Counselors from procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs) across the country received training on the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) in a workshop conducted by The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech on Sunday, April 21, 2013.
The procurement counselors are members of the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) who are attending the Association’s four-day spring training conference in Atlanta. Of the more than 300 APTAC members in attendance at the conference, 165 opted to attend the special Sunday afternoon session conducted by the Academy.
PTACs are funded, in part, by the Defense Logistics Agency to provide counseling and assistance to businesses seeking to compete successfully in federal, state and local government contracting. Ninety-three PTACs — with over 300 local offices — form a nationwide network of dedicated procurement professionals working to help local businesses in the government marketplace.
APTAC selected The Academy to create a special four-hour educational workshop. Entitled “The Complete FAR Guide for PTAC Counselors,” the workshop provided a focused and comprehensive review of those portions of the FAR that are most pertinent to the work PTAC counselors perform to assist their clients. The workshop instruction was complemented by an 187-page manual produced by The Academy exclusively for APTAC members as well as a special web page where FAR resources are available for download.
The FAR is the federal rule book governing all acquisitions made by the government. Contracting officers from virtually every federal agency follow the FAR each time they purchase any product or service, ranging from office supplies to major military systems. Understanding these rules is essential not only for those who issue contracts but also for those who are awarded government contracts.
“We were honored to conduct FAR training for the elite corps who advise businesses about government contracting,” stated Donna Bertrand, The Academy’s program manager. “PTAC counselors are on the front lines — providing assistance to businesses, especially small businesses, nationwide.”
In designing the workshop and the printed Guide, the Academy’s curriculum development team analyzed the 2,000-page FAR and selected those portions most critical to the success of businesses engaging, or hoping to engage, in government contract work. The Academy’s team then developed training modules and materials designed to assist PTAC counselors in their work with those businesses.
“In some respects, today’s workshop followed the train-the-trainer model,” said Chuck Schadl, who serves as Vice President of Education for APTAC. Schadl is in his tenth year of service with the PTAC hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology. He collaborated with The Academy’s team to ensure that the workshop accurately addressed the day-to-day counseling issues faced by PTAC counselors. “Our objective was to provide realistic instruction and helpful tools that can be used in the everyday work performed by PTAC counselors.”
(click on photos above to enlarge images)
The Academy’s FAR workshop covered the entire spectrum of the government’s acquisition cycle — from the planning process, to contract formation, to contract administration. The workshop also provided instruction on the history of the FAR, how it is structured, and how to locate key provisions in it.
“In teaching this class,” commented instructor Kathy Cames, “I wanted the counselors to gain not only knowledge but also insights about how they can help their clients at each step in the acquisition process. For instance, there are many things a business can do to assist the government define its needs. If done correctly, this can improve a business’ opportunity to win a contract and be successful in executing it.”
In all, The Academy presented 22 specific “PTAC Tools” during the workshop — each designed to educate PTAC counselors about a specific aspect of the FAR that is especially important to PTAC clients.
At the conclusion of the workshop, each attendee was presented with a certificate of completion and was awarded 0.3 CEUs from Georgia Tech.
Click on the image below to examine the table of contents of the printed Guide which served as the outline for The Academy’s workshop: