Bidding on Government Contracts? The Only Acronym You Need: PTAC

Before You Bid for Government Contracts: The Crucial Details You Need to Know

Bidding on government contracts can seem overwhelming, but asking yourself five critical questions can help you prepare.

The U.S. government may be known as the “world’s largest customer,” but selling to them is anything but simple. There are complex and detailed processes necessary for bidding on contracts, and rightly so. In fiscal year 2013, small businesses received 23 percent of government contracts, valued at around $83 billion. With that amount of funding at stake, straight-from-the-source advice for competing can be invaluable.

The American Express OPEN for Government Contracting: Success Series conference in Atlanta brought together entrepreneurs and speakers from government agencies to share first-hand stories, tips and advice to help small businesses pursue federal contracts.

During the session Where to Begin: Government Contracting 101, speakers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Small Business Administration shared a detailed synopsis of how small businesses could gain initial traction.

Ask Yourself Five Critical Questions

Ask yourself these five key questions before you begin, recommended Jennifer Tilden, supervisory business opportunity specialist at the Small Business Administration:

  1. Does the government buy what I sell?
  2. Where within the government is my product or service bought?
  3. What does the government call my product or service?
  4. When will the next purchase occur?
  5. How can I access the purchasing history?

Let’s skip the third question for a moment, and turn our attention to the other four questions outlined above. To determine whether or not the government buys your product or service—and to view which agencies are the major purchasers—turn to these three websites: This website shows the purchase history of federal agencies: Who issued the contracts? Which companies won the bids? What was the winning bid amount? Use this to answer questions one, two and five: Does the government buy your service, and if so, which agencies seek it and what’s their purchase history? Colloquially known as “Fed Biz Opps,” this website reflects the products and services that the government is actively seeking. (In official parlance, these are called “current procurement opportunities.”) Use this to answer question four: When will the next purchase occur? This search engine, powered by the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center, searches more than 1,200 government databases simultaneously. Chuck Schadl, senior counselor with the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center, described it as “the Google of government contracting.” Use this as a supplement to the two websites above to discover procurement history, identify buyers and find current opportunities.

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Source: American Express OPEN Forum, Article Written by Paula Pant of Afford Anything LLC, Published March 17, 2015

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 For help with Government Contracting: contact your nearest Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Funded through Cooperative Agreements between the U.S. Department of Defense and state and local governments/institutions, PTACs provide free and low-cost assistance in virtually all areas of government contracting.