Kingdomware Doesn’t Affect SBA Size Protest Timeliness, Says SBA OHA

The Supreme Court’s now-famous Kingdomware decision doesn’t affect the timeliness of SBA size protests of GSA Schedule orders.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals rejected the notion–based in part on Kingdomware–that an GSA Schedule order is a “contract” for purposes of the SBA’s size protest timeliness rules.  Instead, OHA held, the SBA’s existing rules clearly distinguish between contracts and orders, and often effectively do not permit size protests of individual orders.

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SBA Insists That Small Business Rule Of Two Applies To Some FSS Orders

Earlier this year, we wrote about an interesting issue brewing in federal contracting: whether the logic behind the Supreme Court’s June 2016 decision in Kingdomware Technologies means that the Small Business Act’s rule of two is mandatory for acquisitions under Federal Supply Schedules. In other words, does the Small Business Act require agencies to set aside orders under the FSS when two or more small business are likely to submit competitive offers?

The SBA believes that the rule of two (see FAR 19.502-2) is mandatory for such orders. GAO has disagreed, saying instead that the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the exclusion of FSS contracts from the application of FAR Part 19 (see FAR 8.405-5(a)(1)(i)) make the small business rule of two discretionary for these orders.

This conflict—GAO believing the Small Business Act’s rule of two is discretionary for orders placed under multiple-award contracts; SBA believing it is mandatory—has existed for several years. But now the SBA is using the Supreme Court’s recent decision to bolster its case: according to a recent SBA internal memorandum, Kingdomware requires the small business rule of two to be given mandatory effect, at least with respect to orders valued between $3,500 and $150,000.

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Does Kingdomware Apply To Non-VA FSS Orders?

Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Kingdomware Technologies v. United States. As we’ve noted, this case was a monumental win for veteran-owned small businesses—it requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to set-aside solicitations for SDVOSBs or VOSBs where two or more such offerors will submit a proposal at a fair and reasonable price, even if that solicitation is issued under the Federal Supply Schedule.

A recent GAO decision suggests, however, that Kingdomware’s impact could be felt beyond the world of VA procurements. Indeed, the Supreme Court’s rationale in Kingdomware might compel every agency to set aside any FSS order (or any other order, for that matter) valued between $3,000 and $150,000.

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Thank you, El Paso!

I recently had the pleasure to discuss important government contracting legal updates and their effects on small businesses, at the 11th Annual Veterans Business Conference at Fort Bliss (in El Paso). The Contract Opportunities Center did a fantastic job organizing the conference, which brought together small businesses and government agencies for a wide-ranging discussion on government contracting. My presentation discussed many of the topics we’ve been following at SmallGovCon, including the SBA’s new small business mentor-protégé program, changes to the limitation on subcontracting, and, of course, the Supreme Court’s Kingdomware decision.

I also enjoyed meeting many of the small business owners and government representatives who attended the event. If you attended the conference, it would be great to hear from you.

Thanks to the COC for a great event—I hope to see you again next year!

VA Issues Post-Kingdomware Acquisition Guidance

The VA has released an Acquisition Policy Flash providing guidance to VA Contracting Officers on implementing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States.

The Policy Flash suggests that the VA is, in fact, moving quickly to implement the Kingdomware decision–and if that’s the case, it is good news for SDVOSBs and VOSBs.

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VA Will “Immediately Comply” With Kingdomware Decision

The VA will “immediately comply with the Court’s decision” in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, according to a top VA official.

In written testimony offered in advance of a Senate committee hearing tomorrow, the Executive Director of the VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization tells Congress that the VA will work to implement the Kingdomware decision, including by improving its market research processes.

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SmallGovCon Week In Review: Kingdomware Edition

Yesterday was a huge victory for SDVOSBs and VOSBs, as the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the VA’s “rule of two” is mandatory, and applies to all VA procurements – including GSA Schedule orders.

The Kingdomware decision has drawn news coverage and discussion from across the country.  This special Kingdomware edition of the SmallGovCon Week In Review collects some of the many articles on this important precedent. Enjoy!

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