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Small Business First Program

The University of California is committed to doing business in an equitable and sustainable manner by working with small, local and diverse businesses. In accordance with state and federal law, UC ensures all business enterprises have equal access to business contracting opportunities at the university.

Small Business First is a “set aside” program that increases contracting and procurement opportunities for certified Small Businesses (SB) and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBE) by using a streamlined quotation process. The direct quotation-to-award approach makes the procurement process faster and easier.

Small Business First calls for all non-construction UC contracts and procurements between $10,000 and $250,000 to be awarded to an SB or DVBE when applicable.

To make an award, only one quote is required for purchases below $100,000 and only two quotes are required for procurements from $100,000 to $250,000.

Small and diverse businesses, like all potential goods and services providers to the university, should register as a potential supplier with the university via CalUsource. The university posts various solicitations online via our UC-wide public bid site and individual campus procurement sites.

Small and diverse businesses must also register with their state small business certification program as the UC uses these certifying agencies to verify the eligibility of suppliers. The UC does not self-certify small and diverse businesses outside of state certification programs. California companies can register at the Cal eProcure site.

Before You Start, Review Exemptions

Checking exemptions first ensures you are not completing any unnecessary work and that your purchasing process goes as efficiently as possible. The exemptions to the Small Business First program are:

  • Strategically sourced agreements
  • Federally funded purchases
  • Construction (orders processed through Design & Construction Management)
  • Concessions
  • Interagency agreements
  • Local/federal government agreements
  • Higher education institution agreement
  • Research sub-awards
  • Medical and patient care
  • Revenue/reimbursement agreements

Exemptions Include University Agreement and Bobcat Buy Purchases

If you are purchasing from Bobcat Buy or against a strategically sourced agreement (systemwide and local) in the Oracle Financial System, the Small Business First program policies do not apply.

Enter Exemption Reason

If the purchase is exempt and you are not using Bobcat Buy or citing an existing purchasing agreement, add a note to your ServiceNow ticket Requisition or Purchase Agreement in the Notes and Attachments section identifying why the purchase is not subject to the Small Business First program, such as:

  • Not subject to Small Business First program, as federal funds are being used for this purchase.
  • These items will be purchased through a strategically sourced agreement. Therefore, this purchase is not subject to Small Business First program.

Exemptions Don't Apply? Gather Quotes Document

If none of the exemptions apply, a ServiceNow Requisition or Purchase Agreement is to be completed, citing a certified Small Business or Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise. It is important that the small business is certified by either a state or the US Federal Government. Supplier self-certification is not allowed.

Add Certification Documentation

  1. In the Attachments section of the ServiceNow ticket, upload documentation indicating the business is a certified Small Business (SB) or Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE). You can find certifications on the State of California Cal-eProcure website or by requesting access to at Each allows you to search by business name, certifications, commodities, etc.
  2. Once you’ve found the business, select it and print the certification or a screenshot indicating that the business is certified.
  3. Attach the printed screen certification(s) to your ServiceNow! ticket.

Attach Price Quote(s)

One or two price quotes from a certified Small Business or Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) are required, depending on the purchase price:

  • Between $10,000 and under $100,000: One price quote
  • Between $100,000 up to $250,000: Two price quotes (required from the same type of business, either an SB or DVBE. They cannot be one quote from an SB and one from a DVBE.)

The required quote(s) must be attached to the ServiceNow ticket.

Requesting a Waiver/Exception to Policy

If you believe you have a legitimate business reason why your purchase cannot use a Small Business or DVBE business, a completed and signed waiver must be completed and attached to the ServiceNow ticket. UC Procurement Services offers a reference guide, lists of current supplier agreements with UC locations, and searchable databases for suppliers, along with related resources. 

The waiver will be reviewed by the UC Merced Senior Contract Manager or designee. If the waiver is disapproved, the purchase will be awarded to a certified Small Business (SB) or Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE).

More Information

Contact Senior Contract Manager Theresa Mason ( for more information on the benefits of using these types of businesses, as well as additional ways to locate them.

We appreciate your support and compliance with the UC Small Business First program!