Joint Venture Affiliation Exception Isn’t Unlimited, OHA Says

To encourage joint venturing, the SBA’s size regulations provide a limited exception from affiliation for certain joint venturers: a joint venture qualifies for award of a set-aside contract so long as each venturer, individually, is below the size standard associated with the contract (or one venturer is below the size standard and the other is an SBA-approved mentor, and they have a compliant joint venture agreement). In other words, the SBA ordinarily won’t “affiliate” the joint venturers—that is, add their sizes together—if the joint venture meets the affiliation exception.

Because of this special treatment, it can be easy for the venturers to assume that they are completely exempt from any kind of affiliation. But as the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals recently confirmed, however, the exception isn’t nearly so broad.

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SBA Affiliation Rules: “Inter-Affiliate Transactions” Exception Is Narrow

Under the SBA’s affiliation rules, the so-called “inter-affiliate transactions” exception applies only where the companies in question would be eligible to file a consolidated tax return.

In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that the inter-affiliate transactions exception does not apply when affiliated companies are ineligible to file a consolidated tax return–a result that seems to authorize “double counting” of affiliated companies’ revenues in the context of SBA size determinations.

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VA CVE Verification Does Not Provide Affiliation Shield, Says SBA OHA

Even if the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation has found that a service-disabled veteran “unconditionally” controls a SDVOSB, the SBA may nonetheless determine that other individuals or entities also control the company within the meaning of the SBA’s affiliation rules.

As demonstrated by a recent decision of the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, VA CVE verification does not shield a SDVOSB from an adverse SBA affiliation determination, even if that determination is based on a finding that non-veterans control the company.

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SBA Affiliation Rules: Directors’ Control “Illusory,” Says SBA OHA

A director does not “control” a company under the SBA affiliation rules when that director can be removed at any time by the majority shareholder, according to a recent size appeal decision of the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals.

In Size Appeal of Environmental Quality Management, Inc., SBA No. SIZ-5429 (2012), SBA OHA arrived at the commonsense conclusion that when a majority shareholder has unfettered discretion to fire a company’s directors, the majority shareholder–not the directors–control the company for purposes of the SBA affiliation rules.

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SBA Size Appeals: New Evidence Often Not Allowed

The SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals will reject a contractor’s attempt to submit new evidence in a SBA size appeal unless the contractor shows “good cause” to admit the new evidence.

And, as demonstrated by a recent SBA OHA size appeal decision, when the evidence was publicly available at the time the size protest was filed, but was not submitted with the size protest, it will be very difficult to convince SBA OHA to review the new evidence.

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SBA OHA Confirms Broad Affiliation Exception for Tribal Companies

The SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals has held that the SBA Area Office did not err by refusing to find affiliation between a tribally-owned company and its sister companies.

SBA OHA’s recent decision in Size Appeal of Bosco Contractors, Inc., SBA No. SIZ-5412 (2012), follows on the heels of Size Appeal of Roundhouse PBN, LLC, SBA No. SIZ-5383 (2012), in which SBA OHA found that the SBA had erred by adopting a too-narrow view of the tribal exception from affiliation.

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SBA OHA: Tribal Companies Entitled to Broad Affiliation Exceptions

Indian tribes, their holding companies, and companies owned by those holding companies are entitled to broad exceptions from the ordinary SBA affiliation rules, according to a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals size appeal decision.

SBA OHA’s decision in Size Appeal of Roundhouse PBN, LLC, SBA No. SIZ-5383 (2012), holds that the SBA cannot use non-applicable affiliation rules to circumvent the regulatory exception from affiliation between tribal companies.  In its ruling, SBA OHA also sidestepped an interesting tribal size question: did Congress truly intend for some tribal companies to be “small” for 8(a) program purposes, but “other than small” for all other government contracts?

As you can probably tell, the Roundhouse PBN case is not your run-of-the-mill SBA OHA size appeal decision, meaning a slightly longer-than-normal blog post is in order.  Let’s dive right in.

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