VA SDVOSB Set-Asides Not Required For Prosthetics, Says GAO

The VA is not required to prioritize SDVOSB set-asides when it obtains prosthetic appliances and related services, according to the GAO.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that a specific statutory exemption allows the VA to procure prosthetic appliances and related services in whatever manner the VA deems best, without regard to the ordinary requirement that the VA prioritize SDVOSB acquisitions.

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Strange But True: Small Business Protests Small Business Set-Aside

Recently, I brought you the story of a contractor protesting its own award.

Now, in the same “strange but true” category comes a GAO bid protest decision in which a small business argued that the procuring agency should not have set aside the procurement for small businesses.

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Federal Court: Small Business Set-Aside Threshold “Purposefully Low”

The FAR’s threshold for meeting the so-called “Rule of Two” for small business set-asides is “purposefully low,” according to a recent decision of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

In Adams & Associates, Inc. v. The United States, No. 12-731C (2013), the Court rejected a challenge to a small business set-aside, holding in part that a contracting officer need not conduct a thorough responsibility evaluation of prospective small business offerors before issuing a set-aside.

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VA Refuses To Issue Set-Aside Based On Prospective Offerors’ Experience, Resources

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.

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GAO: Ostensible Subcontractor Rule Not Part of Set-Aside Decision

When deciding whether to set aside a solicitation for small businesses, procuring agencies need not consider whether prospective small business offerors can perform the contract without violating the SBA’s ostensible subcontractor rule.

This was the ruling of the GAO in a recent bid protest decision, in which the GAO held that a procuring agency had properly set aside a contract for small businesses without prior consideration of the ostensible subcontractor rule.  The GAO’s decision aligns with the one discussed in yesterday’s post, in which the GAO held that an a procuring agency need not consider the individual capabilities of potential small business offerors to meet all solicitation requirements before setting aside a solicitation.

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GAO: Small Businesses’ Capabilities Not Part Of Set-Aside Decision

A procuring agency is not required to evaluate whether potential small business offerors possess the capabilities to meet all of the requirements of a solicitation before issuing the solicitation as a small business set-aside, according to a recent GAO bid protest decision.

In Swank Healthcare, B-407367 (Dec. 12, 2012), the GAO denied a large business’s bid protest, holding that the procuring agency had properly issued a small business set-aside without first considering whether the small businesses it had identified as likely offerors possessed the capabilities to meet all of the requirements of the solicitation.

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Federal Court: Small Business Set-Asides Are “Competitive”

A federal judge has denied a large business’s pre-award bid protest, which was based on the large company’s argument that small business set-asides do not constitute a type of competitive procurement.

Although the decision of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Res-Care, Inc. v. The United States, No. 12-251C (2012) involved a specific statute applicable to Job Corps Centers, the court’s affirmation of small business set-asides as “competitive” reinforces an important principle underlying FAR Part 19 and other programs benefiting small government contractors.

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