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GSA Now Allows Set-Asides for Small Business Contracts

GSA Now Allows Set-Asides for Small Business Contracts

 Thanks to a recent regulatory change to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR 52.502-4), federal buyers can now set aside orders and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) issued against Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts. That means that for the first time in history, portions of federal contracts can be set aside specifically for small businesses that meet certain requirements.

Under the new rule, federal ordering Contracting Officers (COs) may, at their discretion, set aside orders and BPAs for: 

  • 8(a) Business Development participants
  • HUBZone Small Businesses
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
  • Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Businesses
  • Businesses eligible under the Women-Owned Small Business Program

This means that if your business qualifies, you now have the opportunity to respond to GSA set-aside RFQ opportunities.

 But remember–federal ordering COs do not have to set aside orders or BPAs. So while a business (contractor) may protest a CO’s decision, the changes to FAR 8.4 make it clear that the decision to set aside or not set aside an order under the MAS program is entirely at the CO’s discretion. This holds true whether the order is above or below the current Simplified Acquisition Threshold of $150,000.

Under the interim change, COs are expected to: 

  • Follow normal ordering procedures under FAR 8.4 for MAS and BPA contracts
  • State in the RFQ whether set-asides are for small business or for one of the small business subcategories listed above, so that contractors can determine whether they qualify to respond to the RFQ.

Small businesses may, of course, still respond to RFQs that are not set-asides.

 A Mass Modification (changes to large numbers of federal contracts) is currently underway for all schedules that involve set-asides. Until those changes are finalized, COs are advised to include relevant clauses regarding set-asides on the order itself.

This means that RFQs in some cases may not be released until the Mass Mod is completed, as COs may want to save themselves the burden (and risk) of adding clauses to contracts. For the contractor, it could mean waiting several months for some COs to begin soliciting RFQs for some projects. 

Want to know more? Speak to a GSA expert at BH Sky Associates today. Call us at 866-468-7420,  email or visit us on the web at