The U.S. Department of Education late last week published a list of companies that won contract awards under the small business set-aside on its Default Collection Services contract and private collection agency (PCA) program.

Beginning next year, there will be 11 small business collection agencies on the contract. The previous contract featured only five.

ED began notifying the collection agencies last week. On Friday, the agency posted the details of the contract award and the companies receiving it.

In November 2013, the potential small business pool was reduced to 12 from the 23 that qualified to submit bids. Those 12 moved on to Phase II of the procurement process. All but one got a place on the contract.

The small business collectors named by ED are:

  • Action Financial Services
  • Bass & Associates
  • Central Research
  • Coast Professional
  • Credit Adjustments
  • FH Cann & Associates
  • Immediate Credit Recovery
  • National Credit Services, Inc.
  • National Recoveries
  • Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland
  • Reliant Capital Solutions

Of the 11, three are currently on the small business set-aside of the debt collection contract: Coast Professional, Immediate Credit Recovery, and National Recoveries. The other two collection agencies in the current small business pool qualified for unrestricted size consideration.

Partnering with 11 small businesses is a significant expansion on that side of the contract. Earlier iterations of the debt collection contract had only five small businesses with as many as 17 on the unrestricted (large companies) side.

The Department of Education has long discussed how to better involve small businesses in its contracting. In between contract awards, ED launched a formal subcontracting program for small businesses not on the contract. Subcontracting was even part of performance scores that determined bonuses and placement volumes.

“Awards to 11 of the original 23 bidders represents an affirmation of ED’s previously stated strategy of greater inclusion of small businesses in the PCA initiative,” said Nick Bernardo, member of Fed Cetera, a firm that helps companies in the industry tap into Federal contracting and subcontracting opportunities.  “Leah Wilson Conger and I are pleased to have been a part of helping some of the awarded companies succeed in this growing receivables market over the last few years, and would like to formally congratulate all small businesses who won an award after two years of hard work in the bid process.”

On the unrestricted side, ED previously approved more than 40 companies to move on to Phase II of the process. It remains to be seen how many of those will be named to the contract. ED could similarly expand the number of large companies working on its debt, stand pat at roughly 17, or even contract the number of unrestricted companies to bring parity to the two sides.

The unrestricted contract is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.


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