The 8(a) Business Development Program is a business assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses. It offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
The 8(a) Program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. The program helps thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in government contracting. Participation in the program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage.
Participants are eligible to receive sole-source contracts up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. American Indian and Alaska Native Corporations have the ability to negotiate contracts without this ceiling limit, and can have more than one 8(a) certified company.
8(a) firms are also able to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances the ability of 8(a) firms to perform larger prime contracts and overcome the effects of contract bundling, the combining of two or more contracts together into one large contract. Also, see the Mentor-Protégé Program for more information on allowing starting 8(a) companies to learn the ropes from other more experienced businesses.
The overall program goal is to graduate 8(a) firms that will go on to thrive in a competitive business environment. The SBA works to make sure 8(a) firms are on track to accomplish their goals and are following requirements. SBA district offices monitor and measure the progress of participants through annual reviews, business planning, and systematic evaluations. In addition, 8(a) participants may take advantage of specialized business training, counseling, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development provided by the SBA and our resource partners. Firms may also be eligible for assistance in obtaining access to surplus government property and supplies, SBA-guaranteed loans, and bonding assistance for being involved in the program.
Exemption from Competitive Thresholds (Code of Federal Regulations 13 Section 124.506.4(b))
Tribally owned 8(a) certified companies are not subject to no dollar thresholds on sole source 8(a) contracts. The Code of Federal Regulations 13 Section 124.506.4(b), Exemption from Competitive Thresholds for Participants Owned by Indian Tribes, states;
SBA may award a sole source 8(a) contract to a participant concern owned and controlled by an Indian tribe or an Alaska Native Corporation where the anticipated value of the procurement exceeds the applicable competitive threshold.