Info on SBA 8(a) Application Background Checks
When your company applies to the SBA 8(a) program the Small Business Administration performs various checks on both your company and on you as the owner to determine if you and your company are suitable candidates to be admitted into the 8(a) portfolio of certified companies.
This SBA scrutiny of 8(a) applicants has increased dramatically because of recent media and Congressional criticism of fraud, waste, and abuse in the 8(a) program. The SBA’s goal is to rigorously investigate all 8(a) applicants to ensure only the best companies gain admission into the 8(a) business development program.
What kinds of background checks can you expect as an owner of a company that has applied for 8(a) certification? The SBA cross-checks a wide variety of sources about you and your company including any and all of the following:
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reviews to make sure you and your company are up-to-date on all taxes
- Credit checks with Experian and the other credit bureaus to hunt for unpaid obligations or consistent patterns of financial irresponsibility
- Review of your company’s CCR profile to see who is listed as being in control of the company
- Review of your company’s ORCA profile to see who is listed as being in control of the company
- A review of your company website to see if there is consistency with information submitted in your 8(a) application
- Social media reviews to determine if your 8(a) application data is consistent with things you have said about yourself in public, e.g., on LinkedIn
- State annual reports for your company and other related State-level company documents
- Court record checks to make sure you and your company do not have any unpaid liens or unpaid court judgments
- FBI fingerprint card checks for any owners or “key employees” at the firm who have past arrests or charges
- The Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) database
Other databases and resources are cross-checked as well to hunt for any “adverse information” that might exist about your or your company.
Most 8(a) applicants will pass these background checks without any problems.
If you are worried about your company’s standing, here are a few things you can do to prep for 8(a) certification and eliminate risks:
- Contact the IRS to see if you owe them anything. If you do owe the IRS something, set up a formal payment plan if you cannot pay off the entire amount immediately.
- Pay off any liens or judgments you know about on your record. If you owe other creditors substantial amounts (for example, if you owe a vendor several thousand dollars for the lease or purchase of heavy equipment), contact the vendors/creditors to set up formally-documented payment plans before anything gets sent to collections.
- Check your personal credit report using www.annualcreditreport.com (this will not cost you anything because this is the specific website the government set up to let you obtain your credit report once per year without paying any fees) and correct any errors with the credit bureaus.
- If you are behind on student loans, ask for a forbearance or negotiate with the lender to make your monthly payment plan more affordable.
- Brainstorm to try to remember any other possible personal or company debts or obligations that you might be late or behind on and try to correct these discrepancies in advance of filing for 8(a) certification (e.g., make sure your State annual report has been paid and filed properly if required in your State.)
For more information on the 8(a) application process, GCS Inc. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.