Workshop to guide businesses seeking government contracts

By Gail Parsons, 1st Inf. Div. PostMay 8, 2019

Landing a government contract can go long way in ensuring fiscal security for a small business. But the process can seem daunting and the complexity will often scare people off.

Lt. Col Robert Bartruff, Mission and Installation Contract and Command commander, doesn't hide the fact that the process is complex. To help people navigate it, Fort Riley's MICC will sponsor the 2019 Small Business Procurement Day May 7 in Topeka, Kansas, to help people learn the ins and outs of bidding for government contracts.

"It is very complex," Bartruff said. "And that's why sometimes they feel overwhelmed. And that's why a lot of people shy away from it. Yes, like most things, it does look like some hard roadblocks. However, you can get over them, it just takes a little effort. Once you're clear of them, it's almost smooth sailing."

He doesn't want people to be discouraged by the work involved or scared of potential consequences if they should make a typo on a form. When dealing with a small business that makes an honest mistake, there is a high level of understanding he said.

"One objective of the U.S. Government Defense Acquisition System is not to put small businesses out of business," he said.

He understands how complex the bureaucratic process is and admits even in the MICC they don't know all the rules and regulations.

"It would be like knowing the Holy Bible, the Qur'an and the Torah -- all from memory," he said.

He wants people to know that MICC and other government agencies are there to help people maneuver their way through and the benefit is worth the patience and work.

The MICC encourages small businesses to seek the contracts because they want to increase competition.

Besides being a congressional mandate, competition helps the government obtain a fair and reasonable price for the goods and services they require, he said.

"We want to attract all the small business we can," said Anthony Tiroch, deputy to the MICC commander. "Small businesses are the backbone of the industry. And we want to make sure that the big companies, don't stomp out small business."

The procurement workshops will walk attendees through the process beginning with how to register to put in a bid for a government contract. There will also be opportunities for the business people to have one-on-one time so they can learn the needs of the government and Fort Riley.

The Small Business Administration has varying definitions for what qualifies as a small business. It can be a mom and pop operation or a company with several hundred employees. They also have social demographic goals when seeking contractors.

"We look for historically under utilized businesses," Tiroch said. "We have women-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses, disabled and handicapped businesses. We specifically look for contractors that fit those categories and we try to help them earn government contracts."

Fort Riley units work with many contractors in positions as varied as putting out the newspaper, construction, farriers and suppliers of hay to the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard horses.

Maj. David Hildebrand, MICC operations said MICC has hosted similar workshops in the past, but always in the Fort Riley area. This year they are going to Topeka, Kansas, and have invited several other government agencies including the Air Force and the Army Corps of Engineers to participate.

"We have it set up to where there's kind of a contracting 101 where folks can link up with not only the Small Business Administration, but also with the Kansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center," Hildebrand said.

Attendees can register with those organizations and get the one-on-one help they need.

Registration is required by April 30 for the May 7 event at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, 1717 SW Topeka Blvd., and can be made at