NAICS code appeals can be powerful tools. A change in a solicitation’s NAICS code–and corresponding change in the small business size standard–can significantly broaden or narrow the competitive playing field. And statistically speaking, NAICS code appeals are often successful.
But NAICS code appeals are subject to strict rules. As a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals case confirms, NAICS code appeals cannot be lodged against presolicitations.
NAICS code appeals can be powerful, and while they’re infrequent, they often succeed. But NAICS code appeals are subject to a strict, 10-day deadline–and that deadline isn’t extended by deliberations with the Contracting Officer.
In a recent NAICS code appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals reiterated that the 10-day deadline isn’t affected by discussions with the procuring agency.
A newly released Government Accountability Office report provides a rare peek behind the curtain of how contracting officers assign North American Industry Classification System codes.
Contracting officers are required by 13 C.F.R. § 121.402(b) to designate the NAICS code that “best describes” the work to be performed. It sounds simple enough, but the report reveals that it can be tricky.
Because the NAICS code governs the size standard used to determine whether a company qualifies as a small business, the choice of a NAICS code can dramatically affect the competitive landscape for a set-aside acquisition.
The only legal procedure for challenging the NAICS code assigned by the contracting officer is to appeal the assignment to the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals. A NAICS code appeal can be an extraordinarily powerful tool for a business to challenge whether a contracting officer assigned the correct NAICS code in setting aside a procurement.
So how often are NAICS code appeals filed, and how often do these NAICS code appeals succeed? A recent GAO report has some answers.
When an agency competes a task order under a multiple-award contract, the agency must assign the task solicitation a NAICS code set forth in the underlying MAC.
As demonstrated in a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision, when the MAC is assigned a single NAICS code, all task orders competed under that MAC will also be assigned that NAICS code–even if a prospective offeror believes that a different NAICS code will best describe the principal purpose of the task order acquisition.
A NAICS code appeal can be a powerful vehicle for influencing the competitive landscape of an acquisition. A successful NAICS code appeal can dramatically alter a solicitation’s size standard, causing major changes in the number (and sizes) of potential competitors.
But a NAICS code appeal cannot be filed until the solicitation is issued. As the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals recently confirmed, a NAICS code appeal cannot be filed with respect to a presolicitation.
NAICS code appeals, while little known, can be an extraordinarily powerful tool when it comes to affecting the competitive landscape of government acquisitions.
Case in point: in a recent NAICS code appeal decision issued by the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals, the appellant prevailed–and obtained an order requiring the contracting officer to change the solicitation’s size standard from 500 employees to $15 million.