8A Set Aside Contracts

8(a) Set Aside Contracts: A Guide for Small Business Owners

Small businesses and disadvantaged entities often face difficulties in competing for government contracts. However, there is a program designed to help these businesses, known as the 8(a) Business Development program. The program is managed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and provides a range of benefits to eligible businesses. One such benefit is the 8(a) set-aside contract, which is exclusively reserved for 8(a) program participants. In this article, we will explore what 8(a) set aside contracts are and how small business owners can take advantage of them.

What are 8(a) Set Aside Contracts?

8(a) set-aside contracts are federal contracts that are set aside exclusively for small businesses, specifically those that are eligible for the SBA`s 8(a) Business Development program. The program is designed to provide socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses access to federal contracting opportunities. 8(a) set-aside contracts are a way for these small businesses to gain a foothold in the federal market and compete for contracts that would otherwise be out of reach.

The government sets aside a portion of its procurement budget for small businesses, and a portion of that set-aside budget is reserved for 8(a) program participants. This means that when agencies are looking to procure goods or services, they will consider 8(a) participants first before moving on to other small businesses. The competition is limited to 8(a) program participants, making it easier for small businesses to win contracts.

Benefits of Obtaining 8(a) Set Aside Contracts

Aside from the competitive advantage mentioned above, there are several other benefits that come with obtaining 8(a) set-aside contracts. First and foremost, they are an excellent way to build a track record with the federal government. Winning a contract provides a small business with valuable experience and a reference that can help win future contracts.

8(a) set-aside contracts also come with several financial benefits. For example, they are not subject to full and open competition requirements, which can streamline the procurement process and reduce the costs associated with submitting a proposal. Additionally, set-aside contracts have a lower dollar threshold, allowing small businesses to compete for contracts that are a better fit for their capabilities.

Eligibility Requirements for 8(a) Set Aside Contracts

To be eligible for 8(a) set-aside contracts, a small business must first be approved for the SBA`s 8(a) Business Development program. The program is open to small businesses owned by individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Businesses must also meet certain size and business activity requirements.

Once approved for the 8(a) program, a small business must undergo annual reviews to ensure ongoing eligibility. This includes demonstrating that the business is meeting its participation goals and complying with program requirements.

How to Obtain 8(a) Set-Aside Contracts

The process of obtaining 8(a) set-aside contracts starts with registering your business with the System for Award Management (SAM). SAM is the database used by the federal government to track contractor information and is a requirement for doing business with the government.

Small businesses can also identify set-aside opportunities by regularly checking the Federal Business Opportunities website (www.fbo.gov). The site lists all government procurement opportunities, including those set aside for 8(a) program participants.

When submitting proposals for set-aside contracts, it is important to effectively communicate your business`s capabilities and how they align with the requirements of the contract. Additionally, small businesses should ensure that they are meeting all the requirements for the contract and are submitting a competitive proposal to win the contract.


8(a) set-aside contracts are an excellent opportunity for small businesses to gain a foothold in the federal contracting market. They provide a competitive advantage and several financial benefits that can help small businesses grow and succeed. However, small businesses must meet the eligibility requirements for the 8(a) program to qualify for set-aside contracts. With the right approach and persistence, 8(a) set-aside contracts can help small businesses build a track record and establish a long-term relationship with the federal government.