Business Regulation and Consumer Protection:

The Small Business Administration's 8(a) Pilot Program

Published: Sep 21, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1981.

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GAO commented on a bill that would extend the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8(a) Pilot Program for an additional 18 months. In an earlier testimony, GAO pointed out that the program had not been successful, and it concluded that the success of the program depended on the ability of SBA to have information available on the qualifications of 8(a) firms. SBA needs to know enough about procurement opportunities to judge whether a particular firm can do the job. GAO stated that these requirements could only be fulfilled if SBA had a workable system ensuring that its field personnel were being used in critical decisions regarding the selection and certification of firms and if procurement center representatives were being used to locate procurement opportunities. The Army, with a history of cooperation in offering contracts to the regular 8(a) program, was selected for pilot program participation. GAO concluded that opportunities exist to more fully test the pilot program in another agency that has been reluctant to volunteer procurements to the regular 8(a) program. The bill, which would require a nondefense agency for the pilot program, authorizes an extension of the program until March 31, 1983. GAO believes that it is important that SBA solve the problems that have been identified before further contracts are selected and awarded. In conclusion, GAO is in favor of an extension of the program provided SBA implements the changes recommended in the previous GAO report.

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