SBA Proposes Changes to 8(a) Contract Procurement Process

Last week, SBA proposed big changes for some of its small business regulations, particularly those in the 8(a) Program. This blog post is Part 2 in our coverage of the proposed amendments (see Part 1 here) and will cover SBA’s potential changes to the procurement process for 8(a) contracts.

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House Passes Bill to Increase Potential Size of Sole Source Awards

Amidst the news cycle focusing on the government shutdown, there is some other action in the House of Representatives that recently caught our eye.

The House recently passed a bill called the “Expanding Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses Act of 2019.” If the bill becomes law, we will see a dramatic expansion in the size of sole source contracts for SDVOSBs, WOSBs, and HUBZones.

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No Competitor Size Protests of 8(a) Sole Source Awards, Says SBA OHA

The SBA’s regulations do not allow an 8(a) company to file a size protest challenging the award of an 8(a) sole source contract to a competitor.

In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals confirmed that size protests relating to 8(a) sole source awards can be filed by contracting officers or the SBA itself–but not by competitors.

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GAO: 8(a) Sole-Source Set-Aside Proper Notwithstanding Prior Intent

As a general rule, the SBA is prohibited from accepting a solicitation into the 8(a) Business Development Program if the procuring agency previously expressed publicly a clear intent to award the contract as a small business set-aside.

On its face, this restriction seems clear. In practice, it can be anything but—the inquiry usually focuses on whether the agency’s prior intent was definitive enough to count.

In SKC, LLC, B-415151 (Nov. 20, 2017), GAO provided important clarity about this restriction.

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SBA Considering 8(a), HUBZone Changes

The SBA is considering making changes to improve its socioeconomic programs–particularly the 8(a) and HUBZone Programs.

In a talk yesterday at the 2017 Navy Gold Coast Procurement Conference, Robb Wong, the SBA’s recently-appointed Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, discussed some of the big changes the SBA is considering.  And to my ears, at least, a lot of what Mr. Wong said makes good sense.

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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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