When your company applies to the SBA 8(a) program the Small Business Administration performs various checks on both your company and on you and your business partners as the owners to determine if the owner(s) and your company are suitable candidates to be admitted into the 8(a) portfolio of certified companies. Most 8(a) applicants will pass these background checks without any problems.
The SBA’s goal is to thoroughly investigate all 8(a) applicants to ensure only the best companies gain admission into the 8(a) business development program.
There are several kinds of background checks you can expect as an owner of a company that has applied for 8(a) certification. The SBA cross-checks a wide variety of sources about you and your company including any and/or all of the following:
1. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reviews to make sure you and your company are up-to-date on all taxes. Before submitting your application make sure you check with the IRS that ALL your Federal and/or State obligations are paid or are in a satisfactory payment arrangement.
2. Credit checks with Experian and the other credit bureaus to hunt for unpaid obligations or consistent patterns of financial irresponsibility. Check your credit reports to make sure that old magazine subscription bill you didn’t pay for 5 years ago isn’t showing up on your credit report. If it is take care of it and any unfavorable comments on your history needs responded to in your initial application.
3. Review of your company’s SAM profile to see who is listed as being in control of the company. Review your SAM profile for accurateness and completeness.
4. A review of your company website to see if there is consistency with information submitted in your 8(a) application. Make sure the information on your website is current. The site doesn’t have to be perfect just accurate.
5. Social media reviews to determine if your 8(a) application data is consistent with things you have said about yourself in public, e.g., on LinkedIn. Again don’t let your Facebook page say you are still with your old employer.
6. State annual reports for your company and other related State-level company documents. Make sure all annual reports required to be filed with your company are current and accurate.
7. Court record checks to make sure you and your company do not have any unpaid liens or unpaid court judgments. If you have any of these issues going on you better be ready to explain them. It is best to address these issues in your initial application so the SBA doesn’t view you as trying to hide information.
8. FBI fingerprint card checks for any owners or “key employees” at the firm who have past arrests or charges. Not all past arrests or charges will result in a denial but you MUST explain to the SBA the circumstances of the charges and the final results. (In some instances, this may be part of your socio-economic narrative.)
9. The Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) database.
Other databases and resources are cross-checked as well to hunt for any “adverse information” that might exist about you or your company.