DoD Mentor-Protege Program: Major Changes Finalized

The DoD has issued a final rule making major changes in the DoD “Pilot” Mentor-Protege Program.  The rule took effect on March 23, 2018.

Among the major changes, DoD has both expanded and contracted the universe of potential proteges–and has included a mandatory certification that seems to completely misunderstand the SBA’s joint venture rules and processes.

Here is my take on the good, the bad, and the ugly from the final rule.

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NAICS Code Appeals: Discussions With Agency Don’t Extend Deadline

NAICS code appeals can be powerful, and while they’re infrequent, they often succeed.  But NAICS code appeals are subject to a strict, 10-day deadline–and that deadline isn’t extended by deliberations with the Contracting Officer.

In a recent NAICS code appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals reiterated that the 10-day deadline isn’t affected by discussions with the procuring agency.

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GAO Reports on How Contracting Officers Select NAICS Codes

A newly released Government Accountability Office report provides a rare peek behind the curtain of how contracting officers assign North American Industry Classification System codes.

Contracting officers are required by 13 C.F.R. § 121.402(b) to designate the NAICS code that “best describes” the work to be performed. It sounds simple enough, but the report reveals that it can be tricky.

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NAICS Code Appeals: Infrequent, but Often Successful

Because the NAICS code governs the size standard used to determine whether a company qualifies as a small business, the choice of a NAICS code can dramatically affect the competitive landscape for a set-aside acquisition.

The only legal procedure for challenging the NAICS code assigned by the contracting officer is to appeal the assignment to the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals. A NAICS code appeal can be an extraordinarily powerful tool for a business to challenge whether a contracting officer assigned the correct NAICS code in setting aside a procurement.

So how often are NAICS code appeals filed, and how often do these NAICS code appeals succeed? A recent GAO report has some answers.

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“Similarly Situated Entities” Exempt From Ostensible Subcontractor Affiliation, SBA OHA Confirms

A “similarly situated entity” cannot be an ostensible subcontractor under the SBA’s affiliation rules.

In a recent size appeal decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals confirmed that changes made to the SBA’s size regulations in 2016 exempt similarly situated entities from ostensible subcontractor affiliation.

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NAICS Codes & Task Orders: Underlying Contract Controls

When an agency competes a task order under a multiple-award contract, the agency must assign the task solicitation a NAICS code set forth in the underlying MAC.

As demonstrated in a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision, when the MAC is assigned a single NAICS code, all task orders competed under that MAC will also be assigned that NAICS code–even if a prospective offeror believes that a different NAICS code will best describe the principal purpose of the task order acquisition.

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No NAICS Code Appeals Of Presolicitations, SBA OHA Confirms

A NAICS code appeal can be a powerful vehicle for influencing the competitive landscape of an acquisition.  A successful NAICS code appeal can dramatically alter a solicitation’s size standard, causing major changes in the number (and sizes) of potential competitors.

But a NAICS code appeal cannot be filed until the solicitation is issued.  As the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals recently confirmed, a NAICS code appeal cannot be filed with respect to a presolicitation.

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