Novation Disaster: SBIR Phase III Award Stripped by GAO

Contractors interested in acquiring participants in the SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program beware: successfully novating SBIR contracts has been made significantly harder by a recent GAO decision. Worse still, SBIR novation mistakes can jeopardize future awards under the SBIR contract vehicles. Tread lightly.

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GAO Sustains Challenge Based on Misrepresentation of Incumbent Staff Availability

It’s generally a pretty high bar to argue the ol’ “bait and switch” concerning what personnel will actually perform a contract. But specifically naming a crucial employee of the incumbent in your proposal—without ever talking to that employee about working on the new contract—can meet the bar in a GAO protest.

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GAO: Proposal Evaluations Can’t Take Place in La La Land

Wouldn’t it be swell to simply erase those less-than-flattering moments from your past merely by deleting them? For instance, what if your biographer simply omitted any mention of you being excited for and seeing the apparently horrible new Cats movie? Does erasing a historical fact–such as an unfavorable detail from a proposal–mean that it never happened?

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Agency Should Have Investigated Proposal Contradictions, Says GAO

Preparing a proposal for a federal procurement is an involved process. On top of the extensive drafting and estimating work, proposals often require supporting documentation like licenses or certifications. But what happens when a proposal and its supporting documentation contradict one another? As one contractor learned the hard way, this contradiction can have disastrous consequences.

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GAO: Trade Agreements Act Inapplicable to Small Business Set-Asides

It’s no secret that federal government contracting has the reputation of being a seemingly endless morass of regulations. In fact, the confusion frequently associated with federal contracting was on full display in a recent GAO protest that implicated the SBA’s nonmanufacturer rule, the Buy American Act, and the Trade Agreements Act. In a procurement that invited bids from both large and small businesses, a large business contractor argued that the application of certain small business contracting regulations would unfairly advantage the small business participants. GAO disagreed, and dismissed the protest because any advantage was the result of the regulations operating as intended. Sometimes it pays to be a small business.

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Subcontractor Experience Irrelevant Where Subcontractor Won’t Perform Similar Tasks, Says GAO

Prime and subcontractor teaming is a common way for contractors to leverage the experience of the team’s anticipated subcontractors to make proposals more attractive to federal clients, particularly when past performance is a substantial evaluation consideration. This approach, however, recently ran into a snag when the proposed subcontractor was not going to perform the discrete work areas that its past performance experience supported, which lowered the past performance score of the bid. In the resulting protest, GAO concluded the agency got the evaluation right, and was not required to credit all of the subcontractor’s experience.

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GAO: Protest Failed to Establish Legal Reason to Sustain

When protesting at GAO, it’s important to explain not only what you believe the agency did wrong, but also the legal significance of that departure.

That’s what Trinity Global Consulting learned recently when GAO dismissed its protest.

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