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Did You Know? Newswire Stories

Did You Know?…  Everything is Changing!

There are so many changes going on in our daily lives and things are moving at such a rapid pace, it’s hard to keep up with all of the information.

In case you missed it, here is a synopsis of the recent government contracting-related changes.

Did you Know?… Adapting to Meet Customer Needs

There is no getting around it – the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and far-reaching effect on all of us. 

The way we interact and do business has been forced to change with very little notice. One of our mantras at CIRAS is “working at the speed of the customer” because we truly do care about everyone we serve. To accommodate our unexpected new environment, we “re-calibrated” as quickly as possible to best meet the evolving needs of our clients.

Did You Know?…Woman-Owned Small Business Certification Updates Coming This Summer

Last year, the SBA advised it had some changes in the works for the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and the Economically-Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certification programs. The full scope of those changes are scheduled to be announced June 30, but they will not go into effect until 30 days after that announcement. So keep an eye out for actual certification changes towards the very end of July 2020.

CIRAS Status: Our Operations During COVID-19 Pandemic

May 27, 2020

At CIRAS, our mission is to Enhance the performance of industry through applied research, education, and technical assistance. During times of crisis, we do everything we can to continue serving Iowa industry while ensuring the health and safety of our team and your team.

In order to serve you while minimizing risk to our team and Iowa industry, we are operating with some changes to our services:

Did You Know?… Disaster Relief Contracting 

It’s time to begin thinking about spring floods and the emergency management responses that go with them.  How can your company participate in these relief efforts?  While many procurements are done by the local agencies affected by the disaster through their existing contracts, there is often a need for additional support.  Here are various ways you can position your company for opportunities during a disaster.

DID YOU KNOW?…Counties, Cities, and Competition

A few months ago, a contractor with a history of selling to the government shared with me an interaction they had with a county employee.  The conversation went something like this:

Contractor: “We’d like to have an opportunity to be considered for the next contract and be contacted the next time you go out for bids.”

County: “We’re not required to compete our orders, and we have a local provider we’re happy with.”

The response surprised the contractor.  When the contractor met with me later, they asked me: Aren’t counties required to compete their orders like they do at the state and federal levels?

Did you know…What PTAC can do for You?

For many people, opening a new calendar also means creating a new set of goals. This is the time of year when many of us resolve that we’re going to accomplish a few things that we know we need to do, such as lose weight, get healthier, and/or clean the basement.

At work, this clean-basement desire may translate into an effort to get more organized or learn about an area you don’t fully understand. We’d like to suggest that you make 2020 the year you get better informed about the world of government contracting. Are you ready to resolve that this is the year you’ll grow your company’s business with the government? If so, then the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is here to help.

How?

Did You Know?… The Rules for Gift Giving to Public Agencies

Gift giving is often a standard business practice during this holiday season.  However, you should beware if you are giving a gift to a public agency. Most states, as well as the federal government, have rules governing this practice. 

Let’s explore the law that applies to our state, which is called the Iowa Gift Law. 

Did You Know?… Subcontracting Expands your Government Sales

Subcontracting opportunities can be a lucrative avenue in the government sector, which allows businesses to participate in government contracting without dealing directly with the government.

Why subcontracting? The federal contracts that are awarded to prime contractors often come with subcontracting plans containing goals for doing a percentage of the work with small 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?… FedBizOpps is going away

FedBizOpps currently is the federal government’s website (www.fbo.gov) 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?…. 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?… 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?… 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…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.”

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.

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… 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.

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?

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? – 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?

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.

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.

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…?: 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.  

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.

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?…. 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? 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.

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:

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