PTAP spells how-to for small biz

DLA idea has opened path into federal marketplace

An idea that took root at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) in the mid-1980s to expand Defense Department contracting opportunities for small businesses has blossomed into a nationwide network known as the Procurement Technical Assistance Program.

The Virginia PTAP at the George Mason University Enterprise Center in Fairfax, Va., advises young companies that have innovative technologies to sell to the government. It also operates 29 small-business centers throughout the state and larger regional centers in Charlottesville and Hampton Roads.

“Think of us as a one-stop shop on how to do business at various levels,” said James Regan, the Virginia PTAP director.

The organization has built an enviable record of success since it became a statewide operation in October 2005 after 12 years as a regional center. Its clients had won $88.7 million in federal contracts as of March 31 and created or retained 5,880 jobs, Regan said.

PTAP centers exist in almost all states. Their client companies won $13.3 billion in federal contracts and created about 412,000 jobs in 2004, the last year for which Regan has data.

The program has helped fill a void for federal agencies, too, said Scott Denniston, small business director at the Department of Veterans Affairs. “Who’s [available] to teach people about federal contracting and grow these companies?” he asked.

Denniston refers veterans who want to start a tech-oriented business to PTAP. “It’s been a real successful marriage from our standpoint,” he said. VA officials have visited about 35 PTAP centers nationwide in an outreach program for small businesses, federal agencies and contractors in the area, he added.

The typical company that seeks PTAP assistance may have only one or two employees. Or it could be a business that has a fair amount of commercial experience and wants to enter the federal market, Regan said. “The bulk of the companies we deal with are in the services business.”

Regan estimated that about 60 percent of PTAP’s 1,500 active clients in Virginia are involved in management consulting, information technology, communications or support services. Some have been PTAP clients almost since its inception.

Elva Fong, president and chief executive officer of Enterprise Business

Solutions, first sought out the Virginia PTAP about 10 years ago when she wanted to expand her IT management company.

Fong said the PTAP resources and counseling were so helpful that today 90 percent of EBS’ contracts come from state and federal clients, including the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Army National Guard and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Most services are free, but PTAP charges small fees for its more costly activities such as seminars.

The Virginia PTAP is funded by DLA, with money and in-kind contributions from George Mason University and the Center for Innovative Technology, a state-financed research and IT marketing facility.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.


  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group