In a troubling case, the VA recently refused to issue a small business set-aside because responses to a Request for Information indicated that prospective small business offerors lacked similar experience with the VA, and did not currently have available the personnel, equipment and facilities necessary to perform the contract.
The GAO, ignoring the recommendation of the SBA, affirmed the VA’s decision to forego a small business set-aside.
Avoiding affiliation under the SBA’s ostensible subcontractor rule can be difficult, especially since the ostensible subcontractor rule itself, 13 C.F.R. § 121.103(h)(4), does not provide many examples of the factors that may cause ostensible subcontractor affiliation.
A recent decision of the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals, Size Appeal of InGenesis, Inc., SBA No. SIZ-5436 (2013), demonstrates that even when a proposed subcontractor will play a major role in the procurement, ostensible subcontractor affiliation may be avoided if the parties carefully structure their relationship.
You would think a company as large as Northrop Grumman would know how to avoid ostensible subcontractor affiliation with a small prime, wouldn’t you?
You’d be wrong. In a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision, a Northrop Grumman entity entered into a teaming arrangement with a small prime, in which all three key employees identified in the proposal were employed by the large subcontractor. The result: ostensible subcontractor affiliation.
How easy would be for you to obtain resumes and signed letters of intent from your competitor’s employees?
If you answered “not very,” you’re not alone. A small business contractor, Maritime Institute Inc., recently protested the terms of a Navy solicitation, complaining that the solicitation unreasonably forced Maritime to obtain resumes and signed commitment letters from prospective employees, including any incumbent personnel Maritime intended to hire. According to the GAO, however, the Navy’s requirement was perfectly reasonable–notwithstanding any competitive advantage to the incumbent.
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