8(a)’s Unapproved Mentor-Protege Arrangement Leads To Affiliation

An 8(a) small business was found to be affiliated with its large subcontractor under the ostensible subcontractor rule based in part on the fact that the large subcontractor was providing mentoring services to the small business–even though the SBA had rejected a proposed mentor-protege agreement between the companies.

The recent decision of the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals in Size Appeal of Brown & Pipkins LLC, SBA No. SIZ-5621 (2014) is a warning to 8(a) firms about the potential dangers of accepting mentoring services outside the confines of a SBA-approved mentor-protege agreement.

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8(a) Program: “Honest Mistake” Not Grounds For Termination

An honest mistake made in a company’s 8(a) Program application may not support termination of the company from the 8(a) Program.

In a recent decision, the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals held that the SBA could not validly terminate an 8(a) participant for submitting false information in the 8(a) application because the SBA had not considered whether the 8(a) participant honestly, and reasonably, believed that she was not required to report the information.

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Mentor-Protege For All: SBA Proposes “Universal” Mentor-Protege Program

The SBA has proposed to establish a government-wide mentor-protege program available to all small businesses.

In a proposed rule released yesterday, the SBA proposed to establish a single, “universal” mentor-protege program, open to all small businesses, not just those with certain socioeconomic designations.  And critically, the SBA’s proposed mentor-protege program would allow SBA-approved mentor-protege joint ventures to qualify as “small” for any federal government prime contract or subcontract–a benefit currently available only to 8(a) companies.

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SBA “Adverse Impact” Analysis Not Required For Large Business

The SBA was not required to conduct an “adverse impact” analysis before placing a procurement under the 8(a) program because the company requesting the adverse impact analysis was not a small business under the incumbent contract.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the incumbent contractor–which, according to the SBA, had violated the ostensible subcontractor affiliation rule–was not entitled to insist on an adverse impact analysis.

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Limitations on Subcontracting: SBA Proposes Sweeping Changes

The limitations on subcontracting would undergo sweeping changes under a recent SBA proposal.

On December 29, the SBA issued a proposed rule to enact the changes implemented by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013–including a thorough re-write of the way that compliance with the subcontracting limits is calculated and enforced.

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SBA 8(a) JVs: No OHA Appeals Of Disapprovals

The SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals does not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal challenging the SBA’s refusal to approve a joint venture for an 8(a) set-aside contract.

In a recent decision, OHA dismissed an appeal filed by an 8(a) mentor-protege joint venture, in which the joint venture attempted to challenge the SBA’s decision not to approve the joint venture to pursue an 8(a) set-aside.

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8(a) Program Improvements Needed, Says SBA OIG

8(a) Program improvements are needed to allow more disadvantaged firms to receive 8(a) contracts, according to a recent report issued by the SBA Office of Inspector General.

In its report, the SBA OIG credits the SBA with positive steps taken to improve the 8(a) Program, but says that more must be done to ensure that 8(a) business development assistance reaches more 8(a) Program participants.

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