Federal Circuit Decision: Slightly Opens Protest Door to Non-Offerors

Lately, we’ve seen a boom in protests being brought to the United States Court of Federal Claims (COFC) in lieu of protests brought at the Government Accountability Office (GAO). And it appears that the recent decision in Percipient.AI, Inc. v. United States, 2023-1970 (June 7, 2024) may have just set the course for even more. But the case here didn’t start with an offeror under a solicitation. Instead, it was brought by a commercial software company, Percipient.AI, Inc. (Percipient), who challenged the government’s acquisition of custom software at the Court of Federal Claims and then landed right in the lap of United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit).

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SmallGovCon Week in Review: July 15-19, 2024

Happy Friday! July sure is flying by! We’ve been very busy here at SmallGovCon with all that is happening in the federal government contracting world. We have included an extensive list of informative articles for this week in review.

At the top of our week in review articles, SmallGovCon contributor Nicole Pottroff was quoted in a touching Washington Post story that we have included this week, concerning the SBA’s 8(a) Program social disadvantage narrative requirements. Enjoy your weekend!

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Common Misconceptions: SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program (Part I – MPP JVs & Affiliation Shield)

The SBA’s Small Business Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP) is arguably one of the federal government’s most successful undertakings when it comes to supporting our nation’s small business policies, economy, and contracting goals. It fosters the development of small business protégés, allowing many different forms of mentor assistance. It includes opportunity for eligible protégés and their mentors to joint venture (JV) for set-aside contracts—often otherwise off-limits to mentors that don’t qualify for the set-aside status/size standard and/or to protégés incapable of competing for or performing such contracts on their own. MPP JV awards may also incentivize federal government customers—simultaneously getting closer to meeting their set-aside quotas and getting the know-how, qualifications, resources, and personnel of more experienced (typically larger) contractors.

While it’s easy to see why this program enjoys immense popularity amongst small and large businesses alike, confusion consistently shrouds SBA’s MPP, nevertheless (hence the need for a two-parter here). In this article, we’ll skip over the “basics” of SBA’s MPP (which you can read all about here) and instead, jump right into the first few common misconceptions surrounding the program (with the rest to follow in Part II).

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He Never Saw Himself as Disadvantaged. Then the Government had Him Write an Essay. -Julian Mark (Washington Post)

I am incredible honored by the shout-out I received in this recent, powerful Washington Post article, by the talented Julian Mark. Mark also wrote the prior article including my statements about the 8(a) Program litigation and changes that took place last summer, which you can read about here. This second article covers the incredible story of 8(a) Program graduate, Curtis Joachim, and my work with him in drafting a successful social disadvantage narrative to remain in the program for his final year—a requirement (now) for all applicants and participants imposed by Federal District Court and implemented by SBA. I am so fortunate I had the opportunity to work with Curtis and so grateful for his strength and grace in sharing his inspiring story.

VOSB Program Possibly Expanding? Congress Takes Next Step Towards VOSB Expansion

The Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) Program has long held a sort of unheralded position in SBA and federal contracting. Unlike its much more expansive counterpart, the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program, the VOSB Program only allows for set asides for VOSBs for VA procurements (and even within VA SDVOSB companies are in a higher tier than VOSBs). In contrast, all agencies can set aside contracts for SDVOSBs. This has limited the desirability of admission to the program for many veteran owners, many of whom do not do work, that the VA needs. But things might be changing, as Congress has proposed a big step towards expanding what agencies can set-aside contracts for VOSBs.

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SBA Certify Portal Applications to be Paused

If you have ever looked into socio-economic certifications through the SBA or “set-asides” as some call them, you undoubtedly have run into SBA’s certify portal. It certainly is a big part of the small business federal contracting landscape, with likely massive numbers of site visitors a day. However, it will soon be updated, causing a pause on new applications very soon.

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SmallGovCon Week in Review: July 8-12, 2024

Hello readers and happy Friday! We hope you had a nice 4th of July and were able to spend some time with friends and family. This week’s round-up of federal government news, includes some cautionary tales on why defrauding the government is a very bad idea, the impact of the Boeing guilty plea on its federal contracts, and commentary on the Percipient.ai case and its effect on COFC jurisdiction.

Have a great weekend!

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