The Basics: Socioeconomic Sole Source Awards

Just last week during a Govology webinar on Women-Owned Small Businesses, one of the attendees asked my colleague Haley Claxton and I an insightful question about the different standards for giving sole source awards to participants in various government programs. She wanted to know the difference between how contracting officers go about offering an 8(a) sole source award and a WOSB sole source award.

I had to admit, the practical, ground-level, nitty gritty business of how these awards are doled out doesn’t actually come across my desk that much.

So, let’s take a look, shall we?

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SmallGovCon Year in Review: The Top Ten

As we reflect on the end of 2019 and look forward to what 2020 will bring, it’s interesting to see what was noteworthy to our readers in 2019. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of some of our most popular posts from 2019. 2020 will certainly bring many more changes in the federal contracting world and SmallGovCon will be here to provide insight on all of them.

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House Passes Bill to Increase Potential Size of Sole Source Awards

Amidst the news cycle focusing on the government shutdown, there is some other action in the House of Representatives that recently caught our eye.

The House recently passed a bill called the “Expanding Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses Act of 2019.” If the bill becomes law, we will see a dramatic expansion in the size of sole source contracts for SDVOSBs, WOSBs, and HUBZones.

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Small Business Set-Asides Not Required Under NETCENTS-2, Says GAO

The Air Force’s large NETCENTS-2 IDIQ vehicle did not require orders to be set-aside under the small business pool, except for orders valued between the micro-purchase threshold and simplified acquisition threshold.

In a recent decision, the GAO held that although the NETCENTS-2 contract in question says that Contracting Officers “should” perform a “rule of two” small business set-aside analysis for orders valued over the simplified acquisition threshold, it does not require that such an analysis be performed–meaning that Contracting Officers can validly award such orders to large businesses, even if two or more small business NETCENTS-2 holders exist.

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Federal Circuit Affirms Sole-Source Justification

Not too many government contracting disputes make it to a federal court of appeals—the level just a step below the U.S. Supreme Court. The most notable recent examples would probably be the Federal Circuit’s decision in Kingdomware Technologies (which, as SmallGovCon readers know, was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court in 2016) and the D.C. Circuit’s decision Rothe Development (which the Supreme Court declined to consider).

But recently, the Federal Circuit issued a decision of note to government contractors. In AgustaWestland North America v. United States, the Court issued guidance on what constitutes a “procurement decision” and upheld the Army’s decision to buy helicopters on a sole-source basis.

Let’s take a look.

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8(a) Sole Source Decision: “Bad Faith” Bid Protest An Uphill Battle

An agency’s decision to award a contract as an 8(a) sole source is a “business decision” for which the agency has broad discretion–and a potential protester challenging the agency’s use of that discretion will have an uphill battle.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO confirmed that government officials are presumed to act in good faith, and that the presumption extends to the decision to award an 8(a) sole source contract instead of competing the work in question.

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GAO: Agency’s Order Exceeded BPA Scope

An agency’s attempt to order under a Federal Supply Schedule blanket purchase agreement was improper because the order exceeded the scope of the underlying BPA.

In a recent bid protest decision, GAO held that the agency had erred by attempting to issue a sole-source delivery order for cloud-based email service when the underlying BPA did not envision cloud services.

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