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SBA policy decision improves ability to include socially, economically disadvantaged small business

Huntsville Center Public Affairs
Published Aug. 27, 2021
A decision by the Small Business Administration to immediately suspend a requirement for construction contracts is a boon to the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s ability to contract with 8(a) companies.

A decision by the Small Business Administration to immediately suspend a requirement for construction contracts is a boon to the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s ability to contract with 8(a) companies.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- A decision by the Small Business Administration to immediately suspend a requirement for construction contracts is a boon to the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s ability to contract with 8(a) companies.

The 8(a) program is an SBA business development agenda to help companies with socially and economically disadvantaged ownership gain equal access to the resources needed to develop competition in the American Federal Procurement Process.

As it currently reads, the Small Business Act requires that, to the “maximum extent practicable, construction subcontracts awarded by the Administration pursuant to this subsection shall be awarded within the county or State where the work is to be performed.”

However, Bibi Hidalgo, the associate administrator for SBA’s Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, announced during her keynote address at the National 8(a) Association Alaska Regional Conference that SBA will be suspending the “bona fide place of business” requirement for 8(a) construction contracts, effective immediately.

“I am excited to announce today, for the first time, a new SBA policy that will help to bolster small businesses against the adverse effects of the pandemic, she said. “SBA will temporarily suspend the bona fide place of business requirement for all 8(a) construction firms.”

Betty Guillot, Huntsville Center Office of Small Business Programs specialist, said the suspension is extremely beneficial to programs under the Center’s Installation Support and Programs Management directorate.

“Two factors make a bona fide place of business (or BFPOB) extremely restrictive and virtually impossible for an 8(a) construction firm to propose on Huntsville Center construction contracts (primarily Medical Repair and Renewal and Facility Repair and Renewal programs) under the prior requirement because Huntsville Center has no geographical boundaries, and Huntsville Center’s acquisitions are primarily Multiple Award Task Order Contracts and places of performance are not defined at the time of award of the prime,” she said.

Guillot said since the SBA is suspending the requirement, 8(a) businesses are more competitive in the contracting award process.

“In the past, we routinely submitted waiver requests through the SBA for the BFPOB requirement,” she said. “While we were successful in doing so, it was an added pre-award acquisition step and it was never a 'given' that the waiver would be granted.”

Rebecca Goodsell, Huntsville Center Office of Small Business Programs chief, said she is extremely proud of the efforts made to ensure contracts are awarded to United States small business concerns.

“Last Fiscal Year, Huntsville Center awarded more than $800 million was to small business primes.  Those real dollars awarded to small business concerns help drive industry growth and stabilize our nation's economy,” Goodsell said.