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About Us > Frequently Asked Questions

Are all contractors for County goods and services procurements required to participate in the SLEB Program?

The following entities are exempt from the Small and Emerging Local Business (SLEB) requirements as described above and are not required to subcontract with a SLEB:

  • non-profit community based organizations (CBO) that are providing services on behalf of the County directly to County clients/residents;
  • non-profit churches or non-profit religious organizations (NPO);
  • public schools; and universities; and
  • government agencies.

Non-profit organizations must provide proof of their tax exempt status. These are defined as organizations that are certified by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as 501(c) 3.

Exempt entities that are certified SLEBS are eligible for a 5% SLEB bid preference on procurements over $25,000 plus a 5% local bid preference on sealed bids (for a total of 10%) except when prohibited by law.

Compliance with the SLEB program is required for architectural, landscape architectural, engineering, environmental, land surveying, and construction project management services projects.

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Are there any exceptions to applying the SLEB Program to County contracts (other than when prohibited by law)?

  • Contracts over $3,000 up to $25,000 that do not include SLEB participation may be approved if additional cost to the County exceeds 10% of the total contract or $3,000 - whichever is less.
  • For contracts over $25,000, the County reserves the right to waive the small/emerging local business participation requirements under the SLEB Program if it results in an additional estimated cost to the County that exceeds five percent (5%) of the total estimated contract amount or Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000), whichever is less.
  • County departments may request SLEB requirements to be waived on a contract by contract basis. Examples of SLEB waivers that may be considered include but are not limited to when...
    • there are no SLEBs available to provide the goods and/or services needed.
    • there are no SLEB subcontracting opportunities available.
    • the purchase is made from a SLEB exempt entity (see below).
    • the purchase is for software licensure.

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How is the SLEB program applied to County procurements?

The SLEB Program applies to all County purchases of goods and services except when prohibited by law.

  • County purchases up to $25,000 are directed to small local emerging businesses.
  • County purchases over $25,000 from non-SLEBs require a minimum 20% SLEB participation.
  • SLEB prime contractors for procurements over $25,000 are eligible for a 5% bid preference.
  • SLEB prime contractors for sealed bid procurements are eligible for an additional 5% bid preference (for a total of 10%).
  • Bid preferences are applied to price when award is based on lowest cost or to evaluation criteria points when award is based on qualifications.

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What is the purpose of the SLEB program?

The purpose of the SLEB program is to provide incentives for Alameda County to assist SLEBs in enhancing their participation in the public procurement process and to provide training and development opportunities to support their growth.

Learn more about SLEB program components.

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What are the benefits of the SLEB program?

Small and Emerging Businesses, local businesses, the community at large, and the County all benefit from the program.

Learn more about the benefits of the program.

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How are suppliers informed about the SLEB program?

County websites, like the County Homepage, GSA Homepage and various GSA Purchasing pages, include information and links to other sites that provide definitions, program parameters, certification requirements, application accessibility and access to information regarding current contracting opportunities.

The County is actively involved in an outreach program that provides information to various community organizations, sends representatives to the cultural chambers of commerce, networking/bid conferences, trade fairs and expositions to explain the program and answer questions.

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What County departments and agencies are involved in the SLEB program?

All County departments and agencies are required to participate in the SLEB program.

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What are the SLEB program's guiding principles?

Vision Statement

It is the organizational vision that the SLEB program is a prominent component in the County's economic development strategy by improving the overall working environment for local, small and emerging businesses located within Alameda County. The County will:

  • Develop and promote economic growth
  • Provide quality information
  • Provide valuable training and other services
  • Automate the contracting process
  • Promote diversity in contracting process
  • Receive quality products and services

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What are the definitions of small, local and emerging businesses?

Local business

A business having a fixed office with street address in Alameda County and having a valid business license issued by the County or a City within Alameda County for at least six months. Local businesses are eligible to receive a 5% sealed bid evaluation preference.

Small business

A business which meets the U.S. Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards for its classification. Certified small businesses are eligible to receive a 5% bid evaluation preference.

Emerging business

A business which meets one half the U.S. Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards for its classification. Certified emerging businesses are eligible to receive a 5% bid evaluation preference. A certified emerging business may qualify as an emerging business for a maximum of 5 years.

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What does Certification Mean?

In an effort to ensure that the County is doing business with authentic small, local emerging business entities, the County shall certify Small and Local Emerging Business enterprises. In addition, the County may collect information regarding minority and women ownership of businesses in order to track and report on their participation.

A business bidding or submitting a proposal as a SLEB shall provide the County with all such additional information as the County may deem relevant to make a determination on the bid/proposal. The County may wish to review the following, among other materials, to determine if the business is operating as a bona fide small local business: commercial advertising, on-site signage, letterhead, marketing materials, listing in the telephone books. Local businesses are eligible to receive a 5% sealed bid evaluation preference. Certified small or emerging businesses are eligible to receive an additional 5% bid evaluation preference for a maximum preference of 10% for each contract. It is recommended that small local emerging businesses begin the certification process prior to submitting a bid or proposal to ensure that they receive all available bid preferences.

Certified small or emerging businesses will eligible to receive a 5% bid evaluation preference. Local businesses will be eligible for a 5% sealed bid evaluation preference. The maximum preference available for each contract is 10%.

The County, upon approval and acceptance of the certification application and necessary documentation, shall provide the SLEB with written document indicating the type of certification granted and the certification period.

Businesses will receive renewal reminder notices prior to their certification expiration date.

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What are the values of the SLEB program?


Alameda County values an open and friendly community free from bigotry and intimidation. We value a community that welcomes and respects the individuality, unique talents and contributions of all people regardless of race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability or any other factor that is prohibited when making business decisions.

Economic Vitality

Alameda County values a strong varied, adaptive and diverse economy that provides employment and training for all individuals, including those who have been possibly excluded from the economic mainstream because of historic patterns of non-acceptance.

Customer Accountability

Alameda County values customer success and seeks to create a contracting environment in which everyone has the opportunity to flourish. At the same time, personal responsibility, and accountability on the part of individual contractors and the ability of the contractor to establish independent, profitable business relationships are also encouraged and valued.

Customer Partnerships

Alameda County values an open, honest government that is responsive to its citizens and tax and rate payers. The County values and desires partnerships with its customers and municipal services that are immediately useable and that will tangibly improve the public contracting environment. Through proactively educating and establishing collaborative alliances with external and internal customers, the County works to ensure full compliance with the SLEB program.


The County values integrity and full disclosure of results. The County does not cover up bad news. While failure is never the desired outcome, learning from previous mistakes in order to improve the future program decision-making process is valued.

Quality and Efficiency

Alameda County values a contracting and procurement environment that is demonstrably effective in its ability to balance social objectives with economic realities.

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What are the objectives of the SLEB program?

  • The SLEB program will promote the development of small, local and emerging businesses in the County through procurement, contracting and other marketing and development opportunities. The assistance shall be provided until SLEBs as a group no longer have a need for such support as evidenced by their achieving parity of utilization in the County's procurement and contracting activities.
  • The SLEB program will continue until its objectives are met and shall maintain sufficient flexibility in order to assure achievement of its purpose while still remaining viable in terms of the needs of the County to transact its business.
  • Maximum countywide utilization of SLEBs; 1% annual increase in the number of certified firms in the database.
  • Develop and employ measures that maximize the utilization of resources that will reduce the general fund operational costs associated with the SLEB Program.
  • Investigate and implement new technology and tools that will maximize the effectiveness of the SLEB Program objectives.

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What are the overall SLEB goals?

  • Maintain the SLEB program website to better outreach, inform and educate SLEB's
  • Work closely with economic development staff to increase opportunities for SLEBs in both private and public sectors. This includes developing partnerships with customers and service providers who enhance the utilization of small businesses
  • Review and analyze patterns of departmental spending and SLEB utilization to establish specific plans and strategies to achieve Board of Supervisors directives
  • Maintain a comprehensive outreach plan to increase the number of County certified firms in the SLEB database
  • Continue to work with the departments to increase their utilization of SLEBs
  • Recognize those departments that have demonstrated exceptional effort in meeting the Board of Supervisor's directives regarding increased SLEB usage.
  • Work with the business and supplier community to formulate plans and strategies that will uplift SLEBs
  • Work with the small business community, labor and the school system to establish a mentor-prot�g� program component to encourage the utilization of SLEBs and foster and entrepreneurial attitude in our youth and community
  • Develop and implement projects that will affect economic development at the local level
  • Identify and seek out revenue sources which can reduce the cost of the SLEB program to the general fund
  • Continue to work with all County departments to achieve the small business utilization goal established by the Program
  • Establish and formulate with service providers the provision of various technical assistance tools seen as needed by the small business sector of the County.

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What are the overall SLEB program goals?

  • Achieve a minimum of 20% SLEB participation level in all County discretionary spending, contracts and awards
  • Achieve and sustain for 3 consecutive years parity in the number of strong competitive economically and culturally diverse firms in the County as demonstrated through bidding patterns and receipt of contracts and dollars in public sector contracting
  • Accurately document and disclose how contracting opportunities in County construction work are distributing and implement contemporaneous corrective strategies where under-utilization is present
  • Monitor and actively address any claims of discrimination related to the County's contracting and procurement systems
  • Increase contracting opportunities to certified SLEBs
  • Align the SLEB Program vision, values and goals to all County projects in their entirety regardless of the funding source.

The participation goal was derived by reviewing and analyzing County business operations, tax data, Federal and State SBA records, local business data and community input. It is anticipated that as the program is fully developed and refined, additional empirical evidence will become available to support the County's subsequent adjustment of the participation goals, if necessary.

Future goals of the SLEB program

  • Research and implement additional program components that will enhance the working environment for SLEBs
  • Implement tools and resources to ensure compliance with the SLEB program through contract monitoring.

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What are the strategic Outcomes?

  • Under-representation of SLEBs in receipt of contracts and dollars at a sub-contractor level shall be eliminated
  • Under-representation of SLEBs shall be eliminated as a result of participation and an increase in the number of economically and culturally diverse individual community contractors shall be realized
  • Certified SLEBs will expand into new specialty areas
  • At least 80% of customers surveyed indicate that County of Alameda SLEB Program has had a positive effect on their business

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Who governs the SLEB program?

The Board of Supervisors

  • Responsible for all policy decisions relative to the program and establishing and or modifying of overall annual SLEB participation goals

Auditor-Controller Agency, SLEB Certification Unit

  • Small Local and Emerging Business Certification

Auditor-Controller Agency, Office of Contract Compliance & Reporting (OCCR)

  • Compile SLEB statistics and report utilization to the Board of Supervisors and others
  • Maintain administrative procedures, tools and resources for managing and enhancing program compliance
  • Oversee compliance monitoring efforts of County departments
  • Provide contract compliance training, support, resources and tools to County departments

GSA-Office of Acquisition Policy (OAP)

  • Conducting outreach to SLEBs
  • Providing business training and development opportunities for SLEBs
  • Providing assistance to SLEBs to facilitate a better understanding of the County's procedures and contracting practices

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What does being "certified" mean to my business?

  • Being certified means you are eligible to receive up to 10% in bid preferences providing a you with a competitive advantage
  • As a certified business you become a primary source for County departments to purchase needed supplies and services

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Who is eligible to become certified?

Businesses that meet the definition of a local small or local emerging (above) will be considered for County certification.

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What are the benefits of being a County certified SLEB?

  • Access to County contracting opportunities
  • Inclusion in the County's Local Supplier Database available on the Internet
  • Eligible for up to 10% in bid preferences when competing against non-certified SLEBs
  • Resources, including educational and training opportunities to increase capacity and learn how to do business with the County
  • Increased visibility and access to County contacts

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How long does it take to become certified?

The certification process may take up to 45 days to complete depending on whether or not additional information and/or documentation is required following the initial receipt of the application. It is recommended that small local emerging businesses begin the process and become certified prior to submitting bids or proposals.

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What is the certification time period?

Depending on a number of factors, businesses may be certified for one to three years or in conjunction with a contract term that they are participating in. Businesses can be certified as Emerging for a maximum of 5 years and then may be certified as a Small business if required criteria are met.

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How do certified businesses hear about County contracting opportunities?

Certified SLEBs may be automatically notified via email about current contracting opportunities (or may opt out of this service) or check the Current Contracting Opportunities website. Requests for bids and proposals are also posted in multiple local ethnic publications and numerous local Chambers of Commerce and other business/trade organizations. Networking/bid conference meetings are posted on the Calendar of Events. Contact the OAP for more information regarding contracting opportunities.

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Who do certified businesses contact for help in submitting a bid or proposal?

GSA Purchasing issues the majority of requests for bids and proposals and is available to provide assistance. Check the bid/proposal request for a contact name and information. The GSA Office of Acquisition Policy (OAP) may also be able to assist you with general information related to the competitive process.

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Can non-certified businesses participate in County contracts?

Yes. Non-SLEB prime contractors are required to subcontract a minimum of 20% of contract awards over $25,000 with a certified small local emerging business. See the individual request for bid or proposal for specific provisions and project requirements.

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