All your hard work is starting to pay off. You submitted your 8(a) Business Development application and just received your welcome letter. Now what? We are going to start off with what your assigned BOS responsibilities are. Why? The better informed you are about their responsibilities the better decisions you can make during your tenure in the program.
First let’s start with where this information is obtained from. Every Agency has regulations that tell them what their responsibilities and obligations are. The Small Business Administration is no different. Their regulations are called Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and are available to download from their website. I would suggest that you download the SOP and keep it on hand during your time in the program.
In the SOP it states the BOS responsibilities. I am going to list them as per the SOP and I will add my own thoughts throughout. Hopefully this will give you some insight to their responsibilities and ways you can assist them in marketing.
The District Office (DO) responsibilities for 8(a) Contracting are:
BOS will maintain contact with local procuring officials to inform them of program goals, policies and procedures;
The first responsibility states that a BOS is to education procurement officials on goals, policies and procedures. You may think that this does not impact you, but it does. The more opportunities your BOS has to education contracting officials the better chance you will have in obtaining a contract.
BOS will compile and analyze internal statistical data to assist in requirements management and planning;
BOS gathers statistical data. What does that have to do with me? By analyzing procurement trends, a BOS can update their portfolio on procurement trends that may impact local 8(a) firms. For instance, an agency may decide that they are meeting their 8(a) goals in one industry and not offer any opportunities for other 8(a) firms in other industries.
BOS will look at which firms have received and those that have not received a contract. They will analyze the procurement market and look for trends. These trends allow the BOS to spend more time marketing firms that may have not gotten a contract and less time with firms that have obtained hundreds of contracts. Does that mean they will not help the firm that has received contracts? No. They will try to help everyone, but they are limited by time.
Ask your BOS how many firms they are responsible for? Each BOS will have several firms assigned to them. The actual number will vary by the number of firms in the portfolio and the number of personnel assigned to the program. These numbers vary by district office. A BOS could have 150 firms assigned to them while others may have 40 firms.
It is also important to find out if your BOS has other duties assigned to them. For example, not every BOS is allocated 100% of their time to the 8(a) program. In order to have the title BOS they must have as a minimum 51% of their time allocated to the program. The other 49% could be assigned other duties. Is this important? It could be if you feel your BOS is not responsive to your needs.
BOS will notify the procuring activity of new types of firms in the portfolio to assist in marketing those firms to the activity;
This is one area where you can help your assigned BOS. Please provide them with your updated Capability Statement and any opportunities that you have been tracking. For example, any opportunities that you have discovered on an Agency’s procurement forecast.
The best thing you can do is to explain exactly what your business does and how it is different from other businesses in your niche. The better the BOS understands your business the better they can help you.
BOS Will Contact Agencies To Identify And Reserve Requirements;
Again, this is an area that you can help your BOS. If you know of a requirement coming out, you can request a “Search Letter”. A Search letter is a letter from SBA asking a Contracting official to set-aside a requirement for the 8(a) program and ultimate your business. It is essential that you have reached out to the contracting official and discussed the opportunity before you ask SBA to do a search letter.
BOS Will Match Any Open Requirements To Specific 8(a) firms.
First let’s define an open requirement. An open requirement is a requirement where the contracting officer has not identified a specific 8(a) firm but has designated it for the 8(a) program. A BOS can recommend an 8(a) BD participate to the Contracting Officer however the ultimate decision is up to the Contracting Officer.
Ask for 8(a) Firm’s Capability Statement And Forward To Activities;
A BOS will ask for your Capability Statement upon entrance to the program. It is important to make sure that it is up to date.. They will forward your Capability Statement to a variety of contracting activities. It would be beneficial for you to ask your BOS which agencies they are going to send your Capability Statement too so that you can follow up and try to get a Capability Briefing. A Capability Briefing is more in-depth discussion of your business past performance.
Prepare Necessary Correspondence Like Search, Requirement, and Acceptance Letters To Procuring Agencies;
Because your BOS will prepare a variety of letters on your behalf, you must be sure to communicate with the BOS. You will know when a Search letter or a Requirement letter has been provided as you are the one requesting the letter to be sent to the agency. The acceptance letter is where SBA accepts a requirement on your behalf.
Regularly Verify 8(a) Firm’s Compliance With 8(a) BD Regulations.
A BOS must verify that an 8(a) firm is in-compliance every time they accept a requirement on your behalf. If you are not in compliance, then the BOS cannot accept the requirement for you and will recommend other 8(a) firms.
Most Importantly, when do eligibility compliance needs to be done?
- For each offering letter
- At the beginning of your fiscal year
- Once a year during your annual review.
- Also, anytime SBA suspects a possible problem.
So, as you can tell your BOS has a lot of requirements that they must do for you. However, this is not all of them. BOSs’ must provide matchmaking opportunities for 8(a) firms. Also, they still must market the program to the public and the federal agencies. Lastly, they provide counseling services to you and help with contract negotiation.
Also, in case you missed the linker earlier. Here is the link to SBA SOP.