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.
2) Late or non-submission of annual financial statements or failure to submit required type of statement based on sales level.
Your year-end financial statements must be signed, dated and their accuracy verified by an authorized officer, partner, or sole proprietor of the concern. Firms with annual receipts of less than $2 million may submit statements prepared in-house, in accordance with “generally accepted accounting procedures” or have a compilation statement prepared by a qualified CPA or independent public accountant. Those firms with sales of more than $2 million and less than $10 million must provide reviewed statements, prepared by a qualified CPA or independent public accountant. Statements are due within ninety (90) days after the close of the company fiscal year. Those firms with total sales of $10 million and over are required to submit audited financial statements prepared by a CPA or independent public accountant. Those firms who will be submitting audited statements are allowed an additional 30 days due to the added complexity. The company’s sales figures on the Profit and Loss Statement must show the break-down of 8(a) and non-8(a) sales, if applicable. The submission of proper, year-end financial statements, (Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statements) is mandatory as a condition of 8(a) program participation, as noted in your signed 8(a) Participation Agreement. Firms who are delinquent in submitting annual financial statements are ineligible to receive 8(a) contract awards. In addition program termination proceedings may be initiated if financial statements are not received in this office by the required due date. Most 8(a) firms have calendar fiscal year end date (December 31). While the financial statement due date might correspond with the time that your accountant is doing your business & personal tax returns, there is no provision for any extensions to the financial statement submission date. Make sure that your CPA is aware of this mandatory 8(a) compliance requirement.
3) Failure to keep your BDS up to date on contact information changes, e.g. address, telephone number, e-mail address, etc.
8(a) firms must notify their BDS immediately upon making any changes to their contact information. Since they may be contacting you either via email, telephone, regular mail or certified mail, they must have accurate contact information for you. They are required by some of SBA’s regulations to use “certified mail, return receipt requested” to contact you regarding certain issues, such as Annual Reviews. Several firms have actually lost their 8(a) certification because they either didn’t notify SBA of their address change or they didn’t bother to pick up their certified mail at the post office.
Since the SBA may contact you via email regarding your Annual Review process, it is imperative that they have your proper email address and the SBA is not blocked by any SPAM filters.
4) Excessive compensation or withdrawals from the 8(a) concern.
Regarding the compensation of the owners of 8(a) firms, 13CFR 124.112 states the following:
(d) Excessive withdrawals. (1) The term withdrawal includes, but is not limited to, the following: Cash dividends; distributions in excess of amounts needed to pay S Corporation, LLC or partnership taxes; cash and property withdrawals; payments to immediate family members not employed by the Participant; bonuses to officers; and investments on behalf of an owner. Although officers’ salaries are generally not considered withdrawals for purposes of this paragraph, SBA will count those salaries as withdrawals where SBA believes that a firm is attempting to circumvent the excessive withdrawal limitations though the payment of officers’ salaries. SBA will look at the totality of the circumstances in determining whether to include any specific amount as a withdrawal under this paragraph.
Withdrawals are excessive if during any fiscal year, they exceed (i) $250,000 for firms with sales up to $1,000,000; (ii) $300,000 for firms with sales between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000; and (iii) $400,000 for firms with sales over $2,000,000. The fact that a concern’s net worth has increased despite withdrawals that are deemed excessive will not preclude SBA from determining that such withdrawals were detrimental to the attainment of the concern’s business objectives or to its overall business development.
5) Failure to meet Competitive Business Mix targets.
To ensure that Participants do not develop an unreasonable reliance on 8(a) awards, and to ease their transition into the competitive marketplace after graduating from the 8(a) BD program, Participants must make maximum efforts to obtain business outside the 8(a) BD program. During both the developmental and transitional stages of the 8(a) BD program, a Participant must make substantial and sustained efforts, including following a reasonable marketing strategy, to attain the targeted dollar levels of non-8(a) revenue established in its business plan. You should use the 8(a) BD program as a resource to strengthen the firm for economic viability when 8(a) program benefits are no longer available. During the transitional stage of the 8(a) BD program, a Participant must achieve certain targets of non-8(a)contract revenue (i.e., revenue from other than sole source or competitive 8(a) contracts). These targets are called non-8(a) business activity targets and are expressed as a percentage of total revenue. The targets call for an increase in non-8(a)revenue over time. During their transitional stage of program participation, Participants must meet the following non-8(a) business activity targets each year:
- Year 1 – 15%
- Year 2 – 25%
- Year 3 – 35%
- Year 4 – 45%
- Year 5 – 55%
The SBA will measure the Participant’s compliance with the applicable non-8(a) business activity target at the end of each program year in the transitional stage based on the Participant’s latest fiscal year-end total revenue. At the end of each year of participation in the transitional stage, the SBA will review the Participant’s total revenues to determine whether the non-8(a) revenues have met the applicable target. In determining compliance the SBA will compare all 8(a) revenues received during the year, including those from options and modifications, to all non-8(a) revenues received during the year.
Consequences of not meeting competitive business mix targets. Any firm that does not meet its applicable competitive business mix target for the just completed program year will be ineligible for sole source 8(a) contracts in the current program year, unless and until the Participant corrects the situation. The SBA may initiate proceedings to terminate a Participant from the 8(a) BD program where the firm does not make good faith efforts to obtain non-8(a) revenues.
6) Failure of the person upon whom 8(a) eligibility is based to be the highest compensated individual in the firm.
13CFR 124.106 (3) allows non-disadvantaged individuals to participate in the management of an 8(a) concern but they MAY NOT receive compensation from the applicant or Participant in any form as directors, officers or employees, including dividends, that exceeds the compensation to be received by the highest officer (usually CEO or President). The highest ranking officer may elect to take a lower salary than a non-disadvantaged individual only upon demonstrating that it helps the applicant or Participant. You must obtain the prior written consent of the Director, Office of Business Development or designee before changing the compensation paid to the highest-ranking officer to be below that paid to a non-disadvantaged individual. See your BDS for further information or if you have questions on this matter.
7) Failure of the person upon whom 8(a) eligibility is based to devote full-time management to the 8(a) concern.
13CFR 124.106 requires the following to maintain 8(a) eligibility:
(a)(1) An applicant or Participant must be managed on a full-time basis by one or more disadvantaged individuals who possess requisite management capabilities.
(2) A disadvantaged full-time manager must hold the highest officer position (usually President or Chief Executive Officer) in the applicant or Participant and be physically located in the United States.
(3) One or more disadvantaged individuals who manage the applicant or Participant must devote full-time to the business during the normal working hours of firms in the same or similar line of business. Work in a wholly-owned subsidiary of the applicant or participant may be considered to meet the requirement of full-time devotion. This applies only to a subsidiary owned by the 8(a) firm, and not to firms in which the disadvantaged individual has an ownership interest.
(4) Any disadvantaged manager who wishes to engage in outside employment must notify the SBA of the nature and anticipated duration of the outside employment and obtain the prior written approval of the SBA. The SBA will deny a request for outside employment which could conflict with the management of the firm or could hinder it in achieving the objectives of its business development plan.
8) Failure to obtain prior SBA approval of ownership changes.
A Participant may change its ownership or business structure so long as one or more disadvantaged individuals own and control it after the change and the SBA approves the transaction in writing prior to the change. The decision to approve or deny a Participant’s request for a change in ownership or business structure will be made and communicated to the firm by the Director, Office of Business Development. The decision of the AA/8(a) BD is the final decision of the Agency. A decision to deny a request for change of ownership or business structure may be grounds for program termination where the change is made nevertheless. A change in ownership does not provide the new owner(s) with a new 8(a) BD program term.
9) Failure to Perform the Required Percentage of Work on an 8(a) Contract.
To assist the business development of Participants in the 8(a) BD program, an 8(a) contractor must perform certain percentages of work with its own employees. These percentages and the requirements relating to them are the same as those established for small business set-aside prime contractors, and are set forth in 13CFR 125.6. A Participant must certify in its offer that it will meet the applicable percentage of work requirement both sealed bid and negotiated procurements. (a) In order to be awarded an 8(a) contract, the 8(a) concern must agree that:
(1) In the case of a contract for services (except construction), it will not pay more than 50% of the amount paid by the government to it to firms that are not similarly situated. Any work that a similarly situated subcontractor further subcontracts will count towards the 50% subcontract amount that cannot be exceeded.
(2)(i) In the case of a contract for supplies or products (other than from a nonmanufacturer of such supplies), it will not pay more than 50% of the amount paid by the government to it to firms that are not similarly situated. Any work that a similarly situated subcontractor further subcontracts will count towards the 50% subcontract amount that cannot be exceeded. Cost of materials are excluded and not considered to be subcontracted.
(ii) In the case of a contract for supplies from a nonmanufacturer, it will supply the product of a domestic small business manufacturer or processor, unless a waiver as described in §121.406(b)(5) of this chapter is granted.
(A) For a multiple item procurement where a waiver as described in §121.406(b)(5) of this chapter has not been granted for one or more items, more than 50% of the value of the products to be supplied by the nonmanufacturer must be the products of one or more domestic small business manufacturers or processors.
(B) For a multiple item procurement where a waiver as described in §121.406(b)(5) of this chapter is granted for one or more items, compliance with the limitation on subcontracting requirement will not consider the value of items subject to a waiver. As such, more than 50% of the value of the products to be supplied by the nonmanufacturer that are not subject to a waiver must be the products of one or more domestic small business manufacturers or processors.
(C) For a multiple item procurement, the same small business concern may act as both a manufacturer and a nonmanufacturer.
(3) In the case of a contract for general construction, it will not pay more than 85% of the amount paid by the government to it to firms that are not similarly situated. Any work that a similarly situated subcontractor further subcontracts will count towards the 85% subcontract amount that cannot be exceeded. Cost of materials are excluded and not considered to be subcontracted.
(4) In the case of a contract for special trade contractors, no more than 75% of the amount paid by the government to the prime may be paid to firms that are not similarly situated. Any work that a similarly situated subcontractor further subcontracts will count towards the 75% subcontract amount that cannot be exceeded. Cost of materials are excluded and not considered to be subcontracted.
(b) Mixed contracts. Where a contract combines services and supplies, the contracting officer shall select the appropriate NAICS code as prescribed in §121.402(b) of this chapter. The contracting officer’s selection of the applicable NAICS code is determinative as to which limitation on subcontracting and performance requirement applies. In no case shall the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) and (a)(2) of this section both apply to the same contract. The relevant limitation on subcontracting in paragraph (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this section shall apply only to that portion of the contract award amount.
10) Failure to submit SBA form 1790 Representative Report.
13CFR 124.601 requires each Participant to submit a semi-annually a written report to its assigned BOS that includes a listing of any agents, representatives, attorneys, accountants, consultants and other parties (other than employees) receiving fees, commissions, or compensation of any kind to assist such Participant in obtaining or seeking to obtain a Federal contract. The listing must indicate the amount of compensation paid and a description of the activities performed for such compensation.