Government agencies offer advice on avoiding contract mistakes

By Virginia Bridges —

Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges attended Marketplace, a 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.

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.

"They don’t really do their homework. That is why you have groups like PTAC and North Carolina Military Business Center, SBA, SCORE, to assist contractors to understand the federal process because it’s just not bidding on work, it’s understanding the requirements and meeting specifics, regardless of the product, services or commodity the government is asking for,” said Sue Kranes, military construction contracting specialist with the N.C. Military Business Center.

“Follow instructions,” said Kevin Logan, a contracting officer with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “A lot of times there are quite a few different items that need to be submitted with a quote.”

“The biggest misconception is that it is going to happen quickly,” said Terry Stroud, a Procurement Technical Assistance Center counselor with the Small Business and Technology Development Center. “It’s a long-term process. It is not a quick fix.”

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