entrepreneurs, too?

Size is not a factor – we will work with businesses as small as one person, and most of our clients are small businesses. Readiness is a much bigger issue than size.
We like our clients to be in businesses for at least two years, successfully.

But, it all depends on the company’s products or services. We never turn people away. We talk to them and show them what is involved with contracting and help them make the determination to move forward or not. If a company is not ready for our services, we direct them to one of our resource partners to help them become more ready for government contracting, and then they eventually come back to us.

3. After working with more than 2,000 businesses, have you seen a common set of attributes that lead to success in the government contracting space?

Knowing the marketplace for your products or services.
Focusing on your capabilities – your special niche.
Knowing your competition.
Having a good accounting system, solid financials and business processes helps a lot.
Being persistent and networking with anyone who can help you grow your business.

4.What are one or two of the big mistakes businesses make when trying to land a government contract, and how do you help solve them?

One mistake is that people don’t follow directions and this makes them unresponsive. People need to take more time to read and review their bids – attention to details is always critical. The simple mistake of not signing a document can make you ‘unresponsive.’ So always take your time to read and review everything.

One of NH-PTAP’s services is to review solicitations with our clients and to work with them on bids and proposals to make sure that they are properly responsive.

5. If a business located out of state was considering a move here, what would you say sets New Hampshire apart?

Almost every state has a procurement technical assistance center/program, so these services are not unique to just New Hampshire. Where we excel is that we offer very good one-on-one counseling services to our clients to help them decide if government contracting is right for them or not.

New Hampshire business culture is generally more aggressive – we have a willingness to look for regional or national business opportunities much more than is typical of some of our neighboring states.

Contact Martha at martha.keene@dred.nh.gov.