In addition to the on-going personal counseling services, the program offers specialized business training, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development provided by the SBA and its resource partners. Businesses may also be eligible for assistance in obtaining access to surplus government property and supplies, SBA-guaranteed loans and bonding assistance.
Moreover, recent regulations permit 8(a) companies to form beneficial teaming partnerships and allow federal agencies to streamline the contracting process. In addition, the recent rules make it easier for non-minority firms to participate by proving their social disadvantage. Specifically:
- Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $3 million for goods and services and $5 million for manufacturing. There is also a limit on the total dollar value of sole-source contracts that an individual participant can receive while in the program: $100 million or five times the value of its primary NAICS code.
- 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 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).