Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I am interested in doing business with HHS, how should I proceed?
A. If you are new to doing business with HHS, you should register to attend one of our FREE Vendor Outreach Sessions. They are scheduled for the second Tuesday of every other month from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. If you are not able to attend one of these sessions, visit our website and review each of our operating divisions within the Department. You should contact our Small Business Specialists within their respective division for further guidance.
Q. I am just starting my business; do I need any special certifications from HHS?
A. HHS does not require any special certifications. The Small Business Administration (SBA certifies firms under their 8(a) Business Development Program, the Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) Program and the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program. Small, Women-Owned, Veteran-Owned and Service-Disabled Veteran Owned businesses rely on self-certifications. Self-certification is not questioned until a competitor or other interested party protests. A Contracting Officer may also request a size determination from the SBA.
Q. I'd like to apply for a grant or a loan to start a business. Do you provide them?
A.HHS does not provide grants or loans to start small businesses. If you are seeking financial assistance to start a business or expand an existing business, please contact your local Small Business Administration office at: www.sba.gov. Click on, “Starting a Business” and/or “Financing a Business”.
It should be noted that, the Department of Health and Human Services is the largest grant-making organization in the Federal Government. Our 300 plus grant programs cover mission specific topics and are handled by the various operating components of the Department. Additional information may be found at: www.hhs.gov/grantsnet. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) profiles all Federal grant programs, which provides financial assistance, including HHS programs, and list a specific point of contact for obtaining additional information and applications. It also includes a helpful section on writing grant applications. The web site for CFDA is www.cfda.gov.
Q. How is a small business defined or categorized?
A. A business is considered small if it meets or is below an established monetary or number of employees “size standard”. The size standard is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. NAICS replaced the old SIC codes in October 2000. The size standard is determined based on the product or service the Government is buying. For example, in the IT services industry, you are considered small if your average annual revenue is $21M or less. However, to be considered small for architect-engineering services, your revenue must be $6M or less. In some instances the same company would be considered small on one buy and large on another. Again, the NAICS is driven by the product or service that is being purchased. To obtain additional information on the NAICS go to: http://www.sba.gov/size, then click on, Table of Size Standards.
Q. I am an IT company and I would like to find out how I can find opportunities at HHS?
A. Information technology is the area where we receive the most inquiries, so the competition is substantial. When presenting your capabilities to potential customers, we suggest that you tailor your IT capabilities to specific functions, i.e., IT relating to medical analysis, data base management, or IT related to security.
In addition to the above recommendation, you should be aware that HHS has several Multiple Award, Indefinite Delivery contracts for IT services. These contracts, in addition to the significant use of GSA Schedules, make identification of opportunities challenging. If you do not have a GSA schedule contract, we strongly recommend you contact GSA to obtain one. We also recommend that you contact major prime contractors for potential subcontracting opportunities. We have provided a list of HHS Prime Contractors on our web site for your information.
Q. How do I find 8(a) opportunities at HHS? (I thought that it was mandatory for Federal Agencies to set-aside opportunities for 8(a) contractors.)
A.The Small Business Act defines the 8(a) program as a procurement program. At its inception, it sought to develop small businesses that were socially and economically disadvantaged while providing the Federal Government a faster way to obtain goods and services. Unlike Small Business set-asides, there is no statutory requirement for Executive Departments to use the 8(a) program. Contracting Officers must determine if a specific requirement is conducive to the 8(a) program. It has been the practice of the Federal Government to maintain these requirements in the 8(a) program once that determination is made. Contracting Officers are also required to notify the SBA if they intend to “remove” a requirement from the 8(a) program. The SBA has the sole authority over this decision.
Today, Government-Wide Multiple Award, (GWAC) IDIQ type contracts, in addition to GSA Schedule contracts, has become the most expeditious method of acquiring Government goods and services. We strongly encourage you to obtain one or more GSA Schedule contracts and/or GWACs. Being on schedule and/or a GWAC makes good “business sense” and will provide your company with multiple options.
Q. How do I become a Mentor or a Protégé at HHS?
A. HHS is currently evaluating the feasibility of implementing a Mentor/Protégé Program. We do not currently have a program in place. Should the framework of the program be established, a notice would be issued in the Federal Register and FedBizOpps to inform the public and obtain comments
Q. What is the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program?
A. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program is a highly competitive three-phase award system which provides qualified small business concerns with opportunities to propose innovative ideas that meet the specific research and research and development needs of the Federal Government.
Phase I is a feasibility study to evaluate the scientific and technical merit of an idea. Awards are made for periods of up to six months in amounts up to $100,000.
Phase II is to expand on the results of and further pursue the development of Phase I. Awards are made for periods of up to two years in amounts up to $750,000. You must have participated in a Phase I award to be considered for a Phase II.
Phase III is for the commercialization of the results of Phase II and requires the use of private sector or non-SBIR Federal funding.
Q. What is the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program?
A. STTR is a highly competitive three-phase program that reserves a specific percentage of Federal research and development funding for award to small businesses in partnership with nonprofit research institutions to move ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace, to foster high-tech economic development and to address the technological needs of the Federal Government.
Phase I is the startup phase for the exploration of the scientific, technical, and commercial feasibility of an idea or technology. Awards are for periods of up to one year in amounts up to $100,000. Phase II is to expand Phase I results. During this period the R&D work is performed and the developer begins to consider commercialization potential. Awards are for periods of up to two years in amounts up to $500,000. Phase III is the period during which Phase II innovation moves from the laboratory into the marketplace. There is no STTR funding in this phase.
For continuously updated information concerning these two programs, you should visit the Small Business Administration (SBA) website at: http://www.sba.gov/SBIR/indexsbir-sttr.html.
Q. How do I obtain a copy of an SBIR or STTR Solicitation?
A. The electronic copy is available on: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbir.htm
To obtain a hard copy of an SBIR solicitation, contact the following:
PHS SBIR/STTR Solicitation Office
Q. Who should I should I contact if I need general information or have questions concerning the SBIR or STTR Program or my application?
A. Please feel free to contact any one of our SBIR Coordinators listed below:
Ms. Jo Anne Goodnight
Ms. Kay Etzler
NIH SBIR/STTR Solicitation Office
Administration for Children and Families
Ms. Anne F. Bergan
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mr. William Saunders
Last Revised: April 9, 2008