Redesigning the Government
A case study on building HUBFinder, a one-stop platform for managing the SBA HUBZone program.It’s no secret that the current Small Business Administration (SBA) HUBZone Map is not easy to use. There are a lot of technical glitches and restraints with the current map. For example, if you you accidentally type in an incorrect address, there isn’t a built-in autocorrect to redirect to the correct address. As a user, you may not immediately catch a typo or error that hinders you from getting in the HUBZone program since HUBZone tracts can be specific to exact city blocks or a side of the street. [caption id="attachment_429" align="alignright" width="296"] HUBFinder v1.0 (IA) Information Architecture of the HUBZone Map Structure[/caption] As a HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zones) certified firm, Fearless has become very well-acquainted with the SBA program. We initially started off rebuilding the HUBZone map internally for ourselves. Because map visualizations fall under our Presentation specialty, Fearless is always excited about utilizing the superb geospatial developers on our team. After we rebuilt the map, we looked for additional ways to simplify the mapping experience. Since a user new to the program does not understand the difference between a Qualified Census Tract, a Qualified County, or a Redesignated Tract Area, we wanted break things all the way down to the terminology that they would intuitively understand. However, our ultimate goal was to take HUBFinder further than just a map. We wanted a comprehensive system for managing an entire company’s compliance, program, employees, and recertification. We wanted a networking platform that could bring together companies and opportunities, employees and employers, contractors and subcontractors. We wanted an exploratory tool for new users to understand, discover, and apply for HUBZone status. Some of that we’ve accomplished with the product you see today at hubfinder.io; however, we are only at the beginning.
Death to Spreadsheets: Compliance In a BoxAfter we recreated the map as a proof of concept, we decided to tackle the next and most difficult hurdle for HUBZone companies -- compliance management. Receiving a HUBZone certification is an exciting moment for any company, since they are now equipped with additional competition ammo when submitting for contract bids. However, maintaining that hard-earned compliance throughout the following years is both complicated and extremely laborious, especially if you have a large team. To better understand the requirements that must be maintained to stay HUBZone-compliant, below is a list provided by the SBA:
- It must be a small business by SBA standards
- It must be owned and controlled at least 51% by U.S. citizens, or a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe
- Its principal office must be located within a "Historically Underutilized Business Zone," which includes lands considered “Indian Country” and military facilities closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act
- At least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone.