SBA creates program for disadvantaged vendors

SBA creates program for disadvantaged vendors

By Frank Tiboni
GCN Staff

The federal government wants to even the playing field for small businesses competing for computer and other contracts, a Small Business Administration official said.

SBA has created the Small Disadvantaged Business Program to address the exclusion of small businesses from contracting opportunities and help the government find companies capable of providing services, said Terri Dickerson, acting assistant administrator in SBA's Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Certification and Eligibility.

'Government needs to use small businesses because they often provide better price and value,' said Jean Sadler, SBA senior adviser and communications specialist in SBA's Office of Government Contracting.

SBA held a briefing last month at agency headquarters in Washington to explain the benefits of the Small Disadvantaged Business Program.

Eligible businesses will receive up to a 10 percent evaluation factor on their bid price. That means they will win the contract if their bid is within 10 percent of the fair market value and is the lowest responsible bid, Dickerson said.

The SDB program, however, does not exclude big businesses. They can receive a bonus of up to 10 percent of the contract if they exceed specified program targets and subcontract with small disadvantaged businesses, Dickerson said.

In 1996 and 1997, the Commerce Department conducted benchmark studies to determine the disparity between government contracts won by large and small businesses.

For example, while comparable-sized companies in electronic-equipment manufacturing received 7.6 percent of government contracts, small disadvantaged businesses received only 1.2 percent, Dickerson said.

'The study found disparity exists in 80 percent of procurements,' she said.

SBA in August began accepting and processing applications for Small Disadvantaged Business certification. In October, businesses that meet the criteria became eligible for the price evaluation, and prime contractors in January began receiving bonuses for subcontracting with small disadvantaged businesses, Dickerson said.

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