VA Updates, Expands, and Clarifies Its Verification Assistance Briefs

The VA and SBA have numerous regulations defining the eligibility requirements for participation in the veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small business programs. To help laypersons better understand these regulatory hurdles the VA publishes Verification Assistance Briefs. These “are resources to assist applicants in obtaining VA Verification for the Veterans First Contracting Program” and understand SBA’s ownership and control criteria. The VA recently updated all of its existing Briefs and added some new ones. Read on for an overview of the 26 Briefs and a more detailed look at some of the more notable ones.

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SBA Proposes Changes to Nonmanufacturer Rule and Limitations on Subcontracting

The SBA recently proposed regulatory changes for a number of small business rules. While my colleagues have addressed some of the other big changes, I’ll focus on changes to the nonmanufacturer rule and limitations on subcontracting. The SBA noted that these changes are meant to eliminate confusion and streamline both processes. Keep reading to see if you agree.

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House Passes Bill Supporting Women’s Business Centers

In a slew of recent activity, H.R.4405, the Women’s Business Centers Improvements Act of 2019, sponsored by Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), was one of many bills to pass the House of Representatives. Most notably, the bill doubles the available grant monies for each Women’s Business Center (“WBC”) and introduces an accreditation program for WBCs. These components, if approved, will help WBCs better serve women-owned businesses across the nation. This post will also highlight some aspects of this already helpful resource.

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GAO Finds NASA Effectively Evaluated Risks of the Unknown

NASA is going back to the moon and is looking for private companies to help get it there. In 2018, NASA awarded nine IDIQ Commercial Lunar Payload Service contracts for commercial payload delivery services between the Earth and the lunar surface. This is a sea-change for NASA as “no [United States] commercial company has ever attempted to launch, transit, and land” on the moon. Prior to award, NASA asked for task order proposals to include a description of risks and mitigation efforts. You might be asking–how can NASA effectively evaluate risk for something that has not been done before? A protester asked the same question, but GAO agreed with NASA’s risk analysis on the project and found the protester’s questions to be mere disagreement with the evaluation.

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SBA Takes Action Following OIG Investigation of Suspension and Debarment Process

On September 18, 2019, SBA’s Office of Inspector General released an Audit Report summarizing a recent audit of SBA’s Suspension and Debarment Process. The purpose of the audit was to determine whether SBA “had sufficient controls in place to prevent suspended or debarred entities from receiving federal contracts through SBA’s preference contracting programs and small business loans.” Through its investigation, OIG discovered SBA lent and awarded millions of dollars to businesses otherwise ineligible to receive these funds under SBA’s suspension and debarment guidelines. While SBA disagreed with some of OIG’s findings, SBA did agree to take some steps to address OIG’s findings and recommendations.

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GAO Walks the Line on Whether Facility Clearance is Proposal Acceptability or Responsibility Matter

Your small business is interested in submitting a proposal that requires a Department of Defense Facilities Clearance (FCL). While you will not have the required FCL when proposals are due, you have applied for the FCL and all signs indicate you will have the FCL by the time contract performance begins. In this scenario, can the agency outright deny your proposal or would it have to refer your proposal to the SBA for a certificate of competency? Turns out, it all hinges on whether GAO views the FCL requirement as a matter of proposal acceptability or corporate responsibility.

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GAO Defers to SBA’s Interpretation of Runway Extension Act

The Runway Extension Act has been a hot topic for federal government contractors. And as of this writing, the issue of the Act’s effectiveness hasn’t been conclusively decided—though SBA says the Act isn’t yet effective, others (including us, in various posts on this blog) have disagreed with this analysis. A recent GAO decision decided a protest based on the Runway Extension Act.

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