Portland Matchmaker Wrap-Up

The New England Regional Matchmaker that we hosted in Portland in late April was a rousing success. The organizing team and I were very happy to see so many of you in attendance.

There were a total of 185 small business registrations, out of a total of over 300 participants. The small business training sessions on Thursday afternoon were extremely well attended and the evening networking reception was packed. During the Friday session, we had some great speakers, as well as video presentations from all four of Maine’s Congressional delegation. The 31 matching tables were busy all day as were the 12 resource provider tables.

I wanted to thank all of you that participated, in any capacity, especially our presenters. Special thanks go out to our Co-Sponsors; the New Hampshire PTAC and the US Small Business Administration (SBA) as well as to our generous donors; BAE Systems, KMK Construction and the Maine International Trade Center (MITC). Extra special thanks go to our Friday speakers, Chris Averill, Regional Administrator of the US General Services Administration (GSA) and Wendell Davis, Regional Administrator from the US SBA.

Many of you, our small business clients, took important first steps at this event, to make a connection or perhaps even pursue some business. Don’t let the momentum slide, however. Follow-up with the folks that you met. Your local PTAC Counselor is ready and waiting to assist you.
Ken Bloch
Maine PTAC Program Manager
Cybersecurity Requirements

A hot topic both in government contracting and in our daily lives is cybersecurity. It’s not unusual to open a paper or turn on the television to a new report of a breach by a hacker. In 2016, 95% of breached records came from government, retail or technology industries.

In Maine, 99.3% of our businesses are considered to be “small businesses” by federal guidelines. The last thing to cross your mind between the scheduling, the ordering of product, making payroll, etc. is cybersecurity, but 43% of cyber-attacks will target small businesses. However, there is no need to hit the panic button, but there is a need to be aware of the possible threats and have a cybersecurity plan in place; especially if you plan on doing work with the federal government.

Last month, Maine PTAC Counselors attended two separate conferences and learned how to better serve businesses that are looking to address cybersecurity concerns. To learn more reach out to your local PTAC counselor or visit www.maineptac.org to find one.
Did You See the Change to the Joint Certification Program Procedure?

The Joint Certification Program (JCP) was established in 1985 to allow United States and Canadian contractors to apply for access to defense-related unclassified export controlled technical data/critical technology. Recently a client brought to my attention an issue they encountered with the JCP. DLA published a notice on February 1, this rule is already in effect and even if you read it you may still not understand it. Here is the notice:


DLA is enhancing its Joint Certification Program (JCP) registration and validation procedures. Selected National Stock Numbers (NSNs) will require additional permissions to access the associated technical data. In the event a vendor cannot access the technical data for a NSN in DLA cFolders and they have not completed the new required training and questionnaire, the vendor must submit a onetime request to jcpvalidation@dla.mil for technical data access consideration. If a vendor has completed the new required training and questionnaire, status inquiries are to be directed to DLAJ344DataCustodian@dla.mil .

This notice means that even if your company has a current JCP, there may be NSNs that you will not be able to see the technical documents for, until you have not gotten this enhanced certification. The notice doesn’t provide complete instructions but I found out through my client that after reaching out to the email provided in the notice they were sent a training slide deck and a questionnaire. There is no test at the end, but the client has to submit a certification on export compliance and complete a questionnaire agreeing they are in compliance with certain DFAR clauses.

It sounds simple, but it is a bottle neck at the moment and a lengthy approval process. My advice; if your business has JCP you should request and complete the Enhanced JCP paperwork now, before you need it to avoid missing an opportunity. 
Maine PTAC Workshops

 Did you know that Maine PTAC offers FREE workshops on a variety of subjects? These range from PTAC 101; covering what PTAC is and how they can assist you and your business, to HUBZone Certifications; learning all that might be involved with getting certified. These workshops are presented by counselors in all of the regions that we serve. Anyone is able to attend these, current clients or people that would like to learn more about selling their goods and services to the government. 

So how do you find where and when these workshops happen? Go to www.maineptac.org and you will see the heading “PTAC Workshops” on the left side of the page, when you click on that tab, you will be brought to a list of upcoming workshops and where they will be held. Once you find the one you would like to attend, click on it and it will take you to where you can sign up for that workshop. If you see one that you would like to attend but it not in your region, contact your PTAC counselor and let them know you’d like to see it in your area. They are always free to attend.

As always, if you have questions, please contact your PTAC counselor. These workshops are very helpful for you and your business and we, the PTAC counselors, are here to help you. We look forward to seeing you at our next workshop!
Follow-up is the Key to Success

Whether you just attended the New England Matchmaker event in Portland or visited with a local municipality official, proper follow up is key to your success in government contracting. There is nothing better than a face to face meeting to make a good impression and provide valuable information about you, your products and services and your company; but there is nothing worse than dropping the ball and not following up.

You must understand that agency contracting officers, prime contracting SBLOs (small business liaison officers), and your state and local government buyers talk and meet with a lot of people as part of their job. Yes, you remember them, but you are singularly focused on them. They on the other hand, may not remember you specifically. It is imperative that you stay in touch by following up periodically with emails, phone calls, and/or visits to remind them about who you are, what you do and how you can assist them in fulfilling their contracting needs.  

How many times have you picked up someone’s business card and six months later look at it and wonder; who is this person? Don’t allow your important contacts to do the same with you. Stay in touch. If you want additional ideas on how to follow up, talk with your Maine PTAC counselor. It’s what we do.
Unsolicited Proposals

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 15.602 encourages the submission of new and innovative ideas to the Federal Government. An “unsolicited proposal” is a formal process by which a written proposal is submitted independently to a Federal agency for the purpose of obtaining a contract with the Government. It is not submitted in response to a Government-initiated solicitation or program.
Unsolicited proposals allow unique and innovative ideas developed outside the Government to be made available to Government agencies for use in accomplishing their missions. Unsolicited proposals are offered with the intent that the Government will enter into a contract with the offeror for research and development or other efforts supporting the Government mission, and often represent a substantial investment of time and effort by the offeror.
Each Federal Agency has its own procedures which typically follow FAR 15.603 guidelines, but all agencies will include point-of-contact address information. For any Federal agency, just Google the agency’s name and the search term “unsolicited proposal.”
For additional information, contact your PTAC counselor.