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Changes Are Coming for 8(a) Contractors in the MAS Program Blog Feature
Stephanie Hagan

By: Stephanie Hagan on June 16th, 2023

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Changes Are Coming for 8(a) Contractors in the MAS Program

Government Business Development | 5 Min Read

Recently, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and GSA have signed a revised 8(a) Partnership Agreement that aims to increase contracting opportunities for 8(a) contractors. The agreement will also make it easier for GSA customers to purchase solutions from 8(a) through the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. Once the agreement is fully put in place, there will be increased ordering flexibility under the MAS program. To accomplish this, GSA and the SBA are working together to establish an MAS pool for 8(a) contractors. Let’s talk about this agreement, the upcoming pool, and what action items you need to take as a current or prospective 8(a) business.

What is the 8(a) Program?

Before we dive too much deeper into the big changes coming for 8(a) contractors, let’s take a quick step back and make sure we’re all on the same page about what the 8(a) program is. The 8(a) Business Development Program was created to assist eligible small, disadvantaged businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to compete in the U.S. economy. Through the 8(a) Program, businesses receive training and technical assistance which helps them strengthen their ability to compete effectively in the economy.

The SBA categorizes the eligible disadvantaged small businesses into 4 categories:

The MAS 8(a) pool, which we’ll talk about next, is going to further categorize 8(a) businesses within the MAS program and ensure they are a part of the 8(a) program.

What is the MAS 8(a) Pool that GSA and SBA Plan to Create?

The 8(a) Program Partnership Agreement will give GSA more authority and flexibility through the MAS program, such as authority for sole source awards to 8(a) firms. To give GSA more authority under MAS, they are going to establish an MAS 8(a) pool.

This pool will consist of new and existing 8(a) MAS contractors who are current participants in the 8(a) Business Development Program (and whose contracts will be accepted into the pool by GSA and the SBA). Once in the pool, contractors will be eligible for competitive and sole source 8(a) set-asides under their GSA Schedules.

What Are the Benefits of the 8(a) Pool Program?

Benefits of this new pool for both contractors and government customers include:

  • Increased opportunities for 8(a) contractors
  • Access to a large number of 8(a) contractors and other socio-economic contractors to meet socio-economic goals
  • Increased ordering flexibility under the MAS program, including sole source awards
  • Streamlined acquisition processes to incentivize agencies to use 8(a) solutions
  • Standard processes between GSA and the SBA

How Long Can Contractors Be a Part of the MAS 8(a) Pool?

To be eligible for sole source awards, contractors must remain active in the 8(a) program, and continue to be classified as a small business by their primary North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code at the time of award.

For competitive set-aside awards, 8(a) pool contractors will remained eligible for up to 5 years from the date of award or until representation in accordance with FAR 19.301-2(b) (whichever is first), even after the contractor has left the 8(a) Program.  

What Does this All Mean for Current and Prospective 8(a) MAS Contractors?

GSA and the SBA plan to start implementing this pool in July 2023, so what does this mean for current and prospective MAS contractors?

For existing 8(a) MAS contractors, GSA has already identified existing MAS 8(a) contractors who are currently active in the 8(a) Program and offered the contracts to SBA for acceptance. A Mass Modification will be issued to all existing contractors accepted by the SBA, and contractors must accept this modification to be placed in the 8(a) pool and to be eligible for 8(a) awards.

For new 8(a) offers, 8(a) contractors seeking an MAS contract award will be offered to SBA for the 8(a) pool with their offer. Once the SBA determines them eligible, the contract will be added to the 8(a) pool upon award of the modification.

If a contractor has exited the 8(a) program yet still has the 8(a) socio-economic indicator because they haven’t re-represented their socio-economic status, they are not allowed to participate in the pool.

GSA’s Data Cleanup for Former 8(a) Contractors

To pave the way for this new program, GSA is conducting a data clean-up. There are several contractors who have exited the 8(a) program but still have the SBA certified 8(a) indicator on their contract. If a contractor has exited the program and has not passed SBA’s offer and acceptance process, they cannot be added to the pool and their 8(a) status will be removed. This will happen automatically, no action is required from contractors.

Taking Advantage of Set Aside Opportunities

This new pool is designed to increase contracting opportunities among 8(a) contractors, making the MAS program more fruitful for small businesses. If you are not involved in any set-aside programs and think you qualify as a small business, you can check out the NAICS size standards and the types of set-asides.

If you have questions about your GSA Schedule and becoming a part of the MAS 8(a) pool, we would be happy to help.
A Complete Checklist for Maintaining Your GSA Schedule CTA


About Stephanie Hagan

Stephanie Hagan is the Training and Communications Manager for Winvale. Stephanie grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and earned her Bachelor's of Arts in Journalism and Rhetoric/Communications from the University of Richmond.