Leveraging Xentity’s 8(a) certified status for sole-source acquisition

Follow-on article to Accessing Xentity through a Simplified Acquisition which describes the 8(a) program and the simplified acquisition vehicles. In 2010, Xentity qualified, received certification, and began participating in the Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development program – commonly referred to as just 8(a). Quick summary on 8(a);

Named for Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, this program was created to help small and disadvantaged businesses with a high potential for success to compete in the marketplace. It also helps these companies gain access to federal and private procurement markets. For more information on the program and its requirements, visit 13 CFR 124 (8(a) Business Development/Small Disadvantaged Business Status Determinations) as well as the 8(a) Business Development page to learn about benefits, eligibility standards, and goals of the 8(a) Business Development Program.(http://www.sba.gov/content/8a-business-development)

For accessing Xentity services on larger tasks than $150,000,  there are larger vehicles up to $4 million for more mid-term tasks leveraging Xentity’s 8(a) certified status and accessing as a sole source acquisition. Here are some key points:

  • Xentity consulting services, products, and training can be acquired without more than a statement requesting sole source on the statement of work basis that goes into a request for proposal that requests “Recommend sole source award for Xentity Corporation, an 8(a) certified organization (CAGE #: 4Q8L9)“.
  • These can be for contracts with task orders up to $4 million up to five years and the award cannot be protested or challenged as long as SBA determines Xentity to be eligible for the 8(a) program.
  • Such requests can be presented as firm fixed price, time & materials or even Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) with initial task orders 
  • This can even be used again as such after the initial contract period is completed.
  • If over the $4 million threshold, if there is not a reasonable expectation that at least two eligible and responsible 8(a) firms will submit offers at a fair market price, this can be treated still as sole source justified.
  • This process can take up to 60 days, though can sometimes be completed in one month, once the initial contact is made from the government technical point of contact with their acquisition lead. 

Summary of Steps

  • An agency can contact their acquisition office or their agency small business unit with a requirement, with an estimated value of up to $4 million, that could be awarded to an 8(a) company (non-manufacturing).
  • What needs to be put together is a basic statement of work through their normal drafting and review procedures that lists the tasks, deliverables, performance expectations, known as a Performance Work Statement (PWS).
    • What will be key, after going through a normal PWS review, the request should be annotated with – Recommend sole source award for Xentity Corporation, an 8(a) certified organization (CAGE #: 4Q8L9)
  • Thereafter, the agency acquisition lead will contact SBA with an offer letter and SBA will typically immediately return in kind an “acceptance letter” once internal work validates our active eligibility.
    • It is at that point, a RFP (request for proposal) will be issues directly to the registered Xentity point of contact.
  • Xentity will reply within one week with the technical and cost proposal(s) as requested, and in many cases, using Xentity’s GSA Schedules which further expedites the cost negotiation as rates have been pre-negotiated and already determined to be fair and reasonable.
    • If the proposed costs are not within the funding range expected, another round of negotiations may occur removing or adding scope.
  • Once accepted, a task order is issued to the SBA, and Xentity will begin working to the contracted task orders.

This is a much faster, and simple process for the government to acquire services from a pre-qualified source such as Xentity.

Federal Acquisition Regulation References

The aforementioned is based on the FAR and cites FAR 6 and FAR 19.8. The following helps capture the points cited.

As a quite important side note, Xentity actually consults, trains and advises other small and medium-sized businesses on doing business with the Federal Government, knowing the FAR, and compliant, responsible, and responsive business solutions is one of our primary services.

For contracts up to $4M and up to 5 years, Xentity can be awarded a contract with MUCH less contracting procedural requirements than other means. This is because Xentity has “pre-competed” and has been certified as a small disadvantage business with the potential for success, as SBA terms it. Per FAR 6.204 , Xentity, for our services, will not require additional justification to sole source

(a) To fulfill statutory requirements relating to section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, as amended by Pub. L. 100-656, contracting officers may limit competition to eligible 8(a) contractors (see Subpart 19.8).

 (b) No separate justification or determination and findings is required under this part to limit competition to eligible 8(a) contractors. (https://www.acquisition.gov/far/html/Subpart%206_2.html)

This means, the acquisition can be made a sole source with the additional FAR 6.302-5 provision citing 15 U.S.C. 637 (see Subpart 19.8

(b) Application. This authority may be used when statutes, such as the following, expressly authorize or require that acquisition be made from a specified source or through another agency:
(5) Sole source awards under the HUBZone Act of 1997—15 U.S.C. 657a (see 19.1306). (https://www.acquisition.gov/far/html/Subpart%206_3.html)

In reviewing, FAR 19.805-2(d), additional contracts, task orders can be issued after the initial period of performance:

(d) The eligibility of an 8(a) firm for a competitive 8(a) award may not be challenged or protested by another 8(a) firm or any other party as part of a solicitation or proposed contract award. Any party with information concerning the eligibility of an 8(a) firm to continue participation in the 8(a) Program may submit such information to the SBA in accordance with 13 CFR 124.517.

 There are some cases where the award can be done this way over the $4 million threshold, under the general section in FAR 19.805-1(b).

(b) Where an acquisition exceeds the competitive threshold, the SBA may accept the requirement for a sole source 8(a) award if—

(1) There is not a reasonable expectation that at least two eligible and responsible 8(a) firms will submit offers at a fair market price; []

though, (c) does state, to not abuse the threshold by splitting into two series of acquisitions to get under the $4 million threshold

(c) A proposed 8(a) requirement with an estimated value exceeding the applicable competitive threshold amount shall not be divided into several requirements for lesser amounts in order to use 8(a) sole source procedures for award to a single firm.

Much more can be reviewed under Acquisition.gov – Subpart 19.8—Contracting with the Small Business Administration (The 8(a) Program) which covers the basic steps for acquiring a certified 8(a) contracting firm for its services.