SBA Proposes Big Changes to the HUBZone Program

The SBA’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone program intends well—by directing awards to contractors in regions that have been passed by economically, the federal government has tried to lift these areas up. But the HUBZone program has exacting regulations, which (ironically) have helped cause it to be an underutilized tool for contracting officers. This could soon change.

On October 31, the SBA published a proposed rule that, if adopted, would bring clarity to the HUBZone regulations. In this post, we wanted to bring you up to speed on some of the more substantive proposed changes regarding certification requirements and the HUBZone protest process. Changes to employee definitions and requirements will be handled in another post.

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GAO Recommends Successful Protester Be Placed in MATOC Pool

Multiple-award task-order contracts are becoming an increasingly common feature of government contracting, and many carry very high ceiling values. This places participation in MATOC awards at a premium.

Unsurprisingly, base MATOC awards are being protested with some frequency before GAO. In a recent decision, GAO provided a unique solution for sustaining MATOC protests without causing substantial disruptions: simply adding the successful protester to the pool.

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Protester Must Wait for Conclusion of Extended Debriefing to Protest, Says GAO

As those familiar with government contracts are undoubtedly aware, ensuring a bid protest is timely filed with GAO is a paramount consideration. GAO takes a particularly dim view of protests not filed in accordance with its timeliness regulations, which can encourage parties to file a protest as quickly as possible. As GAO recently explained, however, in the context of extended debriefings, there is such a thing as filing too soon.

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GAO Reviews Agency Actions in the Wake of Equifax Data Breach

It’s easy to forget that roughly a year ago, Equifax was hacked, which compromised the personal information of roughly 145.5 million individuals. The scope of the breach was concerning for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Equifax was providing identity verification services for three federal agencies at the time it was attacked.

In a recent report, GAO reviewed how these agencies responded to the attack. While not making any specific recommendations at this time, GAO’s report does highlight the extent to which federal agencies were not fully prepared for cyberattacks on private contractors.

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GAO: Protest Sustained Where Agency Improperly Applied Adjectival Ratings

Recently, GAO sustained a bid protest where the ratings assigned to the unsuccessful offeror’s proposal did not conform to the definitions identified within the Solicitation.

For those of you frequent the blog, you may recall earlier this year when we blogged on GAO’s decision in Immersion Consulting, LLC, B-415155 et al. (Dec. 4, 2017) where the Source Selection Authority had unilaterally revised the Source Selection Evaluation Board’s evaluation prior to making an award decision. GAO sustained the protest and instructed the agency to reevaluate proposals. This same procurement was subject to another round of protests following the agency’s reevaluation.

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GAO: Agency’s Reevaluation Didn’t Address “Widespread Discrepancies” in Awardee’s Proposal

When an agency reevaluates proposals in response to a protest, the reevaluation must be thorough and reasonable.

In a recent GAO bid protest decision, GAO sustained a protest because the agency’s reevaluation of proposals, undertaken after a protest was sustained, did not reasonably address “widespread discrepancies” in the awardee’s proposal.

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OHA Lacks Jurisdiction to Hear HUBZone Status Appeals

While the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals hears appeals for many of the SBA’s programs, there are certain decisions that remain outside of its purview.

As one protester was surprised to learn, among those items outside of OHA’s jurisdiction are appeals of the HUBZone status determinations.

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