GAO ordinarily will not hear any argument that is based on a company’s small business status, even if the alleged large company is only a proposed subcontractor.
In a recent decision, GAO declined to hear a protester’s argument that the awardee’s supposedly-small subcontractors were affiliated with other entities, holding that such a determination is reserved solely for the SBA.
A small business cannot file a viable SBA size protest if the small business has been excluded from the competitive range, or if its proposal has otherwise found to be non-responsive or technically unacceptable.
In its recent final rule addressing the limitations on subcontracting, the SBA also clarifies when small businesses can–and cannot–file viable size protests.
A self-certified small business was found affiliated with a company owned by the business owner’s father, even though the son’s company had no meaningful business relationship with the father’s company.
In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals found that the self-certified small business had not rebutted the presumption of affiliation with the father’s company because the father and son were jointly involved in a third business, and thus could not establish that their personal business interests were separate.
When the SBA evaluates a size protest, it need not obtain and consider “outside sources” of information–that is, information that is not provided by the protester or the protested business.
A recent decision of the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals highlights the need for a size protest to include specific, detailed information about why the protested firm is alleged to be “other than small.” If the protester does not include information from outside sources, the SBA is not required to seek out such information on its own.
Assembling components into a commercial item does not make a contractor a “kit assembler” for the purposes of the non-manufacturer rule, according to the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals.
A recent size appeal required OHA to delve in to what is meant by “kit.” In B GSE Group, LLC, SBA No. SIZ-5679 (Sept. 17, 2015), OHA stated that a kit is not a commercial item that has been purchased in parts and assembled, rather, it is a collection of manufactured items packaged together, like a tool kit.
A SBA size protest related to a sealed bid must be filed within five business days of bid opening–and the bid protest rules under FAR Part 33 do not provide for a longer protest window.
In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals confirmed that, when it comes to size protests, the timeliness rules for bid protests (which allow many protests to be filed within 10 days after the basis of protest was known or should have been known) simply do not apply.
Under the SBA’s small business affiliation regulations, an otherwise small business can be deemed affiliated with a larger business when the firms share “substantially identical business or other interests.” Under this rule, affiliation will be typically be found, as a matter of law, when a small business concern derives 70% or more of its revenue from another firm.
Because most new businesses don’t start up with numerous clients or contracts, a mechanical application of the 70% rule could be disastrous for a new small business faced with an SBA size determination. Thus, the “start-up” exception to the SBA’s affiliation rules—which applies to relatively new businesses whose revenues from its alleged affiliate are insufficient to sustain business operations—can be the saving grace for a small business trying to earn business from the government.
So it was in a recent case decided by the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals.