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The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (DBE) is a legislatively mandated U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) program that applies to federally-funded/assisted contracts issued by DOT recipients such as State Transportation Agencies. The DBE program was established in order to: (1) ensure nondiscrimination in the award of and administration of DOT-assisted contracts; (2) help remove barriers to the participation of DBEs in DOT-assisted contracts; and (3) assist the development of firms that can compete successfully in the marketplace outside of the DBE program.
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We often hear about companies in year 5 (or later) of their 9-year 8(a) BD program term voluntarily withdraw from the program and/or express unhappiness with the program because they haven't yet received an 8(a) contract. More often than not, this situation is a result of a misconception on the firm's part that once in the 8(a) program, Federal contracts will just miraculously fall into their lap. The reality is that getting an 8(a) sole-source contract requires a lot of time and effort on the part of the 8(a) firm. This blog post will provide a general overview of the various paths to an 8(a) sole-source award.
As many of our readers are aware, the SBA proposed regulatory changes last year which purport to make it more difficult for individuals to gain entry into the SBA's 8(a) Business Development program if the individual is not a member of one of the "presumed groups." Specifically, these changes were proposed in response to a number of SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals cases which the SBA felt allowed individuals to establish social disadvantage despite having (in their opinion) a record which lacked sufficient evidence supporting a discriminatory basis for such misconduct. As of today, the SBA has not yet issued a Final Rule (it is anticipated by the end of this month); however, we were surprised to learn (based on an application we are working on) that the SBA has already implemented these changes with respect to the processing of 8(a) applications.
On February 9 - 10, 2016, the National 8(a) Association held its annual winter conference in Orlando, Florida at the Caribe Royale Hotel. As usual, the conference was well attended by representatives of both industry and government. Attendees were treated to informative general sessions, a wide variety of breakout sessions, and numerous opportunities to network with other businesses, consultants and government representatives. Unfortunately, the weather was not as warm as some of us may have liked, but it was still a great conference.
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