Federal contracts are not just for the big-company bidders. The Small Business Administration (“SBA”) offers many programs to help small business owners get a piece of that work.

Through the SBA, a portion of federal contracts are set aside for small business concerns. While the total set-asides for a small business will vary, all businesses must obtain certification in order to qualify to bid on the governmental work. Certification may vary according to the SBA program but for a small business to qualify as such it must be independently owned and operated; may not dominate in the field in which it is bidding on the government contract; and must meet other applicable size standards. 

The following list, obtained from the SBA website,, is just a sampling of the opportunities for qualifying small businesses to vie for federal contract work.

HUBZone Certification

The HubZone program provides federal contracting assistance for small businesses located in underutilized business zones, with an effort to improve employment opportunities.  An underutilized business zone is one underutilized by business as designated by the HUBZone maps, which are available online at 

8(a) Business Development

The 8(a) Business Development program, which derives its name from Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, assists small socially and economically disadvantaged businesses. According to the Small Business Act, socially disadvantaged individuals include those who have been subject to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities. Further, the Small Business Act defined economically disadvantaged individuals are those who ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities. Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act allows the SBA to contract with other federal agencies and then  subcontract the work to qualified small disadvantaged businesses.

Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program

A small business owned and controlled, and primarily managed, by one or more women, may qualify for set asides in federal government contracts.

Veteran-Owned Businesses/Service Disabled, Veteran Owned Small Businesses

SBA has set-asides for both veteran-owned businesses and Service Disabled, Veteran Owned Small Businesses. Designed to assist veterans or service-disabled veterans with resources to start and grow a small business. 

Mentor/Protégé Program

This program allows 8(a) participants to work with other companies that serve as mentors and provide various forms of assistance. The program helps small businesses compete for prime contract and subcontract awards by partnering with large companies through individual project-based agreements. 

For further information please contact Michael Siri at (410) 583-2400 or