July 1, 2024

SBA Is Upgrading Its Certification System: What Small Business Government Contractors Need to Know

Holland & Knight Government Contracts Blog
Leila S. George-Wheeler | Amy L. Fuentes
Government Contracts Blog

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on Aug. 1, 2024, is beginning a system upgrade to its certification portal that will impact the following socioeconomic set-aside program certification programs:

  • Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
  • Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB)
  • 8(a) Business Development Program (the 8(a) Program)
  • Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB)
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)
  • Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Program

Applications to these programs submitted before Aug. 1, 2024, will be processed in the order received, but during this upgrade period, new applications to these six programs will not be accepted.

Small business contractors applying to these programs should be aware that it is anticipated the system will be down for new applications between Aug. 1, 2024, into early September 2024. The SBA has issued guidance encouraging new or prospective applicants to wait until after the upgrade is completed to apply.

While most firms that are already certified will not be impacted by SBA's system upgrade (and pause in processing new applications), firms needing to renew their respective certifications should reach out to their respective programs to receive guidance soon. Program annual reviews and evaluations will also not be accessible during the certification portal pause, including SBA Mentor-Protégé Annual Evaluations.

Firms facing critical contracting deadlines with pending applications should be proactive and consider reaching out to the SBA at certifications@sba.gov with information related to the specific set-aside procurement to try and help expedite an application.

From a practical standpoint, the SBA is working hard to close out pending applications and clear its backlog on the existing platform, in advance of the Aug. 1 system upgrade. This could certainly work to the benefit of concerns awaiting action on pending applications. However, concerns currently engaging with the SBA on pending applications for any of these six programs should prioritize timely responses to any SBA inquiries or communications to help ensure applications are not denied or closed out. Once an application has been closed out on the existing platform, applicants may have to start from scratch and complete a new application.

Holland & Knight's Government Contracts Group is here to assist on any questions and small businesses should feel free to contact the authors as we continue to closely monitor new developments and forthcoming guidance from the SBA.

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