Defense Logistics Agency and Small Business
By Leslie McMillan
Small businesses throughout the United States have some great opportunities for government contracts through an enormous federal entity known as the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). Even if that particular option does not seem like the right fit for your business, consider that the DLA oversees a nationwide network of local Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) that can assist with information, preparation, registration, certification, and other aspects of the contracting process with local, state, and federal government agencies.
This Small Business Exchange Northeast article is based directly on descriptions that you can find on the DLA website. We encourage you to read this article for several pieces of relevant information, and also to visit the DLA website for more thorough explanations. You might be surprised by what you learn and how it could apply to your business development and growth—either in the near future or at a later time when you and your business are ready.
History of the DLA
The origins of the Defense Logistics Agency date back to World War II, when America’s huge military buildup required the rapid procurement of vast amounts of munitions and supplies.
After the war, a presidential commission headed by former President Herbert Hoover recommended centralizing management of common military logistics support and introducing uniform financial management practices.
Integrated management of supplies and services began in 1952 with the establishment of a joint Army-Navy-Air Force Support Center to control identification of supply items. For the first time, all the military services bought, stored, and issued items using a common nomenclature. For more information, please see this official DLA history web page.
DLA Small Business Programs
Small businesses provide critical resources that contribute to the DLA’s mission. The DLA is committed to providing all categories of small businesses an opportunity to participate in DLA acquisitions. The website contains information to inform and educate small businesses about DLA requirements and procurement practices whose mission is to “Support the Warfighter.” DLA is the Department of Defense’s (DoD) largest combat support agency. It provides worldwide logistics support in both peacetime and wartime to America’s military services as well as civilian agencies and foreign countries.
The DLA is looking for small businesses to provide the goods and services they buy! DLA needs capable Small Businesses (SB), Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB) and 8(a)s, Historically Underutilized Business Zone Small Businesses (HUBZone), Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB), and Veteran-Owned (VOSB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB).
Are you new to working with the government? New to working with DLA? Just looking for a place to get started? Learn the basics with the Small Business Overview for Vendors. The overview details what DLA is, what DLA buys, and how the federal government buys goods and services. Find out what programs your business might be eligible for and the steps and systems needed to become registered to do business with DLA. Also learn how to find current DLA and other federal government business opportunities, as well as where to turn if you need help.
For more details and useful links, visit the DLA Small Business Programs web page.
Procurement Technical Assistance Program
The Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) was established to expand the number of businesses capable of participating in government contracts. The program is administered by DLA's Small Business Programs in cooperation with states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations. Under the program, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) help businesses pursue and perform under contracts with the Department of Defense, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and government prime contractors. Most of the assistance the PTACs provide is free.
PTAC support to businesses includes registration in systems such as the System for Award Management (SAM), identification of contract opportunities, help in understanding requirements, and in preparing and submitting bids. Read reviews from businesses about the support they received from the PTACs.
The PTACs have a local presence in all fifty states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Other PTACs specialize in assistance to federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities, their members, and reservations throughout the country. You can find your nearest PTAC on this interactive map or on this list.
The PTACs are funded through cost sharing cooperative agreements between the DLA and eligible program participants, including states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations. Watch this video to see how PTAP connects business to government, and visit the PTAP web page.
Subcontracting can be a great way for small businesses to get started in federal contracting. To promote small business participation in larger contracts, congress enacted Public Law 95-507 requiring all contractors, other than small businesses, receiving federal contract awards over $700,000 ($1,500,000 for construction) to submit acceptable subcontracting plans prior to contract award. Subcontracting plans must specify goals and demonstrate contractors' best efforts to subcontract to small, small disadvantaged, HUBZone, service-disabled veteran-owned, and woman-owned small businesses. The subcontracting program creates real opportunities for small firms.
To be eligible as a subcontractor, a concern must represent itself as a small business, veteran-owned small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, HUBZone small business, small disadvantaged business, or woman-owned small business concern.
See the DLA Subcontracting web page for additional details and links, including the Department of Defense Office of Small Business website.
The DLA Office of Small Business Programs website has many more topics and submenus than we have highlighted in this article. Please take some time to explore these resources and discover potential assistance and opportunities for your business. You might be surprised!
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