5 Things You Should Know: SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program (The Basics)

If you’re a small business owner interested in government contracts, you’ve probably heard about the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. The 8(a) Program itself is complex, but its potential benefits are tremendous. In this post, I’ll break down some of the very basics about the 8(a) Program, leaving some of its complexities for upcoming posts.

Let’s get to it: here are five things you should know about the 8(a) Program.

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GovCon Voices: Getting Your Joint Venture Ready In Time For The Next Big Opportunity

Joint ventures can be extremely powerful in helping small businesses capture larger government contracts. Yet, few small businesses know how they work, and even fewer understand the critical timeline and milestones required to have everything in place in time to capture those large opportunities.

In this article, we will discuss why understanding the timeline is so important if you want to leverage your JV for a big win.

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8(a) Protege Not Entitled To Mentor-Protege JV’s Past Performance

A former 8(a) protege was not automatically entitled to take advantage of the past performance it obtained as part of a mentor-protege joint venture, in a case where the former mentor would not be involved in the new contract.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that a procuring agency erred by crediting the protege with the joint venture’s past performance without considering the extent to which that past performance relied on the mentor–and the extent to which the mentor’s absence under the new solicitation might impact the relevance of the past performance as applied to the new work.

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Unapproved Addendum Sinks 8(a) Joint Venture’s Bid

An 8(a) joint venture failed to obtain SBA’s approval of an addendum to its joint venture agreement—and the lack of SBA approval cost the joint venture an 8(a) contract.

In Alutiiq-Banner Joint Venture, B-412952 et al. (July 15, 2016), GAO sustained a protest challenging an 8(a) joint venture’s eligibility for award where that joint venture had not previously sought (or received) SBA’s approval for an addendum to its joint venture agreement.

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Bye-Bye, Populated Joint Ventures: SBA Rule Change Mandates Unpopulated JVs

Populated joint ventures (or at least most populated JVs) will no longer be permitted in the SBA’s small business programs, under a new regulation set to take effect on August 24, 2016.

The SBA’s major new rule, officially issued today in the Federal Register, will be best known for implementing the long-awaited small business mentor-protege program.  But the rule also makes many other important changes to the SBA’s small business programs, including the elimination of populated joint ventures.

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Update: SBA Utah District Office Rescinds Questionable 8(a) JV Policy

The SBA’s Utah District Office has rescinded the questionable new restrictions on 8(a) mentor-protege agreements and joint ventures that the District Office imposed last month.

A brief email to Utah 8(a)s on May 5, which was forwarded to me by an industry connection, states “The Utah District Office hereby rescinds the e-mail dated April 21, 2016 regarding Mentor Protégé and Joint Venture relationships.”

No reason was given for the sudden change, but I think it’s the right call.

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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