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Evaluating Small Businesses in the Federal Marketplace

Evaluating Small BusinessesA critical function of the Small Business Administration (SBA) is determining whether or not a business is actually small when a relevant party claims otherwise. Relevant parties in this case include contract offerors, contracting officers, SBA government contracting area offices, competitors, and other government officials. If a relevant party suspects that the proposed awardee is not a small business under the SBA’s requirements, that party can file a “size protest” with the responsible contracting officer. The contracting officer is required to forward the protest to SBA’s Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, which then has 10 days to make a decision. This sector of the SBA serves to maintain the integrity, efficiency and impartiality of the Federal marketplace for small businesses. These efforts of the SBA assure that small businesses have attractive opportunities within the Federal market.

The Federal government sets aside certain contract bid opportunities exclusively for small businesses. Many government agencies require that a percentage of procurements be set aside for small businesses. The SBA works with Federal agencies to award at least 23% of all prime government contract dollars to small businesses. The SBA also helps Federal agencies meet specific statutory goals for small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and small businesses that are located in historically underutilized business zones.

Small businesses that wish to take advantage of these opportunities in the Federal market must obtain proper certifications that also document special capabilities or statuses to help companies compete in the Federal marketplace. The certification of your company as a small business takes place during the registration process within the System for Award Management (SAM) database.

In SAM, you must self certify your company as a small business and specify any special statuses. When certifying your company as a small business you must meet the Federal government’s definition of a small business. To determine if your company meets the small business size requirements based on your NAICS code please refer to the Table of Small Business Size Standards Matched to North American Industry Classification System Codes. Agencies can search for your business in the SAM database based on several factors, including capabilities, size, location, experience and ownership.

To improve the competitiveness of your small business within the Federal market, register your company in the SAM database. If you would like to further the competitiveness of your small business within the Federal marketplace, becoming a GSA Schedule holder will provide your firm with additional benefits.

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