HUBZone Fraud: Government Alleges “Virtual Office” Scheme

A HUBZone contractor has been accused of HUBZone program fraud for allegedly falsely claiming to be located in a HUBZone, when in fact the office in question was a “virtual office” where no employees worked.

According to a Department of Justice press release, the contractor not only misrepresented its principal office location, but submitted a fabricated lease to the SBA as part of its HUBZone application.

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Thank You, HUBZones!

I am back in Lawrence after a trip to the Washington area, where I spoke at the National HUBZone Conference.  My conference presentation focused on the special rules for joint venturing and teaming on HUBZone set-aside contracts.

Thank you to Mark Crowley and the HUBZone Council for inviting me to be a part of this year’s National HUBZone Conference.  Thank you also to the clients, old friends, and new connections who made the conference especially worthwhile.  And thank you, too, to all those who attended my seminar and asked so many great questions.

After speaking at four government contracts conferences since August, I am beginning to feel a bit like a road warrior.  My next conference travels will take me to Wichita, Philadelphia, and New Mexico.  If we haven’t connected at an event yet this year, I hope to see you there.

GAO: Subcontracting Uncertainty Means No HUBZone Price Preference Required

An agency properly refused to apply the HUBZone price preference when the agency determined HUBZone company’s proposal was unclear as to whether the company would comply with the subcontracting limits set forth in the FAR’s HUBZone price preference clause.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the Defense Logistics Agency reasonably refused to apply the HUBZone price preference in a procurement for supplies because the HUBZone company’s proposal suggested that HUBZone companies might perform less than 50% of the manufacturing costs.

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HUBZone Certifications Averaging 116 Days–And Other Tidbits From The SBA OIG HUBZone Report

HUBZone certifications are averaging 116 days from the date of application to the date of certification, according to a fascinating SBA Office of Inspector General Report on the HUBZone certification process.  The 116-day time frame is considerably longer than the SBA’s goal of 90 days.  However, in a majority of cases, the SBA does complete the certification process within 90 days of receiving all of the applicant’s supporting documentation.

In addition to an overview of the time frames associated with a HUBZone certification (a question I am often asked), the SBA OIG report concludes that the SBA’s HUBZone application procedures need updating–and that three potentially ineligible firms were certified in 2012.

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SBA: SDVOSB, HUBZone, WOSB Mentor-Protege Programs May Arrive In 2014

The SBA will “make it a priority” to adopt regulations establishing mentor-protege programs for SDVOSBs, HUBZones, and WOSBs in the next 12 months, according to the SBA’s most recent semiannual regulatory agenda.

The regulatory agenda states that the three new mentor-protege programs are expected to be “similar” to the 8(a) mentor-protege program, which suggests that the special joint venturing benefits currently available only to 8(a)s may become available to SDVOSBs, HUBZones and WOSBs, as well.

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DOJ Files Complaint In HUBZone Fraud Cause

The Department of Justice has filed a complaint accusing an Ohio construction contractor and its owner of fraudulently obtaining HUBZone certification and HUBZone set-aside contracts.

According to a DOJ press release, the government is alleging that William Richardson, the owner of TAB Construction Co. Inc., made false statements regarding TAB’s principal office to obtain HUBZone certification, then used that certification to win millions of dollars in HUBZone set-aside contracts.

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HUBZone Certification Not Required At Solicitation Issuance, Says GAO

A Treasury Department solicitation did not require contractors to be certified HUBZone participants at the time the solicitation was issued, despite language in the solicitation arguably requiring just that in order to receive a high rating for socioeconomic status.

In a recent GAO bid protest decision, the GAO held that the agency properly interpreted the solicitation to require HUBZone certification at the time proposals were due, not the time the solicitation was issued.  The GAO’s ruling comports with the HUBZone program regulations, which do not require contractors to be certified at the time a solicitation is issued in order to be considered HUBZone participants for purposes of that solicitation.

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