8(a) Program: Is The SBA “Searching For Reasons To Deny” Women?

The SBA’s course of conduct in reviewing the 8(a) applications of companies owned by women “gives the distinct impression that the SBA is simply searching for reasons to deny every claim” of social disadvantage made by women applicants.

These strong words come from a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision, in which OHA again overturned the SBA’s denial of a woman-owned business’s 8(a) application.

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8(a) Joint Ventures: SBA Approval Not Required At Proposal Submission

A joint venture may be awarded an 8(a) set-aside contract so long as the SBA approves the joint venture before award.

In a recent GAO bid protest decision, a procuring agency rejected a joint venture’s proposal for an 8(a) set-aside contract because the joint venture had not been approved by the SBA as of the date of proposal submission.  The GAO–relying in part on input from the SBA–held that the rejection was improper.

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Women 8(a) Applicants Don’t Need “Smoking Gun” Evidence Of Bias, Says SBA OHA

A woman does not need to provide the SBA with “smoking gun” evidence of bias in order to be considered socially disadvantaged for purposes of her company’s application to the 8(a) program.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals sharply criticized the SBA’s evaluation of a woman-owned small business’s 8(a) application, holding that the SBA had improperly discounted evidence of bias, needlessly demanded that the woman provide irrelevant details, and made several other errors.

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8(a) Fraud: Contractor Fraudulently Obtained $52 Million, Says DOJ

A Maryland man has pleaded guilty in an 8(a) fraud case involving a company that received more than $52 million in 8(a) contracts to which it was not entitled.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Vernon Smith pleaded guilty to charges that he (not the company’ s disadvantaged majority owner) exercised complete control over the company’s day-to-day management and long term decision making.

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8(a) Program Mentor To Pay $928,000 False Claims Act Settlement

An 8(a) Program mentor has agreed to pay a False Claims Act settlement of $928,000.  The settlement stems from the government’s claims that the mentor abused the 8(a) mentor-protege program.

According to a Department of Justice press release, the mentor firm performed eight 8(a) prime contracts on behalf of its protege–without an SBA-approved joint venture.  The government also contended that the mentor’s extensive role resulted in the protege firm failing to meet the applicable limitation on subcontracting.

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8(a) Task Orders: No Automatic Size Recertifications

Submitting a proposal for a task order under an 8(a) Government Wide Acquisition Contract does not result in automatic recertification of the offeror’s small business size status.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that unless the Contracting Officer expressly requires recertification, an offeror’s size for an 8(a) set-aside task order is governed by that offeror’s size status for the underlying GWAC.

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SBA OHA: 8(a) Mentor-Protege JV Affiliation Exception Applies To Non-8(a) Contracts

The SBA 8(a) mentor-protege joint venture exception from affiliation applies to non-8(a) contracts, so long as the joint venture meets the 8(a) regulatory requirements.

In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that the SBA Area Office erred by deeming a mentor and its protege affiliated for purposes of a non-8(a) contract, without considering whether the joint venture qualified for the mentor-protege exception to the ordinary SBA affiliation rules.

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