5 Things You Should Know: Contract Claims (The Basics)

As a contractor, you strive to do the best job for the fairest price and to develop a good working relationship with the government. But in government contracts—like in any other—disputes sometimes arise. So what’s the best way to protect your interests under the contract?

Here are five things you should know about the basics of claims:

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Federal Circuit Affirms Sole-Source Justification

Not too many government contracting disputes make it to a federal court of appeals—the level just a step below the U.S. Supreme Court. The most notable recent examples would probably be the Federal Circuit’s decision in Kingdomware Technologies (which, as SmallGovCon readers know, was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court in 2016) and the D.C. Circuit’s decision Rothe Development (which the Supreme Court declined to consider).

But recently, the Federal Circuit issued a decision of note to government contractors. In AgustaWestland North America v. United States, the Court issued guidance on what constitutes a “procurement decision” and upheld the Army’s decision to buy helicopters on a sole-source basis.

Let’s take a look.

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5 Things You Should Know: HUBZone Program (The Basics)

5 Things has previously discussed 8(a) Program basics and eligibility requirements. But the 8(a) Program isn’t the only socioeconomic program benefiting small businesses. In this post, we’ll begin exploring another crucial program for small businesses: the Historically Underutilized Business Zone—or HUBZone—program.

Here are five things you should know about the HUBZone program.

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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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2018 NDAA: Congress Enacts Changes to DoD Debriefings

Almost a year ago, we wrote of a memorandum from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy urging agencies to strengthen the debriefing process. OFPP’s rationale was simple: because effective debriefings tend to reduce the number of protests, agencies should be inclined to enhance the debriefing process.

Congress seems to have taken note: the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Department of Defense to make significant improvements to the debriefing process.  That said, those improvements are limited to large DoD acquisitions, leaving many small businesses stuck with the much more limited debriefing rights currently available under the FAR.

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5 Things You Should Know: 8(a) Program Eligibility

In a recent post, I discussed the basics about SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. This follow-up posts discusses 8(a) eligibility requirements in greater detail.

To qualify for the 8(a) Program, a firm must be a small business that is unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially- and economically-disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and citizens of the United States and that demonstrates a potential for success.

What does this really mean? Here are five things you should know about 8(a) Program eligibility.

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GAO: 8(a) Sole-Source Set-Aside Proper Notwithstanding Prior Intent

As a general rule, the SBA is prohibited from accepting a solicitation into the 8(a) Business Development Program if the procuring agency previously expressed publicly a clear intent to award the contract as a small business set-aside.

On its face, this restriction seems clear. In practice, it can be anything but—the inquiry usually focuses on whether the agency’s prior intent was definitive enough to count.

In SKC, LLC, B-415151 (Nov. 20, 2017), GAO provided important clarity about this restriction.

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