Officials try to clarify acquisition rules

A new proposed rule aims to clarify for contracting officers several procurement rules regarding small-businesses set-asides.

According to a notice in the March 10 Federal Register, the proposal from the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council states that:



  • There is no order of precedence among the 8(a), Historically Underutilized Business Zone or service-disabled veteran-owned small-business programs.

  • Contracting officers first must consider directing any small-business set-aside for a contract worth more than $100,000 to an 8(a), HUBZone or veteran-owned small business before for allowing all small businesses to bid.


There is one exception. If the acquisition meets HUBZone criteria, the contracting officer must set aside the contract for those businesses. The proposal also states that the contracting officer should award a contract to a HUBZone business even if only one acceptable offer from a qualified business comes from the set-aside announcement.


  • Contracting officers must reserve acquisitions between $3,000 and $100,000 for small businesses unless the officer determines that two or more businesses will not competitively vie for the job. Even though the acquisition is set aside for small businesses, officers can award it to HUBZone, 8(a) or veteran-owned small businesses.

  • Contracting officers should consider their agency’s progress in meeting federal small-business goals when deciding which program to use for a contract.


The proposal tries to ensure that the Federal Acquisition Regulation clearly reflects the Small Business Administration’s interpretation of the Small Business Act and precedence of small-business programs, according to the notice.

The comment period for the proposed rule is through May 9.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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