DIY 8(a) Certification usually means certain denial or a returned application by the SBA

As the President/CEO of Cloveer, Inc. I speak to many potential clients who are interested in becoming 8(a) Certified. I would say that 7 out of every 10 people I talk to do not and cannot qualify for the 8(a) Program due to the strict 8(a) Program requirements. Many of these individuals have tried to prepare their own application without some sort of outside assistance and learn the hard way via denial or a returned application by the SBA.

Here are a just six of most typical few reasons for a denial by the SBA we find when speaking to potential 8(a) Applicants:

  1. The 8(a) Applicant firm being found to be “Economically Dependent” by earning more than 70% of its total revenues from one single client over the periods of time measured by the SBA.
  2. The 8(a) Applicant having an “Adjusted Net Worth” that exceeds the $250,000 SBA regulatory limit that cannot be lowered without violating the SBA transfer requirements or having a spouse who is involved with the Applicant Firm whose Adjusted Net Worth exceeds this requirement too.

SBA proposes new rules for 8(a) Economic Disadvantage requirements

The SBA is proposing new rules for individuals seeking 8(a) Certification regarding economic disadvantage.

The current rule requires the disadvantaged individual to meet the following economic disadvantage requirements:

  1. Have an Adjusted Net Worth of less than $250,000 to get 8(a) Certified. Have an Adjusted Net Worth of less than $750,000 once formally 8(a) Certified for continued 8(a) Program eligibility.
  2. Have an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of less than $250,000 over the three preceding years.
  3. Have a fair market value of less than $4,000,000 (including his or her primary residence and the value of the application business) in total assets. Less than $6,000,000 once formally 8(a) Certified for continued 8(a) Program eligibility.

The real benefits of getting SBA 8(a) Certified

1. You will have access to sole source/non-competitive federal contracts with a value of:

  • $4M and under for all services related contracts.
  • $6.5M and under for manufacturing related contracts.

2. You will have access to competitive set-aside federal contracts with a value of:

  • $4M and over for all services related contracts.
  • $6.5M and over for manufacturing related contracts.

Top 10 8(a) Program Continued Eligibility Problems

1) Late or non-submission of 8(a) Annual Review documents.

The most common eligibility problem 8(a) firms encounter is either the late or non-submission of required 8(a) Annual Review documents. The SBA is required to review each 8(a) firm’s program eligibility every year on the firm’s certification anniversary date. Your local SBA office will send a request for the required Annual Review documents and information shortly before the end of your program year which contains the date that your submission is due back to your SBA Business Development Specialist (BDS). If it is not received by the due date, you will be sent a reminder and a second due date. If the information is not submitted by this second date, SBA’s rules & regulations require the SBA to start program termination proceedings against your firm. The termination process may result in the loss of your 8(a) certification. Once it is lost you cannot be certified in the 8(a) program again. Since annual reviews are done every year on your anniversary date, you should be prepared for it and comply on time.

How to determine your Adjusted Net Worth

The applicant(s) for 8(a) Certification must have an Adjusted Net Worth of less than $250,000 and total assets of less than $4,000,000 to be considered economically disadvantaged by the SBA.

What is the definition of Adjusted Net Worth?

Adjusted Net Worth = Personal Assets – Liabilities – [Equity in primary residence + ownership interest in business + IRA/Other Retirement Accounts subject to a penalty for early withdrawal].

Additionally, Total Assets = Personal Assets – IRA/Other Retirement Accounts subject to a penalty for early withdrawal.

8(a) Program Two Year Waiver Requirements

Your business must possess reasonable prospects for success in competing in the private sector if admitted to the 8(a) program.

To do so, it must be in business in its primary industry classification (NAICS code) for at least two full years (24 months) immediately prior to the date of its 8(a) application and be able to provide business tax returns for each of the two previous tax years that show sufficient operating revenues earned within the primary industry (NAICS code) in which the applicant is seeking 8(a) certification for.