The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program is the crème de la crème of federal government contracting and there is a high bar to entry for admission. Among other things, individuals that are not a member of one of the recognized groups that is automatically presumed to be socially disadvantaged must prove they were socially disadvantaged throughout their life through what is called a social disadvantage narrative. Beyond that, there are a number of other qualifications, such as being economically disadvantaged, a business’s potential for success, and evidence of good character that must also be met. 13 C.F.R. § 124.101. The process is difficult, and once an individual is admitted, they no doubt want to make the most of it.
Oftentimes, small businesses that participate in the 8(a) SBA’s Business Development Program remain in the Program for the full 9 years that the SBA allows, which culminates in the small business “graduating” from the program. 13 C.F.R. § 124.302. Sometimes, the business grows so successfully that it no longer meets the qualifications of being small, and thus is required to graduate early from the 8(a) Program. So how exactly does that happen? Read on to find out.
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).
The 8(a) Program is tremendously powerful and can be a springboard to massive success in the government contracts marketplace. But the many (many!) rules surrounding the 8(a) Program are complex, and even savvy 8(a) contractors–not to mention first-time applicants–easily can become confused.
I am pleased to announce that next week, Koprince Law LLC will publish a Second Edition of our popular GovCon Handbook on the 8(a) Program. In this revised, updated and expanded Handbook, my colleague Nicole Pottroff and I will cover the 8(a) Program’s rules in detail, including: