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Did You Know? Services for Iowa businesses

CIRAS PTAC Team Praised by Peers for Making a Difference

CIRAS government contracting specialists have earned praised from their peers for having a tremendous impact both on the Iowa economy and on the communities where they live.

Did You Know- Emergency Management/Disaster Preparedness?

It may be hard to believe by looking outside, but Spring is nearing. And with Spring’s arrival, we often see record snowfalls become record floods. It never hurts to position yourself to be able to react and respond accordingly. While several agencies assist the public in disaster response and recovery efforts, they cannot do it without help from Iowa businesses.

Did You Know… About the SBA Surety Bond Guarantee Program?

Surety bonds help small businesses win construction, supply, and service contracts by providing the customer with a guarantee the work will be completed. Many contracts require surety bonds, which are offered by surety companies. Becoming bondable is like applying for bank credit. The requirements include a review of the technical and managerial ability, financial statements, and credit resources of the small business. Small businesses often struggle to meet some (or all) of the minimum qualifications.

Did you know there is a program to help small businesses get started with bonding or increase their current bonding capacity? 

Did you know… What a Purchasing Consortium is?

If not, you might be missing important contracting opportunities. Many state and local organizations use purchasing consortia to obtain goods and services.

A purchasing consortium – also referred to as cooperative purchasing, or a “GPO” (Group Purchasing Organization) – is a mechanism by which multiple organizations with similar purchasing needs band together to better leverage their buying power and achieve more favorable terms and pricing from vendors. Such consortia also reduce the workload for their members by eliminating duplication of effort in issuing solicitations and managing contracts for the same good/service.

Did you Know…?: Hurricane Disaster Contracting

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is forecasting a 35% chance of above-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic for the 2018 hurricane season (June 1 – November 30).  The disastrous 2017 hurricane season had companies scrambling to position themselves for a piece of the “recovery” pie.  

Did You Know? – Week of Dec 15: Reflection, Goals, and Onward!

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is rapidly coming to a close. In a few weeks, we will be celebrating the New Year!

Do you ever take time to reflect on your successes and failures? I encourage you, during this month, to think back to goals you set for 2018. Did you achieve them? Did you fall short? What lessons have you learned?

Did You Know? Elevator Speeches Matter

At most meetings, conferences, and networking events people are asked to introduce themselves and talk about their company.  This is their time to shine – it’s like free advising!  But because they are uncomfortable or have trouble explaining what they do or sell, they miss a perfect opportunity to position themselves for success.  The answer to this is to have a prepared elevator speech.

Did you know? … About NAICS

The North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS (pronounced “Nakes”), was developed under the direction and guidance of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It’s the standard way that federal statistical agencies classify business establishments for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of statistical data describing the U.S. economy.

Did You Know?… FedBizOpps is going away

FedBizOpps currently is the federal government’s website ( for posting all procurement opportunities with a value of more than $25,000.

By the end of next year, it will disappear. The system, along with several other government acquisition systems managed by the General Services Administration, are gradually being rolled into one new site. 

DID YOU KNOW?… Federal Agencies use the SPA

No, this isn’t an article about spring water or hot tubs!  “SPA” stands for “Simplified Purchase Agreement,” a method of purchasing set up by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and available to use by various federal agencies for their printing needs.  As an alternative to relying on the GPO for soliciting their opportunities, agencies typically find SPA procedures to be more relaxing (see what I did there?).

Did you know?… How to Sell to Iowa Public Schools

Have you ever thought of selling your goods and services to an Iowa public school system?  A lot of money is spent in education, and districts take their spending responsibilities very seriously. There are 367 school districts throughout Iowa. Selling to a school district may be a potential opportunity for your company, but first you need to know your customer.  

Did You Know?… The Benefits of Research

Whether you’re new to government contracting or an old pro, you can never underestimate the benefits of good old-fashioned research. Here’s a few tips on how to best approach your research strategy to find and win the right government contracts.

DID YOU KNOW?: Building Relationships While Prospecting for Business

There are many things affecting your business that you can’t control. Did you know that your personal attitude is something you can control? Your attitude affects the way you approach people and circumstances in business. Choosing to approach potential customers positively, confidently, enthusiastically, and with a helpful attitude – even when you’re tired, stressed, or frustrated – may help improve your sales and grow your business.

Did you know?… How to Sell to Iowa Public Schools

Summer is ending, which means parents everywhere are beginning to shop for Back To School. Have you ever considered what may be on the school’s shopping list?

Did You Know?…. Contracting with Local Governments

One key market for selling your products/services involves local governments – the host of towns, cities, and counties located throughout Iowa.

Normally, the first step in doing business with local governments is to contact the municipal clerk, the county auditor, or the city Procurement Office/county Purchasing Department. This can be accomplished by personally visiting their offices to learn about their bid opportunities. If that’s not practical, you can research their websites for notices and submit your bid online/email. Or, you can simply email your company capability statement to each government’s Point of Contact (POC). 

Did You Know?…. The DUNS® Number Is On Its Way Out

If you’ve done any work in with the federal government (either as a vendor or grantee) you most likely have been required to register for a proprietary DUNS number through Dun & Bradstreet. The DUNS number, which was created in 1962, has been the official verification number for entities to register with the Federal Government since 1998 (once it was codified by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, aka FAR).

DID You Know…the Three Steps to Government Contracting?

The government contracting journey can be very challenging. Companies have to do their homework and not rest on the notion that, if they are registered on SAM or state/local agencies, they will be “discovered” by government customers. The registration system is a useful tool for a government agency to conduct market research, bid notifications, etc. But this is NOT a game of, “They’re supposed to buy from us because we’re a set-aside, a TSB, etc.”

Government Contracting: Tips for Surviving the Shutdown

Over the weekend, the partial government shutdown passed into record-setting territory in terms of length. The CIRAS PTAC staff knows that this likely is causing some elevated blood pressure among clients which existing government contracts, and we’d like to do what we can to help.

So how worried should you be?

How to Create Your Own Elevator Speech

A quick, easy way to create your elevator speech is to review your capability statement, drawing ideas from your core capabilities and differentiators. Or you could perform the following steps:

Sept. 26 is National PTAC Day to celebrate GovCon success

For 33 years, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) have helped expand the number of small businesses that successfully compete for and win federal, state, and local government contracts. This month, PTACs from around the country are coming together for one special day to celebrate the success of the tens of thousands of small businesses who have benefitted from training and technical assistance delivered by their local PTACs.

STAFF NEWS: Justin Niceswanger is a Government Contracting Specialist

Justin Niceswanger has joined CIRAS as a government contracting specialist with the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). He will be based out of a CIRAS office in Clive and will serve business owners who are located inside the city of Des Moines.

STAFF NEWS: Samantha Ferm is a Government Contracting Specialist

Samantha Ferm has joined CIRAS as a government contracting specialist with the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). She will be based out of Iowa City and will serve the southeast portion of the state.