December 2010

Benefiting from set-asides

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Even if your company doesn't meet federal requirements, you still can benefit from set-aside contracts

by Scott D. Calhoun and David M. Gersh
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To further its policy of counseling, assisting and protecting the interests of small businesses, the federal government has established set-aside programs for some of them. Preferences have been established to ensure a fair proportion of government purchasing is made through such companies, and tens of billions of dollars are directed to small-business concerns each year. For construction projects in particular, agencies are eager to obtain small-business participation.

If you do not meet set-aside program requirements, you may be able to work with companies that do through joint ventures, teaming agreements and other arrangements. Such arrangements can benefit businesses eligible for set-aside awards because such businesses often lack the resources or experience to successfully complete the work required under the contract.

For example, such a contractor may not have the financial wherewithal to obtain the required bonds for a project and may never have performed a project as large and complex as the set-aside contract. Collaborative arrangements such as joint ventures and teaming agreements can help enable those that do and do not qualify for set-aside contracts to benefit from existing government policy.

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