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SBA Certifications and the GSA Program


SBA Set-Asides The GSA Schedule Program

TL;DR -- The Small Business Administration (SBA) Set-Asides and the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule Program work together to help small businesses compete for and win federal contracts.

SBA offers several certifications, like the 8(a) Business Development Program, HUBZone, Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB), and the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program (SDVOSB), to assist specific businesses in this arena.

The GSA Schedule Program, on the other hand, streamlines procurement for government agencies, ensuring fair pricing and providing a wide range of products and services. It benefits vendors by granting access to the federal marketplace, offering long-term contracts, and increasing visibility. When these two programs are combined, they create an efficient system that not only simplifies procurement but also promotes the growth of small businesses nationwide.

The Relationship Between SBA Set-Asides and the GSA Schedule Program

GSA Focus is here to provide you with information on how the Small Business Administration (SBA) Set-Asides interact with the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule Program.

SBA Certifications

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several certifications intended to assist specific types of businesses in obtaining federal contracts. Here’s a summary of the key certifications:


  • 8(a) Business Development Program: This program helps small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace. Businesses owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals may qualify. The program offers a 9-year certification during which businesses receive business development support, mentoring, and the opportunity to bid on set-aside contracts.


  • Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Program: This certification is intended to stimulate economic growth in historically underutilized business zones. To qualify, a small business must maintain its principal office in a designated HUBZone and 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone.


  • Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program (WOSB): This program aims to expand the number of industries where women-owned small businesses can compete. To be eligible, a firm must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens. The business must also meet the SBA’s size standard for its primary industry.


  • Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB): A subset of the WOSB program, this certification targets women-owned businesses operating in industries where women are underrepresented, and where the owners are economically disadvantaged. Eligibility requirements are similar to the WOSB program but with additional criteria based on the personal net worth and income of the woman business owner.


  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program (SDVOSB): This program is designed to provide contracting opportunities for small businesses owned by veterans who have a service-related disability. To qualify, a service-disabled veteran must own and control at least 51% of the business, and must have a service-connected disability as determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense.


  • All Small Mentor-Protégé Program (ASMPP): While not a certification in itself, this program enhances the capability of small businesses to compete for federal contracts by partnering them with larger firms for mentorship. Both the mentor and the protégé benefit in terms of business development and the ability to compete for contracts.


These certifications and programs are all designed to help a diverse range of small businesses access opportunities within the federal marketplace. For further detailed information about each program and the certification process, you can visit the official SBA website.


The GSA Schedule Program

The General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule Program, also known as the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Program, is a long-term government-wide contract that provides federal, state, and local government buyers access to more than 11 million commercial supplies and services.


The main purposes of the GSA Schedule Program are:


  • Streamlining the Government Procurement Process: The GSA Schedule Program simplifies the procurement process for government agencies. It provides a single contract through which agencies can access a wide range of products and services, reducing administrative costs and shortening procurement lead times.


  • Ensuring Fair and Reasonable Pricing: The GSA negotiates fair and reasonable prices on behalf of the government, saving agencies the effort of doing so individually. Prices are pre-negotiated, which reduces the risk of excessive pricing.


  • Providing a Wide Range of Commercial Products and Services: Through the GSA Schedule Program, government buyers have access to a vast array of commercial products and services, including IT products, professional services, security products, and much more.


For vendors and contractors, the GSA Schedule Program offers the following benefits:


  • Access to the Federal Marketplace: Vendors on the GSA Schedule gain access to the massive federal marketplace, which includes all federal agencies, state and local governments, and even some international organizations. This allows vendors to broaden their customer base and increase their business opportunities.


  • Long-Term Contracts: GSA Schedules are long-term contracts (a 5-year base with three 5-year options), providing vendors with a stable source of potential revenue for many years.


  • Ease of Order Placement: Government buyers prefer GSA Schedules because they simplify the buying process. This makes it easier for them to place orders with GSA Schedule holders, which can lead to more business for vendors.


  • Increased Visibility: Being on a GSA Schedule increases a vendor’s visibility among government buyers. All GSA Schedule contracts are listed on GSA Advantage!, an online shopping and ordering system that federal agencies use to purchase products and services.


It’s important to note that obtaining a GSA Schedule contract requires a considerable investment of time and resources, and vendors must meet specific criteria to be eligible. However, for many businesses, the benefits outweigh the initial investment.


How SBA Certifications relate to the GSA Contract Program

At its core, the GSA Schedule Program is a mechanism for government agencies to procure goods and services from commercial vendors efficiently. It simplifies the procurement process, reducing lead times, administrative costs, and paperwork, thereby offering a streamlined way for government agencies to acquire what they need.


The SBA Set-Asides, on the other hand, are part of an initiative designed to help small businesses compete for and win federal contracts. These set-asides essentially ‘reserve’ a portion of federal contracts for competition among small businesses only, promoting their growth and participation in the federal marketplace.


As outlined above, the SBA set-aside categories (or certifications) include: Small Business, Women-Owned Small Business, Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, HUBZone Small Business, and 8(a) Business Development Program participants. This ensures that a diverse range of small businesses have opportunities to compete for and receive federal contracts.


In terms of their relationship, the GSA Schedule Program incorporates SBA Set-Asides within its structure. The GSA allows federal agencies to set aside orders and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for small businesses under the GSA Schedule Program. This means that a federal agency can designate a procurement as a small business set-aside, which reserves that contract opportunity for small businesses within the GSA Schedules.


In essence, the GSA Schedule Program and the SBA Set-Asides work in harmony, combining the efficiency and ease of the GSA Schedules with the development objectives of the SBA Set-Asides. This combination not only helps to streamline procurement for government agencies but also fosters the growth of small businesses nationwide.


I hope this sheds light on the synergy between the SBA Set-Asides and the GSA Schedule Program. If you have further queries or require additional clarification, feel free to get in touch.


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