It has come to my attention that some SBA 8(a) BDS’ are stating to 8(a) business owners that they must have an actual contract opportunity located in order to send out a Search Letter on their behalf; this could not be farther from the truth – what is being passed off as the definition of a Search Letter is actually that of a Requirements Letter.
For your empowerment, please read and digest the below information, as you may find it useful in managing your Business Development Specialist effectively:
à Through their cooperative efforts, the SBA and an agency match the agency’s requirements with the capabilities of 8(a) Certified firms to establish a basis for the agency to contract with the SBA under the program.
The SBA advises an agency contracting activity through a search letter of an 8(a) Certified firm’s capabilities and asks the agency to identify acquisitions to support the firm’s business plans.
1. A Search Letter is a GENERAL REQUEST by SBA to a procuring agency to identify and reserve requirements to support an 8(a) concern’s marketing objectives. This letter should include a copy of the 8(a) concern’s current capability statement. When requesting that your assigned Business Development Specialist send a search letter, the name and address of the recipient must be provided. You can also work with your BDS to determine potential recipients of this letter.
2. A Requirement Letter is a FORMAL REQUEST by the Small Business Administration to a Federal Agency asking for consideration in providing a specific requirement for execution under the 8(a) Program for a stated approved 8(a) firm.
The Federal Acquisition Regulations formally address both types of letters in FAR 19.803 — Selecting Acquisitions for the 8(a) Program as follows:
Through their cooperative efforts, the SBA and an agency match the agency’s requirements with the capabilities of 8(a) concerns to establish a basis for the agency to contract with the SBA under the program. Selection is initiated in one of three ways –
(a) The SBA advises an agency contracting activity through a search letter of an 8(a) firm’s capabilities and asks the agency to identify acquisitions to support the firm’s business plans; …
(b) The SBA identifies a specific requirement for a particular 8(a) firm or firms and asks the agency contracting activity to offer the acquisition to the 8(a) Program for the firm(s); …
(c) Agencies may also review other proposed acquisitions for the purpose of identifying requirements which may be offered to the SBA.
As you can see from the FAR, there has been some level of confusion regarding the FAR definition of the Search Letter and its close cousin the Requirement Letter.
- Rudy Sutherland
Voice of Small Business in America