Counseling clients and prospective clients on a potential
bid protest, we often ask: Why would you
like to file this protest? Of course, the answer inevitably involves the discussion
of a flaw (or several) in the evaluation process that, had they not been
committed, would have resulted in a different award decision.
In its latest report, the Section 809 Panel offers another consideration: Will this protest ensure confidence in the acquisition system?
On December 17, 2018, the Small Business Runway Extension Act became law. As we’ve previously written, this Act had a single purpose: to extend the measurement period of the SBA’s calculation of average annual receipts, from three years to five.
We opined that the Act became effective with the stroke of the President’s pen. Just a few days ago, however, the SBA disagreed—according to the SBA, the 5-year calculation period will not become effective until its regulations are revised.
You probably know this already—from what we can tell word is spreading like wildfire—but Monday (Dec. 17, 2018) the president signed the “Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018” into law.
This changes the period of time the U.S. Small Business Administration uses to measure a business’s size in revenue-based size standards from three years to five years. The law doesn’t say that there will be a period of implementation, so it’s reasonably safe to assume the effect is immediate.
With the stroke of a pen, Congress may have just paved the way for some soon-to-be large businesses to remain small for longer.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed a bill that would amend the Small Business Act to change the period of measurement used to determine the size of a business from three years to five. The bill awaits the president’s signature to become law.
For small government contractors, the disconnect between the SBA’s updated limitations on subcontracting rule and the FAR’s outdated rules has been very confusing. For more than two years, the FAR and SBA regulation have used different formulas to determine compliance, and the SBA rule–but not the FAR–allows the use of “similarly situated entities” on small business set-asides and 8(a) contracts.
This has created major headaches for small businesses, who have had no definitive answer to what should be a simple question: “which rule do I follow?” Now, finally, there is some important progress to report in clearing up this discrepancy: yesterday, the FAR Council issued a proposed rule to update the FAR’s limitations on subcontracting provisions and conform them to the SBA’s rule.
Over the last few years, SmallGovCon has covered the Congressionally-mandated march away from use of lowest-price technically-acceptable procurements at the Department of Defense. But although Congress has restricted when DOD might use LPTA criteria, the Department has not followed this mandate.
A recent GAO report highlights DOD’s struggle. As of September 2018, DOD has not yet revised its regulations to reflect certain statutory restrictions against LPTA awards and, as a result, DOD contracting officers believe they are not yet required to follow these new requirements.
Candidly, I’m not so sure. But in any event, GAO’s report issued a couple of recommendations to help DOD fully implement the restrictions against LPTA procurements.
Let’s take a look.
If, like us, you spend your days reading through the FAR, you might suppose that there are opportunities to streamline the regulations. Congress agreed, at least for DOD acquisitions, and as part of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, created the Section 809 panel, an independent advisory panel on streamlining acquisition regulations. The panel is working to improve many aspects of acquisitions law, including, as we’ve written about, the definition of subcontract.
A recent, small (but helpful) recommendation was the elimination of a FAR clause involving the $1 coin.