Ways To Increase the Number, Type, and Timeliness of 8(a) Procurement Contracts

CED-78-48: Published: Feb 1, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 1, 1978.

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The overall objective of the 8(a) program under the Small Business Act of 1953 is to provide government procurement assistance to disadvantaged business owners to assist them in developing their capability to compete effectively on the open market. Small Business Administration (SBA) officials involved in the 8(a) program were contracted to obtain their opinion on how to: increase the number of federal agency contracts provided to the 8(a) program, provide 8(a) firms with more of the types of contracts needed, and provide the contracts on a more timely basis.

The officials expressed a need for more effective program development and implementation. SBA could improve the flow of contracts into the 8(a) program by: basing program goals on the firms' contractual needs, obtaining the staffing level needed to permit effective development of the SBA's portfolio of 8(a) firms, improving the management information system to provide program managers with the necessary information for effective administration, improving management and technical assistance to 8(a) firms, and establishing more definitive criteria for using business development expense funds and a national system to monitor the use of these funds. Some factors accounting for contracts not getting to firms in sufficient quantity and at the desired time were: problems encountered by some firms in obtaining necessary bonding, legislation which prevents architectural and engineering firms from obtaining 8(a) contract awards, and the limited potential for benefits from participation in the program to certain types of firms. The inability of SBA to control the supply of contracts, noted in a 1975 GAO report, is still a major problem in the 8(a) program.

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