8(a) Sole Source Decision: “Bad Faith” Bid Protest An Uphill Battle

An agency’s decision to award a contract as an 8(a) sole source is a “business decision” for which the agency has broad discretion–and a potential protester challenging the agency’s use of that discretion will have an uphill battle.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO confirmed that government officials are presumed to act in good faith, and that the presumption extends to the decision to award an 8(a) sole source contract instead of competing the work in question.

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SmallGovCon Week In Review: November 14-18, 2016

The year is flying by.  Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is next week.  While my colleagues and I prepare to overdose on turkey and stuffing (and my personal Thanksgiving favorite–copious amounts of pie), our focus today is on the top stories that made government contracting headlines this week.

In this edition of SmallGovCon Week In Review, all nine bid protests filed against the TRICARE award were denied, the FAR Council proposes a rule to clarify how Contracting Officers are to award 8(a) sole source contracts in excess of $22 million, Set-Aside ALERT offers an in depth look at HUBZone set-asides in 2016, the Obama Administration’s government contracting Executive Orders may be reversed by President-Elect Trump, and much more.

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8(a) Program: SBA Final Rule Makes Important Changes

The 8(a) Program regulations will undergo some significant changes as part of the major final rule recently released by the SBA, and effective August 24, 2016.

Here at SmallGovCon, we’ve already covered big changes to the SDVOSB Program and HUBZone Program brought about by the new SBA rule.  But the 8(a) program is affected by the new rule too, and important changes involving eligibility, the application process, sole source awards, NHOs, and more will kick in later this month.

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Large DoD 8(a) Sole Source Contracts Have Dropped By 86.5%

The number of 8(a) sole source contracts over $20 million awarded by the DoD has been “steadily declining since 2011,” when a new requirement was adopted requiring agencies to prepare written justifications of such awards.

According to a recent GAO report, such awards have dropped more than 86% compared to the period before the justification requirement took effect.  The report states that much of the work that was previously awarded on a sole source basis has now been competed.

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8(a) Program: Follow-On To Competitive Award Can Be Sole Sourced

An 8(a) contract was properly awarded on a sole source basis to a tribally-owned entity, even though the contract was a follow-on to a competitive 8(a) set-aside award.

In a recent decision, the GAO deferred to the SBA’s interpretation of the 8(a) program regulations–which, according to the SBA, allow such sole source awards.

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8(a) Joint Ventures Are Not 8(a) Program Participants, Says SBA OHA

8(a) joint ventures are not 8(a) program participants, according to a recent (and commonsense) decision of the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals.

In its decision, SBA rejected a joint venture’s argument that its 8(a) joint venture agreement was essentially an 8(a) program application, drawing a jurisdictional decision between 8(a) program certification and 8(a) joint venture agreement approval.

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Guest Perspective: Section 811 Stifles Native American Economic Growth

By Kevin J. Allis

While an eleventh hour agreement avoided the “fiscal cliff,” it did not fully resolve potential spending cuts.  The agreement delayed the sequester, but its impacts are still being felt by contractors, particularly by small businesses.  These entities are at the end of the planning process, and delaying a resolution only prolongs uncertainty.

For Native contractors, there is little to be happy about, and much that raises significant concerns.  The consequences of the uncertainty in the federal contracting environment caused by the still looming possibility of sequestration, coupled with the enormously harmful effects of Section 811 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010 (“NDAA”), are painting a potentially very dreary picture for these companies and the communities they serve.

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