Small Business Administration:

8(a) Is Vulnerable to Program and Contractor Abuse

OSI-95-15: Published: Sep 7, 1995. Publicly Released: Oct 6, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8(a) program, focusing on whether: (1) ineligible 8(a) firms have received contracts through their improper participation in the program; (2) 8(a) firms have misrepresented themselves to enter and stay in the program; (3) firms exceeding the size standard have inappropriately received 8(a) awards; (4) SBA has allowed ineligible firms to remain in the program after they exceeded the size limitations; and (5) federal contracting authorities have improperly used indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts to avoid competition.

GAO found that: (1) the two firms studied were initially recommended for nonacceptance into the 8(a) program because of eligibility questions about who actually controlled the firms; (2) SBA justification for accepting the firms was questionable, since the questions about the firms' ownership were never fully answered; (3) one firm's owner misrepresented her personal qualifications, her equity in the firm, and ownership changes, but SBA took no action when it found out about the misrepresentations; (4) the firm received millions of dollars worth of 8(a) contracts after it had grown too large to participate in the program; (5) although the firm hid its size by excluding items from its financial statements, understating its total revenue, and representing itself as a company at financial risk, it had considerable access to credit; (6) SBA allowed the firm to remain in the program and receive new 8(a) contracts even after it had determined that the firm had grown too large for continued program participation; (7) the Coast Guard awarded a sole-source IDIQ contract to the second firm by changing the contract's classification code to one for which the firm was eligible and altering the contract's original minimum value below the minimum threshold for mandatory 8(a) competitive procurements; and (8) the Coast Guard believed that competitive 8(a) procurements hindered its mission and viewed the contract as a graduation present to the firm.

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