WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has today issued interim guidelines pertaining to the 8(a) Business Development Program. This comes in response to a recent ruling in the case of Ultima Services Corp. vs Department of Agriculture by the United States District Court, which impacts the program’s process for determining social disadvantage.

    The revised interim guidelines for participants and applicants of the 8(a) Program are now available on the SBA’s website. In collaboration with the Department of Justice, the SBA is also providing federal agencies with comprehensive interim guidelines on how to continue issuing 8(a) contract awards during this crucial acquisitions period at the fiscal year’s end.

    SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman highlighted the 8(a) Program’s over 50-year history of facilitating access to U.S. government contracts for thousands of small businesses. These businesses, in turn, provide vital products and services that support agency missions. Guzman emphasized the SBA’s commitment to promoting equity in federal procurement, attracting a diverse supplier base, and ensuring competition, innovation, and performance. She affirmed that the SBA and Biden-Harris Administration remain dedicated to supporting the 8(a) Program and small business owners who contribute significantly to America’s robust economic growth.

    The 8(a) Program, a comprehensive nine-year initiative, aims to help firms owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals expand their presence in the federal marketplace through training and technical assistance. This program has received wide bipartisan support, with Congress repeatedly directing the SBA to continue the program across multiple presidential administrations.

    In 2021, President Biden set a goal to award 15% of federal prime contracting to small disadvantaged businesses by fiscal year 2025. This represents a 50% increase from spending on these businesses at the start of his term. The 8(a) Program has significantly contributed to achieving this goal – under President Biden, federal agencies have reached record spending levels on contracts with small businesses overall, and with small disadvantaged businesses specifically. The federal government’s small business prime contracting program supported the creation of 727,800 jobs nationwide in fiscal year 2022 alone.

    Regarding the case of Ultima Services Corp. vs Department of Agriculture, on July 19, 2023, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee issued a ruling that affects the application process for determining eligibility for SBA’s 8(a) Program.

    All current participants in the 8(a) Program will receive direct communication from the SBA detailing any additional information required for continued Program participation. Potential participants who have begun their 8(a) applications can continue working on them but may need to make changes in the future. If changes are necessary, the SBA will provide clear instructions. Those who have not yet started their 8(a) applications are advised to wait until the application reopens.

    The Court has scheduled a hearing for August 31, 2023, after which the SBA may issue further updated guidance as necessary.

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