The Road Ahead: Reimagining the 8(a) Program and Federal Contracting

Business Insights

The Road Ahead: Reimagining the 8(a) Program and Federal Contracting

Sep 6, 2023 | Business Insights

This is Part 3 in a Three-Part Series. Read Part 2.

The recent ruling on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) program has stirred much debate and speculation. With the blanket assumption of social disadvantage based on race or ethnicity overturned by a Tennessee Federal District Court, a new path for the program’s future awaits. This concluding piece in our series aims to envision the road ahead for the 8(a) program, its participants, and the broader realm of federal contracting.

1. Broadening the Scope of Social Disadvantage

The essence of the 8(a) program is to help disadvantaged businesses. By moving away from racial and ethnic presumptions, there’s an opportunity to recognize a broader spectrum of social disadvantages. This includes challenges faced due to gender, physical disabilities, geographical location, or other factors that may have historically impacted a business’s ability to compete in federal contracting.

2. Addressing the Federal Contracting Goals

The Biden administration has a goal of directing 15% of all federal contracting spending to small, disadvantaged businesses by 2025, up from the current 10%. With the recent court ruling potentially reducing the number of businesses classified as ‘disadvantaged’, this target might seem lofty.

However, by broadening the scope of the 8(a) program and ensuring that a diverse range of truly disadvantaged businesses are benefiting, the administration can maintain its commitment.

3. Beyond the 8(a): Reimagining Federal Contracting

The 8(a) program is just one piece of the larger federal contracting puzzle. While it serves a crucial role, the broader ethos of federal contracting also needs to evolve, ensuring opportunities for all businesses. This might involve redefining criteria for awarding contracts, emphasizing collaboration between big and small businesses, and creating mentorship programs where established businesses guide newcomers through the intricacies of federal contracting.


The road ahead for the 8(a) program is undeniably filled with challenges. However, every challenge presents an opportunity. By reimagining the program, emphasizing inclusivity, transparency, and collaboration, the federal government can pave the way for a more equitable and robust contracting environment. We will continue to monitor any changes to the program and provide updates as they occur.

This is Part 3 in a Three-Part Series on the 8(a) Program Controversy.

If you have questions about the 8(a) program or other federal contract, reach out to Harrison Clinton at (703) 526-5587 or

This article is for informational purposes only and does not contain or convey legal advice. Consult a lawyer. Any views or opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily the views of any client.


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