SmallGovCon Week In Review: March 13-17, 2017

March Madness is here!  I hope your brackets are doing well.  So far, mine haven’t been “busted,” but Notre Dame looked mighty shaky in that opening-round win over Princeton.

While I get ready for tomorrow’s games with my Duke Blue Devils and Kansas Jayhawks, I’m keeping an eye on the latest and greatest (or not so great) in government contracting. In this week’s SmallGovCon Week In Review, the GAO releases a major report on the state of government contracting, an IT contractor will pay $45 million to resolve claims of overcharging the government, the SBA proposes to terminate a nonmanufacturer rule class waiver, and more.

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SBA OHA: “Manufacturer” Need Not Create Most Expensive Component

The SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals reaffirmed recently that a business need not manufacture the most expensive component of an item in order to be considered its manufacturer.

Rather, under the SBA’s size rules, a company may be considered a manufacturer if it adds important functionality to the end product, even if the proportion of total dollar value added by the company is relatively small.

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SBA Adopts New Exemption From Nonmanufacturer Rule

The nonmanufacturer rule will not apply to small business set-aside contracts valued between $3,000 and $150,000, according to the SBA.

In its recent major rulemaking, the SBA exempts these small business set-aside contracts from the nonmanufacturer rule, meaning that small businesses will be able to supply the products of large manufacturers for these contracts without violating the limitations on subcontracting.

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Small Business Set-Asides: Two Small Manufacturers Required

When an agency acquires manufactured products or supplies, the agency need not set aside the solicitation for small businesses under the FAR’s “rule of two” unless the agency has a reasonable expectation of receiving offers from small businesses offering the products of two or more small manufacturers.

A recent GAO bid protest decision highlights a little-known provision of the FAR, which provides that the “rule of two” does not apply to acquisitions for manufactured products over $150,000 where two or more small business nonmanufacturers are likely to submit offers, but the small business nonmanufacturers will not offer the products of two or more small business manufacturers.

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Nonmanufacturer Rule Violation Leads To Default Termination

A procuring agency appropriately terminated a small business set-aside contract for default when the SBA determined, after contract award, that the prime contractor was not complying with the nonmanufacturer rule.

A recent decision of the Armed Service Board of Contract Appeals involved a very interesting factual situation, in which the small business in question told the SBA that it planned to perform the contract in compliance with the nonmanufacturer rule, but then failed to do so.  This failure, according to the ASBCA, justified a default termination.

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Nonmanufacturer Rule: Post-Proposal Substitutions Don’t Work

The nonmanufacturer rule requires, among other things, that the prime contractor supply the end items of a small business manufacturer, or obtain a SBA waiver of that requirement.  Compliance with the nonmanufacturer rule is determined as of the date of the final proposal–and a subsequent switch in manufacturers won’t be recognized by the SBA.

In a recent decision, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that the SBA had erred by evaluating a prospective prime contractor’s nonmanufacturer rule compliance because the small business end manufacturer in question had not provided a quotation to the prime until well after the prime’s proposal had been submitted.

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Nonmanufacturer Rule: Large Manufacturers OK’d For Certain Simplified Acquisitions

In a small business set-aside simplified acquisition of $25,000 or less, small business offerors may propose using large business manufacturers while still complying with the requirements of the nonmanufacturer rule.

In a recent decision, the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals held that an apparent ambiguity contained in the nonmanufacturer regulation for certain simplified acquisitions should be resolved in favor of exempting offerors from the requirement that the manufacturer be a small business concern.

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