SBA OHA Sets Low Bar For Common Investments Affiliation

As few as two common outside investments can result in a presumption of identity of interest, and therefore likely affiliation, according to a recent decision by the Small Business Administration Office of Hearings and Appeals.

OHA’s decision in W. Harris, Government Services Contractor, Inc., SBA No. SIZ-5717 (Mar. 7, 2016), lends some clarity to the SBA’s identity of interest affiliation rule, which provides that businesses or firms are affiliated when they have identical or substantially identical business interests. Although it brings the rule more into focus, the decision in W. Harris could prove troublesome to some small business owners, who may have assumed that a handful of common outside investments would not result in affiliation.

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Family Members’ Joint Involvement In Third Company Created Affiliation, Says SBA OHA

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.

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Ostensible Subcontractor Affiliation: Beware These “Four Key Factors,” Says SBA OHA

Ostensible subcontractor affiliation can arise for many reasons–but a small business may be in grave danger of affiliation with its subcontractor when four specific factors are present.

In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that a small prime contractor was unusually reliant on its large subcontractor where “four key factors” indicated that the small prime contractor was bringing little to the table but its small business status.

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SBA Size Protests: Subcontracting Limits Off The Table

The SBA does not evaluate compliance with the limitations on subcontracting as part of the SBA size protest process.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals confirmed that subcontracting limits are the domain of the procuring agency, which is to consider compliance (or lack thereof) as part of its responsibility determination.

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Ostensible Subcontractor Rule: Management Alone Wasn’t Enough

The prime contractor’s management of a contract wasn’t enough to avoid ostensible subcontractor affiliation where the subcontractor would provide the labor, equipment, and facilities for performing the work.

In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals confirmed that, where the subcontractor will provide the goods or services that the agency “actually seeks to acquire,” the subcontractor may be deemed an ostensible subcontractor under the SBA’s affiliation rules.

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Expired 8(a) Mentor-Protégé Agreement Sinks JV’s Eligibility

An 8(a) mentor-protégé agreement, which expired one year after its approval by the SBA, did not protect the 8(a) protégé and its mentor from affiliation–and meant that their 8(a) mentor-protégé joint venture was an ineligible large business.

A recent size appeal decision of the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals is a cautionary tale for 8(a) protégé and their mentors, and highlights the importance of securing timely SBA reauthorization of 8(a) mentor-protégé agreements.

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SBA Affiliation Rules: 4.16% Minority Owner “Controlled” Company

An owner of a mere 4.16% minority interest nonetheless “controlled” a company within the meaning of the SBA’s affiliation rules because the company’s ownership was split among approximately 20 companies, each with an equal ownership interest.

In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals confirmed that, where a company has no 50% or greater owner, a minority owner may be presumed to control the company–even where that ownership is as little as 4.16%.

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