Small Business GAO Bid Protests Are Less Successful, RAND Study Says

GAO bid protests filed by small businesses are (statistically speaking) less likely to succeed than protests filed by large contractors, according to the RAND Corporation’s recent bid protest study.

The disparity isn’t the result of discrimination against small businesses, but rather a product of other factors: primarily, the motivation to protest, the understanding of the protest system, and access to legal counsel.  RAND raises an important point, but offers no fair and easy solution.  Perhaps, given that protests overall are “exceedingly uncommon,” a solution isn’t needed–but it’s wise to think about whether there are ways to help small businesses become better educated about bid protests.

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2018 NDAA: Changes to the HUBZone Program

The HUBZone program has received its fair share of coverage on our blog, from recommended changes in the 35% employee-location requirement to SBA regulatory updates to the program. Well, the HUBZone program is once again undergoing some changes thanks to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act–but note that these changes are not effective until January 1, 2020.

These changes include a requirement for an improved online mapping tool, a mandate that HUBZone verifications be processed in 60 days, and more. Here’s a look at some of the most significant HUBZone changes in the 2018 NDAA.

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SmallGovCon Week In Review: January 15-19, 2018

Will they or won’t they? That is the question looming today, which is the deadline to temporarily halt a partial shutdown of the government. While we keep our eyes on news from Washington, we have other noteworthy news and commentary in this edition of SmallGovCon Week In Review.

This week, we have stories about the implementation of the so-called “Amazon Amendment,” a new bill aims to improve transparency surrounding change orders, a large business pays $1.7 million to settle allegations of overcharges on a GSA Schedule contract, and more.

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Bid Protest Report Gives Insight into COFC Protests

When we write about bid protest decisions on SmallGovCon, odds are that we’re writing about a GAO decision. For good reason: GAO is the most common forum protesters bring bid protests.

But SmallGovCon readers also know there’s another possible forum for protests: the Court of Federal Claims.

The GAO publishes an annual bid protest report with statistics about the number and effectiveness rate of protests, among other things. But until very recently, we didn’t have much hard data about the frequency and efficacy of COFC protests. The recently-released RAND bid protest report changed that, by including a deep dive on DoD bid protests at COFC.

Let’s take a look.

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VA Proposes Expanded “Good Character” SDVOSB Exclusions

The VA has proposed expanding its definition of the “good character” required to own or control an SDVOSB or VOSB.

The VA’s proposed rule would exclude many people convicted of felonies (including felonies unrelated to business integrity), which may raise questions about the rule’s fairness.  And I have to wonder–is the VA’s proposal consistent with the Congressional directive requiring the VA to use the SBA’s SDVOSB eligibility rules?

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Agencies Cannot Circumvent AbilityOne by Bundling, GAO Confirms

The FAR mandates that agencies use the AbilityOne program to award contracts for items on the AbilityOne procurement list to qualified nonprofits. The purpose of the program is to increase employment and training opportunities for persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities.

With rare exceptions, when an item is on the AbilityOne procurement list, an agency has no choice–it must purchase through AbilityOne, even where the AbilityOne items are included in the procurement of larger services.  The GAO recently sustained a protest where the GSA awarded a courthouse lease without requiring that the associated custodial services be procured from an AbilityOne nonprofit.

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