OHA: Owners Did Not Have Enough Managerial Experience to Qualify Concern as a WOSB

SBA’s socio-economic set-aside programs mandate compliance with multiple control requirements. An important one stipulates that a woman owner of a WOSB (or a veteran for a SDVOSB or a disadvantaged owner for an 8(a) business) must have the “managerial experience of the extent and complexity to run the concern.”

But what, exactly, does this requirement entail? A recent OHA case provides some important guidance.

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OHA: Engine Repair Isn’t the Same as Engine Overhaul for NAICS Code Purposes

Contracting officers are given significant discretion in choosing NAICS codes for procurements. But, as decision makers, they aren’t infallible. As a recent OHA case shows, using the NAICS Manual can help small business contractors challenge an incorrect NAICS code.

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CBCA Rules that Claims Discovered During Appeal Were Not Time-Barred

The Contract Disputes Act requires a contractor to present a claim to the contracting officer “within 6 years after the accrual of the claim.” 41 U.S.C. 7103(a)(4)(A). But a claim doesn’t typically accrue until the contractor should have known that it was damaged by the Government.

As discussed below, some legal claims might not arise until a contractor takes discovery in an appeal already before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals.

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Court of Federal Claims Decision Lends Support to VA’s SDVOSB Tiered Evaluation Scheme

In late 2017, we wrote that the VA was considering using tiered evaluations to simultaneously 1) comply with the VA’s statutory Rule of Two (and Kingdomware), and 2) address situations in which SDVOSBs and VOSBs might not offer “fair and reasonable” pricing.

Since then, the VA has instituted the tiered evaluation process for certain solicitations, using one of three approaches:

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GAO Won’t Let Agencies Sweep Solicitation Non-Compliance Under the Rug

An agency can’t award an offeror a contract if its proposal doesn’t conform with a material solicitation requirement. So if, for example, the solicitation requires certain types of documentation showing an offeror’s right to use property, but the awardee offers something different, GAO will likely sustain a protest.

Put differently, GAO won’t let an agency relax key solicitation requirements even though the agency might, during evaluation, accept the non-complying proposal.

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GAO: Agencies Can’t Blindly Rely on Adjectival Ratings to Make Award Decisions

In evaluating proposals, an agency will sometimes use “adjectival ratings” (e.g., Excellent, Good, Acceptable) to describe its assessment of a proposal or portions of a proposal. But, importantly, an agency cannot evade its responsibility to reasonably evaluate proposals–based on the articulated evaluation criteria–by deferring solely to the assigned adjectival ratings.

In other words, if the agency doesn’t perform a true qualitative assessment, but instead relies on mere labels to make its ultimate award decision, GAO will likely slap the agency’s hand.

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Inconsistency Killed the Cat: GAO Sustains Protest Where Agency Inconsistently Evaluated Proposal

GAO generally defers to an agency’s judgment when it comes to the evaluation of proposals. This deference flags, however, when an agency evaluates competing proposals inconsistently; or, in other words, treats offerors disparately.

Let’s take a look at how GAO, in a recently sustained protest, found that the agency’s evaluation was unreasonable.

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