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.
Under the SBA’s current regulation, a size protest may be filed by “[a]ny offeror whom the contracting officer has not eliminated for reasons unrelated to size.” Many small businesses and contracting officers have found this regulation confusing, both because it contains a double negative and because it is unclear when an offeror has (or has not) been “eliminated” from a competition.
In its new final rule, the SBA states that its intent “is to provide standing to any offeror that is in line or [under] consideration for award, but not to provide standing for an offeror that has been found to be non-responsive, technically unacceptable, or outside of the competitive range.” The SBA points out that, while such offerors cannot file viable size protests of their own, “SBA and the contracting officer may file a size protest at any time, so any firm, including those that do not have standing, may bring information pertaining to the size of the apparent successful offeror to the attention of SBA and/or the contracting officer for their consideration.”
The new rule provides that a size protest can be filed by “[a]ny offeror that the contracting officer has not eliminated from consideration for any procurement-related reason, such as non-responsiveness, technical unacceptability or outside of the competitive range.” The rule takes effect June 30, 2016.