Back to Basics: Agency Contracting Authority

So much of federal contracting discussion is focused on the pursuit of contracts (set-aside certifications, size status, solicitation terms, bid protests etc.). But, what sometimes gets lost in all of that is what happens after. The performance of a contract is where the rubber meets the road in federal contracting, but that doesn’t mean agencies are without limits on what they can do during performance.

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Even Rules have their Limits, Says SBA OHA about the Nonmanufacturer Rule

In a recent size appeal, the SBA OHA made it clear that the nonmanufacturer rule has it limits, and will not apply depending on the dollar value of the acquisition. OHA reminded contractors that the nonmanufacturer rule applies only to acquisitions over the simplified acquisition threshold.

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New FAR Final Rule Promotes Sustainability

As many know, a prominent goal of President Biden’s administration has been to promote green initiatives, and help reduce America’s carbon footprint. That initiative has now found its way to federal contracting. In a recent final rule, the FAR is being updated to facilitate federal contracting’s move, closer to net-zero emissions. This FAR update, updates and sets requirements for agencies to procure “sustainable products and services”, outlines what those products and services actually are, and places new expectations on contractors.

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GAO: Don’t Slip Up on SAM Registration, Even for One Day

If federal contracting had a proverbial town square, it would be SAM.gov. So much federal contracting activity flows through or starts there. A large portion of SAM is contractor information. Contractors are required to be on SAM and are expected to keep their profiles on SAM updated. A “hot off the presses” GAO ruling has confirmed that the timing of SAM registration can make or break a contractor’s winning bid.

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GAO Says: SBA’s Rules for Mentor-Protégé Joint Venture Experience Evaluations May Limit Solicitation Terms

Contractors will often enter into mentor protégé relationships and joint ventures to leverage the experience and skills of multiple parties for various reasons. SBA regulations dictate how the capabilities, past performance, and experience of a mentor-protégé joint venture will be evaluated. But at the end of the day, what matters is, whether agencies will follow those regulations in their small business set-aside solicitations and evaluations thereunder. A recent GAO case addressed this issue, providing further guidance on the interplay of solicitation terms for experience evaluations and SBA’s rules for evaluating mentor-protégé joint ventures’ experience.

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2024 NDAA will Update DFARS to Require Evaluation of Small Business Affiliate Past Performance

The 2024 NDAA is directing quite a change in past performance evaluations for offerors in Department of Defense acquisitions. Historically, an offeror’s affiliate’s past performance is not automatically considered along with the offeror’s proposal, although an agency could consider it. The 2024 NDAA, though, has actually mandated a change within the DFARS that will up-end this long-held tenet for Department of Defense contracts.

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Why File: A GAO Pre-Award Protest

For our third entry in our “Why File” series, we will be covering one of the two big bid protest routes, a “pre-award” Government Accountability Office (GAO) bid protest. Most contractors are fairly familiar with GAO bid protests that occur after an agency makes their award decision (more on this in a later “Why File” post). But contractors may be less familiar with pre-award bid protests at GAO. We will cover some of the most common reasons pre-award protests are filed at GAO, based primarily on contracting regulations and bid protest cases. As always, please keep in mind, despite the commonalities discussed below, the question of whether to protest is highly fact-specific and demands careful consideration.

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