With AED's Small Business Administration (SBA) status as a Certified 8(a) Disadvantaged Business, Government Agencies may choose to contract with AED using sole-source acquisition.
Sole source contracts are usually approved in a matter of days. Federal agencies have an 8(a) or small business program and the Small Business Representative will understand how to guide their planners and engineers through the 8(a) contract program. Because the 8(a) program is a federal mandate, federal agencies get credit for the amount of work they issue to a small business, small disadvantaged business, and 8(a) firms.
How the Program Works:
The 8(a) program is intended to benefit both the client as well as the contractor through mechanisms that ensure quality performance. Prior to acceptance into the program, the contractor is subjected to a rigorous review of its ownership, daily management, operations, experience and financial status. Only those contractors that can document disadvantaged business status and demonstrate the viability of the organization are accepted into the program. Once accepted, the contractor is required to provide the SBA with a detailed business plan that must be updated annually. Upon acceptance, each contractor is assigned Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes based on the qualifications and experience of the company and key personnel. Performance of 8(a) contracts is then limited to those SIC codes. As a company gains experience and expertise, it may request additional codes from the SBA based on documentation of this experience.
Benefits of the Program:
Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $3 million for goods and services and $5 million for manufacturing. While SBA helps 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how, the agency also encourages them to participate in competitive acquisitions. Federal acquisition policies encourage Federal agencies to award a certain percentage of their contracts to SDBs. To speed up the award process, the SBA has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with 25 Federal agencies allowing them to contract directly with certified 8(a) firms. Recent changes permit 8(a) firms to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances the ability of 8(a) firms to perform larger prime contracts and overcome the effects of contract bundling, the combining of two or more contracts together into one large contract.
One of the goals of the 8(a) program is to allow non-8(a) contractors to expand their scope of services. Therefore, the 8(a) contractor is permitted, with approval of the SBA, to subcontract a portion of this work to other qualified firms. While subcontracting is restricted to maintain the integrity of the program as an opportunity for disadvantaged businesses, subcontracting limits can be as high as 85 percent, depending on the industry. Contractors develop valuable relationships, while the client benefits from a qualified, experienced, well-rounded team.
Opportunity 1: Sole-Source Directly to AED Inc.
Any federal agency can identify work especially suited for an 8(a) firm and can set-aside the project without advertising in FedBizOpps. This allows the federal agency to directly award a professional service contract to this 8(a) firm without lengthy contracting delays. If this option is chosen, the steps typically followed are: