On May 25, 2023, the General Services Administration (GSA) and Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the launch of the 8(a) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Pool Initiative.
This Initiative advances President Biden’s commitment to equity and, in particular, the administration’s goal to increase contracts to small disadvantaged businesses (SBD).
Under the Initiative, GSA is establishing an 8(a) MAS Pool that will include new and existing MAS 8(a) contractors who are current, active 8(a) Program participants and whose contracts have been accepted into the pool by SBA.
Once accepted into the 8(a) MAS Pool Initiative, the SDBs will be designated as eligible for 8(a) sole source awards and competitive set-asides within the MAS Program. In particular, GSA has indicated that:
- For 8(a) sole source awards: MAS 8(a) Pool contractors will be eligible as long as they remain active in the 8(a) Program and continue to qualify as small for the size standard corresponding to the NAICS code assigned to the sole source order, at the time of award.
- For competitive 8(a) set-aside awards: MAS 8(a) Pool contractors will continue to remain eligible for competitive set aside awards for up to 5 years from the date of award, or until re-representation in accordance with FAR 19.301-2(b) (whichever is first) even after the contractor has exited the 8(a) Program.
The existence of the 8(a) MAS Pool will increase ordering flexibility under the GSA Schedule program and streamline the acquisition process, further incentivizing agencies to contract with 8(a) firms. It will also provide government buyers with greater access to a large number of 8(a) contractors, which should help agencies meet their small and socioeconomic business contracting goals.
The impacts of this initiative are multifold:
- Current 8(a) MAS Contractors. GSA has already identified active 8(a) MAS contractors and offered those contracts to SBA for acceptance into the 8(a) MAS Pool. Such contractors may have already received (or will receive) requests from SBA for financial statements and/or other documentation needed to determine contractor eligibility for participation in the pool. Contractors should timely respond to SBA to ensure they are included in the 8(a) MAS Pool. GSA intends to issue a mass modification to SBA-accepted 8(a)s. In order to be placed in the pool and be eligible for 8(a) awards, contractors must accept the modification.
Note, to the extent that a contractor is an active 8(a) Participant but is not identified as such on its MAS contract, the contractor may request to re-represent as an 8(a) in accordance with FAR 19.301-2. At that time, the MAS contracting officer will offer this contract to SBA, and once determined eligible and accepted by SBA, the contract will be added to the 8(a) pool upon award of the modification.
- Current 8(a) Participants Seeking a MAS Contract. 8(a) contractors seeking a MAS contract award will be offered to SBA for the MAS 8(a) pool with their offer. Once determined eligible and accepted by SBA, the contract will be added to the 8(a) pool upon award of the MAS contract.
- Former 8(a) Participants with a MAS Contract. GSA has noted that at this time there are a number of contractors in the MAS Program who have exited the 8(a) Program but still have the SBA Certified 8(a) Firm socio-economic indicator on their contract (because, for example, the firm has not yet re-represented their socio-economic status in accordance with FAR 19.301-2). These contractors cannot be added to the 8(a) MAS Pool and their 8(a) status will be removed. This change will be automatic and no action is required from contractors.
- Non-8(a) Participants. With increasing agency access to 8(a) Participants via this Initiative, non-8(a) Participants might begin considering teaming strategies—identifying what, if any, of the anticipated work to be procured via a MAS Contract is likely to be set-aside for the 8(a) MAS Pool; identifying potential 8(a) teaming partners that will be in the 8(a) MAS Pool; understanding the limitations on subcontracting that will apply; etc.
GSA expects full implementation of this initiative by July 2023.
Relevant GSA Blog Posts:
- GSA Interact, Attention Former 8(a) Contractors: Data Cleanup is Coming, 6/12/2023
- GSA Interact, Important Update for 8(a) MAS Contractors on Upcoming Changes, 5/30/2023