DOE Expands Pool of Eligible Protégés under DOE Mentor-Protege Program

The Department of Energy has joined the ranks of government agencies aligning part of its respective small business regulations with the SBA.

The DOE has issued a class deviation expanding the pool of companies eligible to be proteges under the DOE mentor-protege program. This deviation comes almost 20 years after DOE first published guidelines for its formal DOE mentor-protégé program and almost three years after SBA formally established a government-wide mentor-protégé program.

DOE issued a Class Deviation on the Department of Energy Acquisition Regulation (DEAR) Mentor Protégé Participation on February 21, 2019. The primary purpose of the deviation is to allow all small business concerns to be potentially eligible proteges.

Prior to this deviation, only the following types of small businesses could be proteges: those certified in SBA’s 8(a) program; other small disadvantaged businesses; women-owned small businesses; Historically Black College and Universities and other minority institutions of higher learning; service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses; veteran-owned small businesses; and HUBZone small businesses. The deviation’s expansion to all small businesses is a big change.

While the deviation better aligns the DOE’s mentor-protégé program with the SBA’s, DOE will still operate its own mentor-protégé program, subject to approval by the SBA.

On July 25, 2016, the SBA published a rule establishing a government-wide mentor-protégé program for all small business concerns. One purpose of this rule was to create consistency among most government mentor-protégé programs by more closely aligning them with the SBA’s 8(a) mentor-protégé program. Possibly in an effort to encourage a consolidation of mentor-protégé programs, the rule mandates that most government agencies, DOE included, conducting their own mentor-protégé program must first receive approval from the SBA.

The SBA initially approved DOE’s mentor-protégé program in February 2018, and again when it was amended in July 2018. The effect of this deviation is immediate, although it has yet to be formally included in the DEAR.

Do not lose sight of the fact that this deviation only expands the pool of small businesses eligible to be a protégé under DOE’s mentor-protégé program. DOE’s mentor-protege regulations still contain many rules which vary from the SBA’s mentor-protege regulations. Let us know if you need any help navigating these regulations as you embark on your own mentor-protégé agreement.