Small Business Programs

Find the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)  - FAR Subpart 19.5 :

As part of government-wide efforts to develop new businesses, certain solicitations are set aside for small business. A small business set-aside reserves a buy exclusively for participation by small business concerns. A small business set-aside may be open to all small businesses. A small business set-aside of a single acquisition or a class of acquisitions may be total or partial.

For more information on small business set-asides, go to FAR 19.501 – General, FAR 19.502 – Setting-Aside Acquisitions, and FAR 19.503 – Setting-Aside a Class of Acquisitions for Small Business. 

A Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) set-aside is the reserving of an acquisition exclusively for participation by HUBZone small business concerns. For a procurement to be totally set-aside for HUBZone small business concerns, a contracting officer must have a reasonable expectation that offers will be received from two or more HUBZone small business concerns and awards will be made at a fair market price. 

For more information on HUBZone set-asides, go to FAR 19.1305.

Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 637(a)) established a program authorizing the Small Business Administration to enter into all types of contracts with other agencies and award subcontracts for performing those contracts to firms eligible for program participation. This program is the “8(a) Business Development Program ,” often referred to as the “8(a) program.”

To help provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) program. The federal government fully defines who qualifies for the 8(a) program — including what counts as being economically and socially disadvantaged — in Title 13 Part 124 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) .

For more details on 8(a) program set-asides, see FAR 19.805-1.

Procurements may be set-aside for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) . A SDVOSB set-aside is the reserving of an acquisition exclusively for participation by SDVOSB concerns. For a procurement to be totally set-aside, a contracting officer must have reasonable expectations that offers will be obtained from at least two capable SDVOSB firms and awards will be made at fair market price. 

For more information on SDVOSB set-asides, go to FAR 19.1405 .

Section 8(m) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 637(m)) created the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program . This program provides for a Women-Owned set-aside and is aimed at expanding Federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs.  The WOSB Federal Contract Program authorizes contracting officers to set-aside certain federal contracts for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) or Economically-Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB).

There are 6-Digit North American Industry Classification Codes designated for EDWOSB set-asides and for WOSB set-asides under the WOSB Program.

For more information on WOSB and EDWOSB set-asides, go to FAR 19.1505 .


Subcontracting can be a great way for small businesses to get started in federal contracting.  To promote small business participation in larger contracts, Congress enacted Public Law 95-507 requiring all contractors, other than small businesses, receiving federal contract awards over $700,000 ($1,500,000 for construction) to submit acceptable subcontracting plans prior to contract award.

Subcontracting plans must specify goals and demonstrate contractors' best efforts to subcontract to small, small disadvantaged, HUBZone, service-disabled veteran-owned, and women-owned small businesses. The subcontracting program creates real opportunities for small firms.

To be eligible as a subcontractor, a concern must represent itself as a small business, veteran-owned small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, HUBZone small business, small disadvantaged business, or women-owned small business concern. For more information about the Subcontracting Program, go to FAR Subpart 19.7 .


Explore this Department of Defense (DoD) Prime Contractor Directory that identifies large prime contractors that are required to establish subcontracting plans with goals. The list includes company names, prime contract numbers, contract periods of performance, NAICS codes, company points of contact (POCs), POC phone numbers and POC email addresses. You can use this directory to find the contact information of prime contractors for potential subcontracting opportunities. The directory is generated from data contained in Individual Subcontract Reports (ISRs) reported by prime contractors in the Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System (eSRS) and data contained in  within .

The SBA's SUB-Net is a valuable resource for information on subcontracting opportunities. Solicitations or notices are posted by prime contractors as well as other government, commercial, and educational entities.

The DoD Subcontracting Program: The Basics of Subcontracting provides information on regulatory, subcontracting, and reporting requirements.  It also includes the types of subcontracting plans and the categories included in the subcontracting plan goals.

Subcontracting Program Checklist

View the Subcontracting Program Checklist for acquisition professionals.