The SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protégé program offers a tremendous opportunity for participants to pursue set-aside contracts as joint venture partners. But misunderstandings and misconceptions about how SBA mentor-protégé joint ventures work are pervasive.
One very common misconception is that the SBA must pre-approve a mentor-protégé joint venture. In most cases, that’s not so. In a recent bid protest decision, even the GAO appeared a little confused, repeatedly mentioning SBA approval of a joint venture even though no such approval was required for the contract in question.
Stating that populated joint ventures have now been eliminated, the SBA has revised its 8(a) joint venture regulations to reflect that change.
In a technical correction published today in the Federal Register, the SBA flatly states that an earlier major rulemaking eliminated populated joint venture, and tweaks the profit-sharing piece of its 8(a) joint venture regulation to remove an outdated reference to populated joint ventures. But even following this technical correction, there are three important points of potential confusion that remain (at least in my mind) regarding the SBA’s new joint venture regulations.
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.
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.
The SBA’s Utah District Office has rescinded the questionable new restrictions on 8(a) mentor-protege agreements and joint ventures that the District Office imposed last month.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.
An 8(a) joint venture was unable to show that its mentor-protege agreement had been renewed by the SBA for a particular year–and the missing reauthorization caused the joint venture to be ineligible for a small business set-aside contract.
In a recent decision, the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals held that an 8(a) joint venture could not avail itself of the mentor-protege exemption from affiliation when there was no evidence to show that the SBA had renewed the mentor-protege relationship for the year in which the joint venture’s proposal was submitted.
An 8(a) mentor-protege joint venture didn’t qualify for an SDVOSB set-aside because the mentor firm was not a small business.
In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that a SDVOSB-specific regulation requires all members of an SDVOSB joint venture to be small–notwithstanding language in the SBA’s size regulations and 8(a) Program regulations specifying that an SBA-approved mentor-protege joint venture may bid, as a small business, on any government contractor or subcontract, provided that the protege is small.