SBA 8(A) Certification
The SBA administers two particular business assistance programs
for small disadvantaged businesses. These programs are the
8(a) Business Development Program (“8(a)”) and
the Small Disadvantaged Business Certification Program (“SDB”).
The 8(a) program offers a broad scope of assistance to socially
and economically disadvantaged firms whereas the SDB certification
strictly pertains to benefits in federal procurement. If a
firm becomes 8(a) certified, they are automatically SDB certified
as well. In contrast, if a firm becomes SDB certified, they
are not 8(a) certified.
A business enterprise meets the basic requirements for admission
to the 8(a) Business Development program if it is a small
business which is unconditionally owned and controlled by
one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals
who are of good character and citizens of the United States,
and which demonstrates potential for success. This certification
is geared more for socially and economically disadvantaged
individuals as defined in the Small Business Act.
Program participation is divided into two stages: the developmental
stage and the transitional stage. The developmental stage
is four years and the transitional stage is five years. Participants
are reviewed annually for compliance with eligibility requirements.
General requirements for 8(a) Certification include the following:
The SBA 8(a) program is a nine year program. A firm may only
be certified once under the 8(a) program. During the first
4 years of this program, firms are in a developmental stage
or growth stage; for the next 5 years, firms are in a transitional
stage. The 8(a) program is SBA’S effort to promote equal access
for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to
participate in the business sector of the nation’S economy.
The SBA requires certification of SDBs in order for them
to become eligible for special bidding benefits when federal
contracts are first put out for bidding. Under the government’S
reformed affirmative action rules, SDB certified firms are
eligible for price evaluation adjustments of up to 10% when
bidding on federal contracts in certain industries. The program
also provides evaluation credits for prime contractors who
achieve SDB subcontracting targets. The program is intended
to help federal agencies achieve the government-wide goal
of 5% SDB participation in prime contracting.
The SBA undertakes an extensive effort to provide contracting
opportunities for those businesses that become certified under
their 8(a) program. The SBA maintains close contact with various
federal agencies to keep government personnel informed of
the 8(a) program goals and procedures and to request that
contract opportunities be reserved for the 8(a) program. In
actuality, there are some federal contracts that are set aside
so that only 8(a) certified or SDB certified firms can bid
on them. There are other cases where federal contracts are
awarded to 8(a) firms without being put out for open bidding.
These are called sole source contracts.