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.
In order for an employee to count as a HUBZone resident for purposes of a specific HUBZone contract, the employee must reside in an officially designated HUBZone on the contract award date.
A recent decision of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims is a cautionary tale for HUBZone companies, which are responsible for ensuring that the 35% employee residency requirement is met on the award date.
The SBA will not aggregate a HUBZone applicant’s employees with the employees of the applicant’s affiliates for purposes of determining compliance with the “35% rule,” but only if the SBA determines that there is a “clear line of fracture” between the HUBZone applicant and its affiliates.
A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims highlights an important SBA policy, which isn’t codified in the SBA’s regulations but can have a tremendous impact on HUBZone Program eligibility.
A small business and its owner have agreed to pay $250,000 to resolve HUBZone fraud allegations, including a claim that the company’s HUBZone office was a “virtual” location where no employees actually worked.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Air Ideal, Inc. and its majority owner have also agreed to pay the government five percent of the company’s gross revenues over the next five years.
HUBZone certifications are averaging 116 days from the date of application to the date of certification, according to a fascinating SBA Office of Inspector General Report on the HUBZone certification process. The 116-day time frame is considerably longer than the SBA’s goal of 90 days. However, in a majority of cases, the SBA does complete the certification process within 90 days of receiving all of the applicant’s supporting documentation.
In addition to an overview of the time frames associated with a HUBZone certification (a question I am often asked), the SBA OIG report concludes that the SBA’s HUBZone application procedures need updating–and that three potentially ineligible firms were certified in 2012.
The Department of Justice has filed a complaint accusing an Ohio construction contractor and its owner of fraudulently obtaining HUBZone certification and HUBZone set-aside contracts.
According to a DOJ press release, the government is alleging that William Richardson, the owner of TAB Construction Co. Inc., made false statements regarding TAB’s principal office to obtain HUBZone certification, then used that certification to win millions of dollars in HUBZone set-aside contracts.
A Treasury Department solicitation did not require contractors to be certified HUBZone participants at the time the solicitation was issued, despite language in the solicitation arguably requiring just that in order to receive a high rating for socioeconomic status.
In a recent GAO bid protest decision, the GAO held that the agency properly interpreted the solicitation to require HUBZone certification at the time proposals were due, not the time the solicitation was issued. The GAO’s ruling comports with the HUBZone program regulations, which do not require contractors to be certified at the time a solicitation is issued in order to be considered HUBZone participants for purposes of that solicitation.