Five Things You Should Know: SBA 8(a) Program Potential for Success

SBA requires that its 8(a) Business Development Program applicants demonstrate “reasonable prospects for success in competing in the private sector if admitted to the 8(a) BD program” by meeting a number of criteria. This aptly named potential for success rule is easily one of the most common reasons for 8(a) Program application denials. But even still, it seems to be one of the least understood 8(a) application requirements out there. Below, I dig into some of the most important features of this rule with the top five things you should know.

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Five Things You Should Know: Eligibility for Small Disadvantaged Business Self-Certification

The Administration’s recent announcement that it plans to boost Small Disadvantaged Business contracting by 50% means that we may see increased interest by government agencies and large prime contractors alike in doing business with self-certified SDBs.

But my guess is that the Administration’s push will come with additional oversight, too–after all, increasing the goal isn’t worth much if the government cannot be confident that the contracts it counts toward its SDB goals were awarded to eligible entities. In my experience, many contractors check the SDB box in SAM without fully understanding what it takes to be an eligible Small Disadvantaged Business under federal contracting laws.

So before you click that box (or re-click it on your next SAM update) here are five things you should know about eligibility for self-certified SDB status.

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5 Things You Should Know: SBA’s Recent 8(a) Program Updates

SBA has been hard at work this past year updating its 8(a) Business Development Program rules and policies. And we have been doing our best here at SmallGovCon to keep you posted. Many of our blog posts focused on SBA’s monumental November 2020 “rule overhaul,” which implemented several 8(a) rule changes. But given the sheer magnitude of information in that final rule, it is pretty easy to lose track of which updates might affect you, as a potential 8(a) applicant or current 8(a) participant. There were also some pretty important changes to the 8(a) Program just prior to and subsequent to SBA’s November 2020 final rule.

Suffice it to say, there is a lot to process! So, we thought a quick summary blog on some of the most significant changes to the 8(a) Program of late might help you in that endeavor. Without further ado, here are five things you should know about SBA’s recent 8(a) Program updates.

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5 Things to Know About an 8(a) Bona Fide Place of Business

Eligibility to bid for construction contracts in the 8(a) program can be a maze to navigate for small businesses. The lifeblood for these companies is identifying and becoming eligible to bid for these prized solicitations. As a new 8(a) entity, or one looking to branch out, you may be wondering how to establish a bona fide place of business.

In order to qualify for construction contracts in the 8(a) program, offerors are required to have a bona fide place of business (or BFPOB) within the established geographic area. This post will walk you through when and how to request a determination from the SBA, and when to expect a decision.

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SBA Suggests Three Pages or Fewer for Social Disadvantage Narratives–But Really?

SBA guidance on Certify.SBA.Gov suggests that an 8(a) Program applicant’s social disadvantage narrative should be “three pages or less.” While we are definitely in the habit of recommending small business contractors to follow SBA’s guidance most of the time, we simply cannot climb aboard the “three-page” ship. In fact, we have significant concerns that submitting a one to three page narrative could potential “sink” your 8(a) application (at a minimum, requiring you to make extensive and time-consuming revisions later on).

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8(a) Joint Venture Fraud Allegations Lead to False Claims Act Settlement

The SBA’s joint venture rules can be strict. Mistakes like failing to update a joint venture agreement, inserting ambiguous provisions in a joint venture agreement, or relying on an expired mentor-protege agreement can be costly.

Good faith mistakes are one thing–the joint venture may lose out on a contract, but probably won’t face other penalties. But when the government believes that a contractor knowingly violated the joint venture rules, the repercussions can be much more serious–as seen in a recent False Claims Act settlement involving allegations of fraud under the 8(a) joint venture regulations.

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