eGuide: Issuing 8(a) Direct Awards

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This visual eGuide provides the how and why behind the unique contracting method of issuing 8(a) direct awards. It offers a brief look into the 8(a) program, Alaska Native Corporations, the overall process for issuing contracts, and lessons learned for government agencies.

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8(a) Program Overview

The 8(a) Business Development program was
designed to help small businesses owned by socially
and economically disadvantaged people or entities
build and sustain a profitable business.
Title 13 Part 124 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines who
qualifies for the program. In short, the program requires participants to:

  1. Be a small business (size standards vary by industry and are typically
    stated in number of employees or average annual receipts)
  2. Have 51% or greater ownership and control by U.S. citizens who are
    socially and economically disadvantaged
  3. Demonstrate good character and potential to perform on contracts

8(a) companies graduate from the program after up to nine years or when
they reach a certain revenue threshold.

The Process for Issuing Direct Awards

Direct awards are a method to use sole source procedures to award to a single participant of
the 8(a) Business Development program (FAR 19.8 and DFARS 219.8).

Issuing a direct award can be executed in six simple steps:

  1. Contracting Officer determines company is capable.
  2. Contracting Officer makes a request to the participant’s/contractor’s SBA servicing District Office to determine if the company is able to receive a direct award.
  3. SBA responds within 5 days.
  4. Contracting Officer releases RFP performance requirements to direct award recipient.
  5. Recipient responds and negotiations are completed.
  6. Contracting Officer makes the award.

Alaska Native Corporations

Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) were formed under the laws of the
State of Alaska in accordance with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
(ANCSA) (43 U.S.C. 1601). ANCSA was intended to resolve long-standing issues
surrounding aboriginal land claims in Alaska, as well as to stimulate economic
development throughout the state.

Under the Act:

  1. 12 regional for profit ANCs were created and over 200 village, group, and
    urban corporations
  2. A 13th landless regional corporation headquartered in Seattle was later
    established for Alaska Natives who lived outside of Alaska
  3. ANCs have specific procedures to follow as provided by ANCSA, but they
    are also incorporated under State of Alaska law and must follow state
    corporation law
  4. Lands, businesses, and other assets are owned by the shareholders of the
    Native corporations, and subject to terms, protections, and restrictions
    placed on them by both federal Indian law (ANCSA) and by State of
    Alaska corporation law

Why Work with an ANC?

Working with a company that has the unique combination of ANC ownership and Small Business Administration 8(a) status offers government procurement professionals a streamlined avenue for procuring products and services.


Given today’s complex acquisition landscape, direct awards offer an ideal path for rapidly procuring products and services with less risk. Do you have further questions about the 8(a) Direct Award Process? Akima has a team of contracting professionals standing by ready to assist you. Reach out to us directly at

Akima is more than one company. We are a portfolio of 8(a) companies, small businesses, and other operating organizations. We take pride in being both specialized and nimble — two qualities that allow us to respond quickly to our customers’ unique needs.