Small Business First Program

Small Business First Program

With the Small Business First program, the University of California is committing to providing contracting and procurement opportunities with certified Small Businesses (SBs), Microbusinesses (MBs), and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBEs). The University has established the Small Business First policy to increase the utilization of these businesses in alignment with UC’s sustainability goals and overall mission.

UC Irvine's collective commitment through the launch of this program is intended to leverage our purchasing power by creating more performance opportunities keeping small businesses open, where they can operate, and thrive. You have the power to create jobs, change lives, and bring hope when considering sourcing locally from certified businesses.

Where Should You Begin?

As of March 1, 2021, all non-construction UC contracts and procurements between $10,000 to $250,000 that cannot be procured via an existing strategically-sourced agreement must be awarded to a SB/MB or DVBE, wherever practicable.

This informal solicitation process requires only one (1) quote for purchases below $100,000, and only two (2) quotes for procurements above $100,000, with some waivers and exemptions allowed (see details below).

California Public Contract Code Section 10508.5 allows the University to award purchase agreements valued up to $250,000 to a certified SB/MB/DVBE without being competitively bid, so long as the University obtains price quotations from two or more certified businesses. 

The process and requirements for using the Small Business First program are outlined in BUS-43 (pdf). 

Learn more about the Small Business First program.

These agreements are exempt from the Small Business First policy and do not require a waiver:

  • Purchases that are emergency in nature
  • Purchases through existing strategically-sourced agreements
  • Federally funded purchases
  • Design and construction*
  • Interagency agreements
  • Federal/local government agreements
  • Research sub-awards
  • Higher education institution agreements
  • Concessions (food/beverage)
  • Revenue/reimbursement contracts
  • Medical and patient care contracts
  • Statutorily-exempt, policy-exempt, emergency, proprietary, and/or local assistance/subvention procurements

*All contracting for construction is governed by the UC Facilities Manual and its associated policies and templates.

We have compiled a list of certifed small business in various commodities to assist in your search. All of the vendors are already onboarded and can be found in KFS.

Search for certified SBs/MBs or DVBEs through single sign-on or contact us for further assistance. Please review UCOP's training videos for Explorer i.o. and Cal eProcure.

There are instances where the Small Business First program may not be feasible, or when contracting with businesses other than a certified SB/MB/DVBE is justified. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Industries where at least two (2) SBs/MBs or two (2) DVBEs are not available; or
  • Business needs that dictate requirements that cannot be met by a SB/MB/DVBE.

Learn how to fill out the Waiver by watching the short video below and by viewing our example waiver form.

Tips on expediting your waiver request:

  • Fill out all fields; blank fields will result in returned waiver
  • Include your search results (do not search for a business name, instead the goods or services you are trying to purchase)
  • Attach Statement of Work or a quote with breakdown of fees
  • Quotes from other other businesses, if applicable
  • Attach the Source Selection Price Resonableness (SSPR) form if purchase is over $100,000
  • Attach any additional documents, emails, etc. that will help with justification determination
  • Lack of planning does not constitute a true emergency exemption

In these situations, the Small Business First Waiver (DocuSign PowerForm) must be approved by Procurement Services prior to making a purchase or establishing a contract with a company that is not a SB/MB/DVBE. Please DO NOT initiate your own DocuSign request. All Waiver submissions must be through this DocuSign PowerForm. To ensure your Waiver request is fulfilled in a timely manner, make sure to fill out the entire form and attach search results and SOW before submitting.

Please note that the Source Selection Price Resonableness (SSPR) form is required for any purchase over $100,000 in addition to the SBF Waiver. 

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