Strategic Consulting Solutions, Inc.

8(a) Certification: The Business Development Program

The 8(a) Business Development Program was created by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the economic marketplace and gain a foothold in government contracting. The type of assistance provided is broad in scope, but gives businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs nine years of assistance (divided into 2 phases), including a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transitional stage.

The program aims to graduate 8(a) firms that can thrive in competitive business environment, as well as maintain balance between commercial and government businesses. Along with monitored progress, developmental and specialized business training, annual progress reports, counseling, and systematic evaluations, program participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. 8(a) firms are also able to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances the ability of 8(a) firms to perform larger prime contracts and overcome the effects of contract bundling, the combining of two or more contracts together into one large contract. Additionally, the Mentor-Protégé Program allows starting 8(a) companies to learn the ropes from more experienced businesses, providing invaluable marketing assistance and high-level executive development. Overall, 8(a) firms gain competitive and institutional know-how, are encouraged to participate in competitive acquisitions, and gain valuable guidance and support as they build their government contracting portfolio.


To be approved into the 8(a) Business Development program and become certified, the business must meet these eligibility requirements (read more here):

  • The business must be majority-owned (51 percent or more) by an individual(s).
  • The individual(s) must be an American citizen, by birth or naturalization.
  • The business must be majority-owned (51 percent or more) and controlled/managed by socially and economically disadvantaged individual(s).
  • The individual(s) controlling and managing the firm on a full-time basis must meet the SBA requirement for disadvantage, by proving both social disadvantage and economic disadvantage.
  • The business must be a small business.
  • The business must demonstrate potential for success.
  • The principals must show good character.
  • Separate eligibility requirements exist for a business that is owned by American Indians, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians orCertified Development Companies.

How to Apply

  1. View the SBA online course Pre-8(a) Business Development Program Module 1 – Setting Expectations to see if the 8(a) program is right for you and your firm/business.
  2. Obtain official copies of all governing documents, all of which must be current and approved by your state. Also, check with your state about business requirements. Bylaws, operating agreements, stock certificates, etc. must be signed by you, the owners, the officers, and directors. Check with your firm’s principals for the proper signatures and correct copies.
  3. Get a free D-U-N-S number from Dunn and Bradstreet. D-U-N-S numbers are required to register with the Federal Government for contracts or grants.
  4. Obtain a free Tax Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
  5. Create a profile in the Federal Government’s System for Award Management (SAM). This is required for all firms seeking to do federal contracting. SBA also requires a business profile with SAM to apply for SBA certifications, including the 8(a) electronic application.
  6. Get a free SBA General Login System user ID.
  7. Start the free 8(a) Business Development Program online application.
  • Go to the SBA General Login system.
  • Select “Electronic 8(a) Certification and Annual Review System (BDMIS).”
  • Select “Download & Print Authorization Form” and select “I Have Completed this Step.”
  • Select “Complete Required Application Forms.”
  • Complete the 1010 Form first.
  • For each form, you must scroll down and select “Update/Complete Form” and select “Verify Completeness.” This will highlight any missing data.
  • Select the “Save” button.
  • You must have green checks by each form.
  • Select “Return to Overview.”
  • Go to “Assemble Supporting Documentation.”
  • Select “Submit On-Line Input.”
  • Select “Download, Print and Sign Completed Application.” This will prompt you to “Mail the Application Package, Supporting Documents and Checklist to the SBA.”
  • Once you have mailed the documents to SBA, login and select “I have mailed the package….” This puts your application in the queue for processing so an SBAanalyst can begin the review process. Only two SBA offices receive and process applications for the 8(a) Business Development program (California and Pennsylvania).  Follow the instructions on the application carefully. For questions on where to send the application, contact

Additional Help

At Strategic Consulting Solutions, we would love to help you prepare for the 8(a) Business Development Program. As you can see, there are quite a few requirements and steps to follow prior to and during the application process. If we can make the process easier or more streamlined for you and your business, let us know. The 8(a) Business Development Program could be a great asset to your Federal Government contracting endeavors.


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