PTAC 2018, A Year in Review

As 2018 draws to a close, I can’t help but look back at the past twelve months (It’s what we do this time of the year). All in all it’s been a pretty exciting time to be involved with Maine PTAC.

We added staff again this year; another Counselor, a Program Assistant and a Business Development Specialist. We upgraded our Washington County staff as well. For the first time since 2011, we have a full-time Counselor for each of our five Centers. And it’s a great team.

We’ve significantly beefed up our electronic presence as well. Phase one of our website revamp is in place and our Facebook page is busy and reaching more people than ever. Our newsletter is back up and running on a monthly basis, with a new look and feel that we love. And we have even joined the Twitter world, giving our clients one more way to gain valuable information about us and what the government is up to these days.

Nationally, Congress has given substantially increased the PTAC budget for the second year in a row, while instructing the Defense Department to make us an even more important element in their small business program. Congress has also expanded our role, by adding grant work under the SBIR/STTR programs to our contracting portfolio. Locally, the HUBZone pilot program that we helped develop has been extremely successful with 18 Maine firms either achieving or filing for HZ status this year alone.
We extended our local presence with new PTAC locations to meet with you. We celebrated the first ever National PTAC Day with you and we have been all around the state at your events and with our training workshops.

Looking ahead to 2019 and it’s clear that with all that we’ve done, we’re just getting started. We continue to explore ways to increase our staff and expand our local presence. We are unveiling a statewide Maine PTAC promotional campaign. We’re continually training to find new ways to assist you. And we’re hosting the New England Regional Matchmaker next April in Portland, bringing small businesses together with large Prime contractors as well as Federal and State agencies. It’s a fun ride; we’re glad to have you along with us.
Ken Bloch
Maine PTAC Program Manager
Save the Date - Matchmaker April 2019
2019 New England Region Matchmaker

Join us with our co-hosts the U.S. Small Business Administration and New Hampshire PTAC at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Portland Maine on Thursday, April 25th and Friday, April 26th. More details will be available soon, please visit
Free Upcoming Workshops
Date: Wednesday, January 9th
Time : 10:00am - 12:00pm
Location: GPCOG, Portland
Register: Click here
Date: Wednesday, January 16th
Time: 8:30am - 10:00am
Location: EMDC, Bangor
Register: Click here
Date: Thursday, February 7th
Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm
Location: AVCOG, Auburn
Register: Click here
Maine PTAC Twitter

Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms that help connect people, businesses, and government agencies. That is why we’re excited to announce the relaunch of the Maine PTAC Twitter feed. We not only hope to reach a larger audience to pass along information to, but to connect & recognize our partners on a local, regional, and national scale.

If you aren’t following us already, then you can find us under the handle: @ MainePTAC
FAR Council Proposes Rule Change to Limitations on Subcontracting

A quick back story to catch everyone up: the 2013 NDAA changed the way limitations on subcontracting is calculated for service and supply contracts. Just as importantly, the 2013 NDAA allowed small primes to claim performance credit for “similarly situated entities.”
Three and a half years later the SBA published a final rule implementing those changes, now codified at 13 C.F.R. 125.6. The SBA’s regulation took effect on June 30, 2016. 
For small contractors, the differences between the SBA’s updated limitations on subcontracting rule and the FAR’s outdated rules has been a source of confusion. For more than two years now, the FAR and SBA regulation have used different formulas to determine compliance, and as I explained above, the SBA rule allows the use of “similarly situated entities” on small business set-asides and 8(a) contracts. The FAR does not.
In those two years, small businesses have been left wondering which rules to follow. Does a prime contractor comply with the SBA regulation? The FAR clause? Both?  
Finally, progress is being made. On December 4, 2018 the FAR Council issued a proposed rule to update the FAR’s limitations on subcontracting provisions and for the most part conforms the FAR to the SBA’s rule.
A few points to note from the proposed rule change:
  • FAR 52.219-14 Expanded. Instead of an assortment of FAR clauses that govern limitations on subcontracting, the revised FAR proposal would consolidate the limitations on subcontracting for all small business programs in FAR 52.219-14.
  • Similarly Situated Entities. As we hoped, the proposed rule change would allow prime contractors to use similarly situated entities to meet their performance thresholds. This is great news for small businesses.
  • HUBZone Price Preference. The proposed rule would allow HUBZone firms to obtain the HUBZone price preference by subcontracting to other HUBZone businesses.

The FAR Council is currently accepting comments on the proposed rule until February 4, 2019. Public comments will be considered and a final rule should be issued later in 2019.

Of course, this remains only a proposed rule for now, and the differences between the FAR and the SBA rules still exist… but at least things seem to be moving in the right direction. For more information on what this means to you, please reach out to your local PTAC Counselor.
What We Learned

Ken, Bryan, Erin, and Katie all traveled to Washington D.C. for the 2018 Annual Fall APTAC conference in the beginning of November. While there, Katie and Bryan participated in the workshop, Teaching Your Clients how to Prepare a Proposal. It was very informative, and you can be on the lookout for workshops on this topic in the future in the Midcoast and Downeast regions after the New Year.

The conference provided information updates on CVE veteran verification, so if you are a veteran contact your PTAC counselor and see if this is something that might be good for you and your business. Information about SBIR I & II (Small Business Innovation Research) was presented so that the counselors can better assist with the process of SBIR application/submission. Another topic that will be of great help to you the client, was Marketing to Government Agencies. If you want more information about any of these topics, or for any other questions you might have, contact your PTAC counselor.
The Micro-Purchase: Your Ticket to A Successful Federal Government Opportunity

A micro-purchase is a purchase for goods or services that is for a small amount. So small that the contracting officer can pick virtually whatever company and product or service he or she wants, so long as the price is reasonable. The price below which this takes effect is known as the micro-purchase threshold.

This is good news; almost too good to be true. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act increased the micro-purchase threshold for civilian agencies from $3,500 to $10,000. In 2019, the DoD threshold increases to $10,000 as well. Federal agencies can purchase goods and services up to the threshold limits without having to go through the solicitation process. This helps the government by reducing administrative costs, promoting efficiency and economy in contracting and avoiding unnecessary burdens for agencies. It helps small businesses by giving them a way to get substantial orders without going through a lengthy competition. It can be particularly helpful to small businesses that are undecided about government contracting and help get them on the path to winning federal contracts.

The Government Purchase Card (GPC) program provides charge cards to agencies/departments throughout the U.S. Government. The card holder holds the key for the purchase of goods and services through the micro-purchase program. An “authorized individual” within a given agency or department or location of such is granted authority, in accordance with agency procedures, to acquire supplies and services in accordance with the GPC program. It is your mission, if you chose to accept it, to find that ‘authorized individual’ with the GPC in order to promote your products or services so they will work with you on their necessary purchase. A list of federal ‘cardholders’ is not available. Examples of the power of the GPC program with the new micro-purchase limits include a florist selling seasonal flower beds outside of border stations and federal buildings, auto body and mechanical work on federal vehicles, materials and labor to repair federal buildings, paper and office supply goods, food items and so much more. Talk with your Maine PTAC counselor to help identify opportunities for your business. It’s what we do.
General Services Administration

Their website describes them as follows. “GSA provides workplaces by constructing, managing, and preserving government buildings and by leasing and managing commercial real estate. GSA's acquisition solutions offer private sector professional services, equipment, supplies, and IT to government organizations and the military.” Better known simply as GSA, the General Services Administration performs a variety of functions:

  • The Public Building Service builds and maintains federal government buildings all across the country.
  • The Vehicle Purchasing Program is the mandatory source for the purchase of federal agency vehicles and offers a large selection of vehicles.
  • The Vehicle Leasing Program is a full-service, professional fleet management organization providing quality vehicles to federal customers.

Through its Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program, the US General Services Administration (GSA) establishes many long-term indefinite- delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts with commercial companies to provide government agencies access to millions of commercial products and services at previously negotiated prices. These are more commonly known as “GSA Schedules”.

Interested in learning more about or doing business with them? Please contact your local PTAC Counselor.
GSA to Host Design & Construction Industry Day
The General Services Administration (GSA) New England Region will host a two part Design & Construction Industry Day event in Bangor, Maine on Wednesday, January 23, 2019, from 10AM - 2PM at the Hilton Garden Inn, 250 Haskell Road Bangor, Maine 04401, (207) 262-0099, for all businesses (not exclusive of architect engineering firms, general contractors, subcontractor trades, and material suppliers) interested in the New U.S. LPOE Project located in Madawaska, Maine.

The proposed design development is anticipated to begin in late 2019, with construction of the Madawaska LPOE anticipated to begin in Spring/Summer 2020 and be complete by October 2022. This schedule is in anticipation of a November 2022 Madawaska-Edmundston International Bridge Replacement Project completion.

This project is defined as a New Construction project, using a collaborative Design Build Bridging approach that follows the GSA Design Excellence and Operational Excellence guidelines, the GSA Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service (P-100) 2018, and meets U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold. GSA has contracted with a Design Build-Bridging Architect who is the Owner's Design Consultant (ODC) and who will define the preliminary design and performance specifications through the equivalent of the Concept Phase and then produce the Bridging Contract Documents that must fully protect the design intent, quality and project budget. 

For more information and to register please see the FBO.GOV posting.
Client Spotlight: Custom Coach and Limousine
Starting with one mini-bus in 1988 Custom Coach and Limousine has been transporting passengers in Maine and across the country for over 30 years. Growing to a fleet of over 40 vehicles Custom Coach and Limousine is ready to meet your transportation needs no matter how big or how small. Custom Coach and Limousine is a family owned and operated Maine business. Give us a call or request a quote at the bottom of the page and we'd be happy to assist in planning your trip or provide a quote.