Regulatory Update: SBA Moves to Clean Up Small Disadvantaged Business Rules

Last month, the SBA moved to edit its regulations, taking a red pen to its current rules governing Small Disadvantaged Businesses (or SDBs), as described in the Federal Register. This blog post will highlight what the new rule will mean for current SDBs—and how businesses can become eligible for SDB subcontractor status under the new rule. While the SDB program is still alive and kicking, the rules will be simplified to eliminate a lot of language that is simply no longer applicable.

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Newsflash: The Final Rule Implementing SBA Certification for WOSBs Is Here!

Update 5/14/2020: Since this post was originally published, SBA’s website has clarified when SBA Certification will be available and when Self-Certification will end. The post has been updated to reflect this information.

On Monday, the Small Business Administration will publish a Final Rule updating the certification methods for businesses applying for and participating in the Women-Owned Small Business program. The new Rule will also impose new thresholds for demonstrating economic disadvantage, impacting applicants not only for the WOSB program, but also the 8(a) Business Development program.

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SBA Area Office Double Counted Revenue in Denial of 8(a) Application, Says OHA

SBA sometimes makes mistakes in the 8(a) application process, but the appeals process may be able to remedy those miscues. Recently, an applicant appealed the SBA’s denial of her 8(a) status based on net worth. She argued that the SBA Area Office had double counted the value of her rental property, which automatically disqualified her from being found economically disadvantaged. SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) agreed and remanded the denial decision.

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SBA Denies 8(a) Status Based on Applicant’s Ability to Successfully Overcome Gender-Based Discrimination in Her Field

OHA recently affirmed the 8(a) status denial of a 100% woman-owned small business performing in the historically male-dominated renewable energy field. The applicant—who SBA called an “advocate” and “mentor” to women in the industry—detailed specific instances of gender-based-discrimination that plagued her education, employment, and career. But SBA was unmoved, instead focusing its analysis on the applicant’s triumph over these obstacles—apparently an indication that she was not socially disadvantaged in the first place. Unfortunately, this perplexing holding does fall in line with many past SBA denials of women-owned companies for 8(a) status.

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5 Things You Should Know: SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program (The Basics)

If you’re a small business owner interested in government contracts, you’ve probably heard about the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. The 8(a) Program itself is complex, but its potential benefits are tremendous. In this post, I’ll break down some of the very basics about the 8(a) Program, leaving some of its complexities for upcoming posts.

Let’s get to it: here are five things you should know about the 8(a) Program.

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Recent SBA OIG Report Reveals Continuing Concerns With 8(a) Approvals

To be eligible to participate in the 8(a) Business Development Program, an applicant firm must be a small business that is at least 51% owned and controlled by a socially- and economically-disadvantaged individual (or individuals) who are of good character and citizen(s) of the United States. The firm, moreover, must show a potential for success.

The Small Business Administration’s internal watchdog (the Office of Inspector General, or OIG) recently raised its continuing concerns regarding the admission of several entities to the 8(a) Program. The OIG’s report is worth reading, as it may lead to changes in the 8(a) Program’s eligibility criteria.

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