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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The following FAQs will be updated as questions are received; please check back for updates!
Last Updated Date: 10/26/2012
 
What is the Small Business Procurement Initiative?
In November of 2011, Governor Corbett issued Executive Order 2011-09:  Small Business Procurement Initiative. This Order directed the Department of General Services (DGS) to develop and implement policy initiatives to increase opportunities for small businesses to compete for award of Commonwealth contracts as prime contractors.  The result is the DGS’ Small Business Procurement Initiative, a program designed to reserve certain state contracting opportunities for competition among only self-certified small businesses.
 
Does self-certifying for the SBPI 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 Commonwealth is governed by law.  While the SBPI 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 Commonwealth 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 this 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, call 717.346.2676 (or toll free at 877.435.7363) and select Option 1. A representative will lead you through some security questions and will be able to reset and email you your username information. For password assistance, go to the PA Supplier Portal Login Page, and click the link for “Change Password” to be guided through the process for selecting a new password.
 
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 SBPI Self-Certification Application?
Once you have confirmed your vendor number, return and log in to the Supplier Portal.  In the upper left hand corner, click “Enterprise Applications.”  From there, you will be directed to a menu of options.  Select “Small Business Procurement Initiative.”
 
Are there any documents I need to prepare before accessing the SBPI Self-Certification Application?
Yes.  The SBPI Self-Certification Application requires the upload of certain tax documentation for the purposes of verifying your company’s annual gross sales.  The following portions of your federal tax return will be requested:
  • Pages 1-5 of Federal form 1120 or 1120S, the U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return
  • Pages 1-5 of Federal form 1065, the U.S. Return of Partnership Income
  • Pages 1-2 of Federal form 1040 schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, Sole Proprietorship
You may redact your federal tax identification number if desired. Acceptable file formats for upload include PDF, JPG or TIF.
 
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 the SBPI Help account.
 
What if I do not have the capability to scan or create these documents for upload?
Use the SBPI Email Help button to email the SBPI 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 SBPI Certificate, self-certification is valid for a period of one (1) calendar year from the date of issuance.  The SBPI Self-Certification Application will email your business thirty (30) days prior to your certification expiration with instructions for re-certifying.
 
How will I confirm that I have successfully self-certified?
The SBPI Self-Certification Application will send a confirmation email to the email address entered in the application that contains a link to your SBPI Certificate.  Be sure to save that email, as you can return to it to reprint your SBPI Certificate as needed.
 
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, log back into the SBPI 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 Procurement Initiative Certificate required in order to be allowed to bid on Small Business contracts?
Yes.  A valid DGS SBPI 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 “SBPI Email Help” button at the top right corner of the SBPI 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-SBPI representative will respond to you either by email or phone to assist.
 
My business is already DGS-certified as a minority-owned business enterprise (MBE).  Do I still need to self-certify in the SBPI Self-Certification Application to bid on Small Business projects?
Yes.  The SBPI is a race and gender neutral program open to all small businesses that meet the eligibility requirements.  DGS-certified minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses interested in competing for these prime contracting opportunities must complete the self-certification process.
 
Can the SBPI Self-Certification Application also certify my business as woman-owned (WBE)?
No.  The SBPI is a race and gender neutral program open to all small businesses that meet the eligibility requirements.  To further certify as a minority-, woman-, veteran-, or service-disabled veteran-owned small business, see the Bureau of Small Business Opportunities website for additional information.
 
Why am I required to upload tax return documents as part of the SBPI self-certification process?
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
 
I do not have my company’s tax returns in electronic format, nor do I have the ability to scan them. May I still have my business certified and to whom do I submit the required paperwork?
Yes. Use the SBPI Email Help button as indicated above to request assistance in uploading the required documentation to verify your company’s gross sales.
 
If I make a mistake when entering information in the SBPI Self-Certification Application, how can I make corrections?
Prior to final submission, you may return to any step of the SPBI 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 SBPI Email Help describing the mistake and requesting that information be deleted for re-entry and resubmission of your self-certification package.
 
What if I no longer wish to be self-certified for the SBPI?
If your company no longer wishes to be self-certified for the SBPI, you have two options:  you can simply let your self-certification expire; or you can send a written request through SBPI Email Help requesting cancellation of your self-certification.
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