SBA launches online 8(a) application

The Small Business Administration today launched an online application for the 8(a) Business Development and Small Disadvantage Business Certification programs nearly 11 months after almost canceling the project.

Stephen Galvan, SBA CIO, said that the online application project was over budget and behind on its schedule and his office was close to ending it.

But after establishing better oversight processes, the project team, which included Symplicity Corp. of Arlington, Va., which was hired in January to help fix the project, completed the Web form four months ahead of schedule and unveiled it today at the Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference in Washington.

The online application replaces a four-page form that small businesses had to fill out by hand, and attach paper documents to support its case for inclusion into the contracting program.

The application uses decision logic to screen candidates, which lets SBA employees improve the time and efficiency of reviewing documents by automatically verifying that the company submitted the correct kind of data. Each section of the application also includes its own help screens

Hector Barreto, SBA administrator, said the automated application also will save small businesses time and money when applying for the program.

The system uses Symplicity's Forms software that uses Web Services and Extensible Markup Language to submit the application to SBA and integrate with the Central Contractor Registration. Data is stored on a MySQL database and the system runs an Apache Web server on Linux, a Symplicity spokesperson said.

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