Small Business Contracting FAQs
The following FAQs will be updated as questions are received; please check back for updates!
Last Updated Date: 10/16/2018
What is the Small Business Contracting Program?
The result is the DGS’ Small Business Contracting Program is a program designed to reserve certain state contracting opportunities for competition among only self-certified small businesses.
Does self-certifying for as a Small Business ensure my company will be awarded state contracts?
No, self-certification does not ensure the award of a state contract. The purchase of goods and services by the state is governed by law. While the Small Business Contracting Program assures that certain procurements will be reserved for competition among only self-certified small businesses, it does not assure award of a contract.
What is a vendor number?
A vendor number (sometimes called an “SAP number”) is a unique six-digit number assigned by the Commonwealth to identify your company as a vendor in its purchasing and accounting system. All vendors doing business with the must have one, and it is required for entry into the online SPBI Self-Certification Application.
How do I get a vendor number?
Vendors can register to receive a vendor number at www.pasupplierportal.state.pa.us. The process is described in full in the Supplier Registration Guide.
I have forgotten my username and password. How can I access this information or have it reset?
If you have forgotten your username, select “Forgot Your Password?” or "Forgot Your UserID?" on the Log On page (preferred) or contact the Supplier Service Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 435-7363, option 1.
I am already registered in the PA Supplier Portal; why am I being asked to provide a W-9?
If your company has not done business with the Commonwealth over the last two or three years, you may be asked to provide an Internal Revenue Service W-9 form. The W-9 form is used as verification of the legal name(s), tax identification number, and the legal business type being used for tax exempt or tax purposes.
Once I have my vendor number, how do I access the Small Business Self-Certification Application?
Once you have confirmed your vendor number, return to the Supplier Portal and log in. In the upper right hand corner, click “Enterprise Applications.” From there, you will be directed to a menu of options. Select “Small & Small Diverse Business Program Application.” See the application guide for more detailed instructions.
The Enterprise Applications page is blank. What do I do?
The PA Supplier Portal is most compatible with Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0. You may also access the Portal through IE9, IE10, and IE11, but you must run them in compatibility mode. The PA Supplier Portal is not guaranteed to work with other browsers such as Firefox and Chrome.
The goal with using the PA Supplier Portal is to view all content whether it’s delivered securely or not. There may be a security pop up that appears while accessing the Portal or while navigating to “Enterprise Applications” Depending on the wording, the correct answer can either be Yes or No.
The PA Supplier Portal is not guaranteed to run on a MAC. Some users have managed to certify and recertify using MACs by accessing the PA Supplier Portal through the Opera browser which is available for both MAC and PC.
Contact the Supplier Service Center at 877-435-7363, option 1, if you continue to experience issues after following the troubleshooting tips.
What is considered a full-time employee? What types of employees should be counted toward the 100 full time employee limit for small business self-certification?
All full time, part time, and temporary employees working for the business must be counted against the applicable employment limitation of 100 full time or full time equivalent employees. This also includes owners and management personnel for all facilities, including those outside the Commonwealth. The full-time equivalent (FTE) calculation is:
All Hours Worked by All Employees
Total Hours in a Full-Time Schedule
What is a US business?
A US business is a business headquartered in the United States of America.
What is an independently owned business?
To be independently owned, the business may not be owned or controlled by any other business. A branch location or a division of a corporation is not an independently-owned business.
Is a subsidiary eligible for Small Business self-certification?
A subsidiary is a company for which a majority of the voting stock is owned by a holding or parent company. A business that is a subsidiary of another business or is owned principally by another business entity or by a trust (including an employee stock ownership plan) does not meet the requirement for independence. However, if a parent or holding company, established for tax, capitalization, or other purposes consistent with industry practice, in turn owns and controls an operating subsidiary, the subsidiary may be considered independently owned if it otherwise meets all small business eligibility requirements. In this situation, the individual owners and controllers of the parent or holding company are deemed to control the subsidiary through the parent or holding company.
A business cannot be dominant in its field of operation to be eligible for Small Business self-certification. What does dominant mean?
A business dominant in its field of operation is one that exercises control or major influence in its industry. As an extreme example, Comcast is a major player within the cable industry and would be considered dominant in its field.
I am an independent contractor can I self-certify as a Small Business?
Self-certification is for those businesses that meet the eligibility requirements for Small Business self-certification. If you own a business that meets the following criteria, you may self-certify your business as a Small Business.
- The business is based in the United States.
- The business is independent owned.
- The business is not dominant in its field of operation.
- The business is not a subsidiary.
- The business does not exceed 100 full-time equivalent employees.
- The business does not exceed established 3-year average gross revenues of $38.5 Million, regardless of business type (effective 11/1/2018).
Are gross revenues the same as Gross Receipts or Sales?
Are there any documents I need to prepare before accessing the Small Business Self-Certification Application?
Yes. The Small Business Self-Certification Application requires the upload of certain tax documentation for the purposes of verifying your company’s annual gross revenues. Page 1 of your federal tax return will be requested:
- Federal form 1120, the U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return
- Federal form 1120S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation
- Federal form 1065, the U.S. Return of Partnership Income
- Federal form 1040 Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, Sole Proprietorship
You may redact your federal tax identification number if desired. The acceptable file format for upload is PDF.
I have filed for an extension for my most recent tax return and do not have the documents for upload. Should I wait to complete the process until I have the documents to complete the self-certification?
While submitting a complete application is the preferred method, the department has created a process through which applicants who have not yet filed their current year taxes can still complete the self-certification process. For specific instructions on that process, send an email to RA-SmallBusiness@pa.gov.
What if I do not have the capability to scan or create these documents for upload?
Use the Email Help button to email the Small Business program to request assistance.
Is there a fee for obtaining a vendor number or for self-certifying through the Small Business Self-Certification Application?
No, neither of these processes requires a fee.
How long does my certification last?
As indicated on the Small Business Certificate, self-certification is valid for a period of two (2) calendar years from the date of issuance. The Small Business Self-Certification Application will email your business thirty (30) and fifteen (15) days prior to your certification expiration with instructions for re-certifying.
How will I confirm that I have successfully self-certified?
The Small Business Self-Certification Application will send a confirmation email to the email address entered in the application that contains a link to your Small Business Certificate. Be sure to save that email, as you can return to it to reprint your Small Business Certificate as needed. You may also click on the Step 5 tab again to access the "Print Certificate" button which will appear at the bottom of the page.
I no longer have the email containing the electronic version of the certificate. How may I obtain another copy of the certificate?
Return to the Supplier Portal, sign back into the Small Business Self-Certification Application, and proceed to Step 5. Click on the “Print Certificate” button at the bottom of the page to reprint your certificate.
Is a Small Business Certificate required in order to be allowed to bid on Small Business contracts?
Yes. A valid DGS Small Business Certificate will be required as part of the bid or proposal submission in order to be deemed a responsive bidder. Any bid or proposal received without a valid certificate that was issued on or before the solicitation end date may be rejected as unresponsive.
Who do I contact if I have trouble completing the self-certification process?
There is an Email Help button at the top right corner of the Small Business Self-Certification Application. Describe your difficulty or problem first in an email to that account. Be specific, and be sure to include your contact name, email address and phone number. A DGS Small Business representative will respond to you either by email or phone to assist.
Can the Small Business Self-Certification Application also certify my business as a Minority (MBE), Woman (WBE), Veteran (VBE), Service Disabled Veteran (SDVE), Disability-Owned (DOBE), or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Business Enterprise (LGBTBE)?
Small business self-certification and verification as an MBE, WBE, VBE, SDVE, DOBE, or LGBTBE through the Small Diverse Business (SDB) belong to two separate programs. The Small Business Program is a race and gender neutral program open to all small businesses that meet the eligibility requirements. However, documentation to verify as an SDB is submitted through the small business self-certification application.
Click here to learn more about verification as a Small Diverse Business.
DGS requires this information to verify that the dollar values entered in Step 1 are true and correct. As stated in the Program Overview and Eligibility Requirements, DGS retains the right to request any documentation required to verify a company’s eligibility for the program
Prior to final submission, you may return to any step of the Small Business self-certification process to make corrections or edits. If you realize a mistake after final submission of your entered information, you must send an email through Email Help describing the mistake and requesting that information be deleted for re-entry and resubmission of your self-certification package.
As long as there is no change of Business Type, you may add and delete codes by returning to the small business application at any time. Log into the PA Supplier Portal and click Bidder > Enterprise Applications > Small & Small Diverse Business Program Application. Re-enter the application, click through the pop-ups, and go directly to the Step 3 tab. Update the appropriate information and "Save and Continue". Click the Step 5 tab to review and submit the profile updates. If the codes you wish to add fall under another business type or entail deleting an entire business type, contact the Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion & Small Business Opportunities to have your certification unlocked prior to making the necessary updates.
The renewal period opens 30 days prior to expiration. You will receive an email reminder from RA-SmallBusiness@pa.gov 30 days and 15 days before the expiration date. See the application guide for step-by-step instructions on returning to the small business self-certification application.
If your company no longer wishes to be self-certified as a Small Business, you have two options: you can simply let your self-certification expire, or you can send a written request through Email Help requesting cancellation of your self-certification.