SBA OHA: Common Investment Affiliation Analysis Not Tied to Entity Treatment on Tax Returns

Common investment affiliation can arise when SBA believes that two individuals’ common investments in multiple entities may make the individuals in question act with a common purpose. As few as two common investments can form the basis for affiliation.

A recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals opinion examines the argument that the number of common investments should be counted the same way the number of entities is treated for tax purposes. OHA’s answer: Nope.

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OHA Rules that Size Protest Wasn’t Five Years Too Late

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, if you want to initiate a size protest, you generally must do so within 5 business days after the contracting officer notifies you of the prospective awardee’s identity.

But what happens if, after learning that you did not receive the award, the agency does something that suggests its award decision wasn’t final–e.g., reopens discussions with offerors and seeks revised proposals? Would your size protest still be late if didn’t file within the 5-day time frame?

Take a guess. And keep reading to find out the answer!

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Unpopulated Joint Venture Can Be “Manufacturer” For SBA Size Purposes

When a small business sells products to the government under a contract designated with a manufacturing NAICS code, the small business either must be the “manufacturer” of the products, or separately qualify under the nonmanufacturer rule. The nonmanufacturer rule, in turn, requires the prime contractor to have no more than 500 employees, whereas manufacturers may fall under larger size standards–some as big as 1,500 employees.

But what about an unpopulated joint venture that doesn’t itself manufacture any products, relying on the individual venturers to manufacture the solicited goods? Does it also have to comply with the 500-employee size standard under the nonmanufacturer rule? Or can the joint venture be deemed the “manufacturer” of the products in question?

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Failure to Update Joint Venture Agreement Costs Mentor-Protege SDVOSB JV a Contract

Updating your joint venture agreement is essential to maintaining compliance with SBA’s regulations and failing to update could cost you contracts.

In Stacqme, LLC, SBA No. SIZ-5976 (Dec. 10, 2018), the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that a mentor-protege joint venture’s failure to update its JV agreement caused the agreement to be non-compliant with the SBA’s rules, and meant that the joint venture was ineligible for an SDVOSB set-aside contract.

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Size Protest Was Untimely Because CO Did Not Require Size Recertification

Let’s suppose that you, a small business, were previously awarded a long-term contract set aside for small businesses. But over the past few years, business has been good and you’ve outgrown the size standard assigned to the contract. Can you still be awarded a task order under the contract? Yes–if the contracting officer doesn’t require you to recertify your size in connection with the task order request, and no contract-specific terms–like mandatory off-ramps–say otherwise.

This important principle recently played out in DNT Solutions, LLC et al., SBA No. SIZ-5962 (2018).

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SBA OHA: Contracting Officer’s Termination Decision Won’t Change Size Appeal Deadline

Following a size determination, any person adversely affected by that determination may file an appeal with the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals. To be timely, the appeal has to be filed within 15 calendar days from the date the person receives the determination. If not timely-filed, the appeal will be dismissed.

This 15-day deadline is strict. The OHA doesn’t have the power to extend it, even if good reason exists to do so. In fact, the OHA’s recent decision in Sentient Digital, Inc. dba Entrust Government Solutions, SBA No. SIZ-5963 (2018) makes clear that this deadline applies even when an agency changes its decision to terminate a contract following an adverse size determination.

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Yes, Foreign-Owned Entities Can Be Small Businesses Under SBA Government Contracting Rules

Government contractors often assume that a foreign-owned company cannot qualify as a small business under the SBA’s government contracting size rules.

Not so.  As demonstrated by a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals size appeal decision, a foreign-owned entity can qualify as a small business, provided that it has a physical location in the United States and contributes to the U.S. economy.

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