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GAO discussed the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8(a) Minority Business Development Program, focusing on SBA progress in: (1) requiring the competitive award of high-value 8(a) contracts; (2) distributing 8(a) contracts to a larger number of firms; (3) ensuring that firms rely less on 8(a) contracts as they move through the 8(a) program; and (4) graduating from the program firms that have demonstrated that they can survive without 8(a) contracts. GAO noted that: (1) while the dollar amount of 8(a) contracts awarded competitively during fiscal year (FY) 1995 increased over FY 1994, the percentage of contract dollars awarded competitively remained at about 19 percent; (2) SBA revisions closed a major loophole that allowed the use of indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts to avoid competition; (3) although SBA made several efforts to more widely distribute 8(a) contracts, the concentration of 8(a) program dollars to relatively few firms continued in FY 1995; (4) during FY 1995, a larger percentage of 8(a) firms in their final year of the program achieved the required level of non-8(a) business than was reported for previous years; (5) during FY 1995, SBA graduated 3 firms from the 8(a) program, the first graduations in the program's history, and terminated another 160 firms for various reasons, and 250 firms left the program; (6) during FY 1995, SBA approved 885 8(a) applications; and (7) SBA provided management and technical assistance to 8(a) firms through its 7(j) program.

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