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8(A) Program

The 8(a) program gets its name from Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act. It is a business development initiative designed to help SDBs overcome social and economic disadvantage and transition them into the economic mainstream. The 8(a) businesses are assisted through a combination of management and technical assistance and increased access to federal contracting opportunities.

While being certified as 8(a) does not guarantee a firm government contracts, it greatly enhances the participant's chances of getting them either through non- competitive award or by winning a bid. In the 8(a) process, the U.S. Small Business Administration works with federal purchasing agents and functions as a prime contractor, subcontracting work to the 8(a) firms.

The program runs for a maximum of nine years. During this time participants must complete an initial four-year development phase and gradually wean themselves away from dependence on special 8(a) contracting opportunities.

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