Contracting with Corps: What constitutes a small business?

Published May 1, 2012

In these tough economic times, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District encourages small businesses to expand their customer base and consider the federal government as a source of business. – USACE Galveston District Ken Adams, Deputy for Small Business 

Q:  What constitutes a small business?

A. Many factors are considered when determining if a business is a small business, however for federal purposes, a small business is established by either the average number of employees over the past 12 months or if the average annual revenue over the past three years is less than the North American Industry Classification System designated amount for a small business (  Additionally, a small business is organized for profit, has a place of business in the U.S., operates primarily within the U.S. (or makes a significant contributions to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor), is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field on a national basis, and may be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation etc.  Interested owners who would like more information concerning what constitutes a small business, visit  or call the Deputy for Small Business, Kenneth Adams, at 409-766-3006

Q: What is the basic process for a small business to register with the federal government?

A. Registering your business with the federal government is made easy through the Small Business Administration (SBA) database called the Central Contractors Registration (located at  It is imperative that small businesses register with the CCR as federal agencies cannot award any contract to a business unless it is registered in this database and has been issued a Data Universal Numbering System (that assigns a unique numeric identifier to a single business entity).  Additionally, all small businesses must be SBA certified before they are recognized by any federal agencies. 

Q: After registering with the SBA’s CCR database, what’s next?

A. Small businesses are advised to visit the federal agencies websites it wishes to conduct business with to determine if their products and services are used or if its technology would help the agency to become more efficient in cost and/or productivity.   If you believe your small business fits the criteria, contact

Q: Which small business categories are recognized by the USACE Galveston District?

A. The small business categories that the USACE Galveston District recognizes are determined by federal guidelines and include:  Small Business; Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SBA’s 8(a) program); Women-Owned Small Businesses; Hubzone Small Businesses; Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and Historically Black College Universities and Minority Institutions (HBCU/MI). 

Q:  What are the advantages of registering as a small business?

A. USACE Galveston District participates in a “Set-Aside Program” (for all the small business categories above except HBCU/MI) that allows the Corps to classify contracts as “only open for competition purposes” to small businesses.  Additionally, the Corps may also award contracts on a sole source basis to any 8(a) small business (other than architectural and engineering contracts) amounts less than $4 million.  The Set-Aside Program helps to ensure that small businesses are awarded a fair proportion of government contracts by setting aside select government purchases exclusively for participation by small businesses.  For more information about Set-Aside Programs visit the Federal Business Opportunities website at

Q:  Why does the federal government recognize small businesses?

A. Small businesses remain vital to the economic growth of the Texas Gulf Coast Region and our nation.  According to the SBA Office of Advocacy’s 2011 Small Business Profile, Texas small businesses account for a significant share of the state’s economic production and hiring, with small businesses totaling 2.2 million and accounting for 45.9 percent of private-sector jobs in the state in 2008.  During fiscal year 2010, the USACE Galveston District awarded nearly $116 million in contracts to small businesses and more than $11 million in FY11 thus far. 

Understanding the significant role small businesses play in the state’s economy, the USACE Galveston District continues to perform market research to identify small businesses to support efforts within the district (which covers 16 congressional districts in Texas) and encourages small businesses to enroll in the SBA the program. 

For more information, contact Ken Adams at 409-766-3006 or For more news and information, find us on Facebook,, or follow us on Twitter,