Let’s suppose that, under your contract, an agency hasn’t properly paid for your work. Or the agency took actions that caused you damages. Can you run off to the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals to register your complaint and recovery your money?
Yes . . . if you’ve taken an important preliminary step: filing a claim with the contracting officer.
When a small business sells products to the government under a contract designated with a manufacturing NAICS code, the small business either must be the “manufacturer” of the products, or separately qualify under the nonmanufacturer rule. The nonmanufacturer rule, in turn, requires the prime contractor to have no more than 500 employees, whereas manufacturers may fall under larger size standards–some as big as 1,500 employees.
But what about an unpopulated joint venture that doesn’t itself manufacture any products, relying on the individual venturers to manufacture the solicited goods? Does it also have to comply with the 500-employee size standard under the nonmanufacturer rule? Or can the joint venture be deemed the “manufacturer” of the products in question?
GAO defers to agencies on many issues related to their procurements. But GAO will intervene when an agency says one thing, in a solicitation, but does another when it evaluates proposals. In other words, GAO will sustain protests when the agencies disregard their own evaluation criteria outlined in a solicitation.
Otherwise, the agency might–even inadvertently–evaluate proposals unequally–a situation that a just and fair procurement system must avoid.
Unless a solicitation for a fixed-price contract provides that the agency can conduct a price realism analysis, it can’t. Even so, agencies sometimes perform this analysis without alerting prospective offerors of the possibility.
If they do, however, the ground is fertile for a protest.
Let’s suppose that you, a small business, were previously awarded a long-term contract set aside for small businesses. But over the past few years, business has been good and you’ve outgrown the size standard assigned to the contract. Can you still be awarded a task order under the contract? Yes–if the contracting officer doesn’t require you to recertify your size in connection with the task order request, and no contract-specific terms–like mandatory off-ramps–say otherwise.
This important principle recently played out in DNT Solutions, LLC et al., SBA No. SIZ-5962 (2018).
When you hear “15 days,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps, you pay your employees every 15 days. Maybe your birthday or favorite holiday happens to be in 15 days. Or if you’re like me, you might think that 15 days is two days fewer than Thirteen Days, a great movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Whatever your brain conjures up, don’t forget this: 15 days is the time limit to appeal an SBA size determination. Period. And nothing the contracting officer says can change it.
Beyond set-aside procurements, the government bolsters small businesses by encouraging their participation in federally-funded research. Two key programs exist: the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program. Ultimately, the government hopes that participating small businesses will commercialize technologies developed with federal research dollars. While the two programs are similar, a key feature distinguishes them: the STTR Program requires a small business to partner with a qualified research institution.
SBA has issued regulations and directives that govern these two programs. Here are five things you should know about the SBIR/STTR Programs.