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Which Government Contracting Certifications Are Right for You?

Government contracting is a complex business that involves a myriad of essential factors. Certainly, your company’s qualifications and ability to perform the work for which you seek contracts is at the top of the list of priorities. However, right next to that in many cases is the question of certifications.

One of the top priorities of the federal government is to ensure that more business goes to companies that represent previously underserved, disadvantaged or hard-to-engage populations. As a result, it is essential that every government contractor diligently assess, pursue and secure any and all certifications for which it is eligible.

There are many certifications to consider, but let’s start with three of the most widely recognized ones in this article, as we get started. Doing so will help provide you with insights to determine which one(s) may be applicable to your company.

SBA Certified Small Business

Chances are, you are a small business owner. This is especially true when dealing with the federal government, whose definition of ‘small’ is probably much larger than you think. Although it’s not legally required that you certify your small business, doing so can be invaluable to your business on many levels.

Oftentimes government agencies request a percentage of procurements to be withheld specifically for small businesses. If your company is certified, it puts you in a position to compete for these specific government contracts as they become available.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA, defines a “small business” in terms of the number of employees over the past year, or average annual receipts over the past three years. Size standards vary by industry and are based on SIC or NAICS codes applicable to the different service areas in which your company does business.

Click here for more information on the SBA registration process.

8(a) Certification

If your company is a disadvantaged business, i.e. a firm that is owned and controlled at least 51 percent by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, then the SBA offers the 8(a) business development program. This program is designed to help entrepreneurs gain leverage in the government contracting industry. 8(a) certificate holders are privy to numerous sole-source contracts worth, in some cases, up to $6 million.

Additionally, 8(a) businesses are allowed to collaborate with other team ventures to bid on contracts. The 8(a) certification is divided into two phases over the course of nine years. Four years are to be focused on development and five years are set aside for the transition stage, so that certified companies ‘roll off’ the program well-positioned to achieve continued success.

Click here for details on the 8(a) registration process.

Woman Business Enterprise (WBE)

WBE certification indicates that a woman owns and controls a business. Administered by the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC), the WBE certification is not based on company size, number of employees or profitability but is rather specifically related to the presence of a female serving as majority owner and as a primary executive.

Most local, state and federal government purchasing agencies track and have programs specifically for doing business with women-owned vendor companies. They, too, rely on woman-owned companies being WBE Certified. (NWBOC)

The criteria before applying for a WBE certification are as follows:

  • A woman or multiple women must own and control at least 51.0% of the business.
  • The woman owner must serve as President or CEO (if both positions exist).
  • She must be active in daily management.
  • The owner must be a U.S. citizen.
  • The woman owner must have the ownership and officer position for at least 6 months.

Click here for more information on the WBE certification.

As we can see, certifications provide innumerable advantages to businesses who pursue those for which they are appropriately eligible. Make sure that you position your company to achieve maximum success in the federal marketplace by securing the right certification(s) for you.