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Socioeconomic Programs for Small Businesses

Small Business Set-Asides – This program requires agencies to limit competition on certain contracts to qualified small businesses so that small firms do not have to compete with large ones for the same contracts. However, because the law requires the Government to buy at competitive prices, contracts are set aside when two small businesses are expected to submit offers to ensure adequate competition. SBA establishes size standards that determine a firm's eligibility to offer on set-asides. These standards are established on an industry-by-industry basis, using dollar volume of sales or number of employees, to determine eligibility.

Small Disadvantaged Business Program – For the purpose of improving and stimulating this small business segment, EPA established a realistic Department-wide goal for the award of contracts to small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. OSBP is also responsible for the Department's program to encourage greater economic opportunity for minority entrepreneurs. To implement these requirements, goals are established for award of contracts to small disadvantaged businesses.

If your business is (a) at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged and (b) managed and controlled by one or more such individuals, you are eligible to participate under this program. Economically or socially disadvantaged individuals for government procurement purposes include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, (American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, or Native Hawaiians): Asian Pacific Americans (persons with origins from Japan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Samoa, Guam, U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Laos, Cambodia, or Taiwan, Asian Indian Americans (persons with origins from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh); and members of other groups designated from time to time by the SBA under 13 CFR 124.105(d).

8(a) Program – OSBP promotes increased utilization of small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals certified under the SBA Section 8(a) Program.

Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, as amended, authorizes SBA to contract for goods and services with Federal agencies. SBA then subcontracts actual performance of the work to socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses which have been certified by SBA as eligible to receive these contracts. The major advantage of this program is that it provides Government contracts on a noncompetitive basis to socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. SBA also offers managerial, technical, and financial support to participating firms.

The purpose of the 8(a) Program is to:

  • Foster business ownership by individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
  • Promote the competitive viability of these firms by providing contract, technical, and management assistance.
  • Expand acquisition opportunities for these firms.

To be eligible for the 8(a) Program, a concern must qualify as a small business at least 51 percent owned by a U.S. citizen who is determined by SBA to be socially and economically disadvantaged and are subject to a fixed program participation term.

Woman-Owned Small Business Program – In response to the need to aid and stimulate women's business enterprises, this advocacy program directs acquisition officials to take appropriate action to facilitate, preserve, and strengthen women's business enterprises and to ensure full participation by women in the free enterprise system. Appropriate action includes the award of prime contracts and subcontracts and counseling of women-owned businesses. "Women-owned small businesses" means small business concerns that are at least 51 percent owned, controlled, and operated by women who are United States citizens. OSBP is responsible for negotiating annual goals with EPA acquisition officials to increase Federal prime contracts with women-owned small businesses.

Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Program – Public Law 106-50 established a contracting goal for Federal agencies to award 3% of prime contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs). In addition, large Prime Contractors have SDVOSB subcontracting goals.

EPA's strategy for contracting with Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses demonstrates our commitment to maximize opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses in our Federal contracting. The strategy includes:

  • Reserving contracts exclusively for service-disabled veteran businesses;
  • Encouraging and facilitating participation by service-disabled veteran businesses in competitions for award of Agency contracts;
  • Encouraging Agency contractors to subcontract with service-disabled veteran businesses and actively monitoring and evaluating Agency contractors' efforts to do so;
  • Training Agency personnel on applicable law and policies relating to participation of service-disabled veteran businesses in Federal contracting;
  • Disseminating information to service-disabled veteran businesses that would assist these businesses in participating in awards of Agency contracts; and
  • Holding special outreach sessions for service-disabled veteran businesses.

To qualify for the SDVOSB program, a business must be a small business by SBA size standards, and it must be owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans (0 - 100% disability rating).

HubZone Program - A "HUBZone" is an area that is located in one or more of the following:

  • a qualified census tract (as defined in section 42(d)(5)(C)(i)(I) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986);
  • a qualified "non-metropolitan county" (as defined in section 143(k)(2)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) with a median household income of less than 80 percent of the State median household income or with an unemployment rate of not less than 140 percent of the statewide average, based on US Department of Labor recent data; or
  • lands within the boundaries of federally recognized Indian reservations.

To qualify as a HubZone business, a small business must meet all of the following criteria to qualify for the HUBZone program:

  • it must be located in a "historically underutilized business zone" or HUBZone.
  • it must be owned and controlled by one or more US Citizens, and
  • at least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) regulates and implements the HUBZone program. Also, SBA:  

  • determines which businesses are eligible to receive HUBZone contracts,
  • maintains a listing of qualified HUBZone small businesses that Federal agencies can use to locate vendors,
  • adjudicates protests of eligibility to receive HUBZone contracts, and
  • reports to the Congress on the program's impact on employment and investment in HUBZone areas.