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Section 8(a)

13 CFR 124

The Section 8(a) Program (started in 1968 under the authority of Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, as amended) is administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The 8(a) program allows USDA to enter into contracts for supplies and services with SBA for performance by businesses in the SBA Business Development Program. SBA then subcontracts the actual performance of the work to small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

In August 1998, through a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the Small Business Administration (SBA) granted USDA the authority to award 8(a) contracts directly to 8(a) firms. The objective of the "8(a)" Program is to help eligible small firms become independently competitive. To be eligible for 8(a) Program participation, a small business concern must be at least 51 percent owned, controlled, managed, and operated on a daily basis by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged persons.

Socially disadvantaged individuals are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identification as members of certain groups. Economically disadvantaged individuals are those socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the economy has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities. Black Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, and Asian Indian Americans have been officially designated socially and economically disadvantaged. Members of other groups must provide evidence that they are economically and socially disadvantaged. SBA determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested in the program, contact the nearest SBA office. 8(a) certified firms should also contact USDA's OSDBU and have a capability statement on file with the office. When a requirement is determined to be suitable for acquisition through the 8(a) Program, the OSDBU and the responsible procurement officials review the capability statements on file. If a firm's product or service can fulfill the USDA requirement, then the company may be asked (along with other 8(a) businesses) to make a presentation concerning its capabilities to provide the required goods or services. Normally, USDA selects one firm as a result of these presentations and asks that firm to develop a complete proposal for the project. That firm then negotiates directly with USDA.