Week In Review: July 6 – July 10, 2020

Congratulations, everyone! We’ve made it through another week. Hopefully your weekend will be full of (socially-distanced) pool parties and barbecues . . . or, at the least, an afternoon couch nap.

Before we log off for the weekend, it’s time for the SmallGovCon Week In Review. In this week’s edition, we’ll touch on CMMC (of course), the Alliant II cancellation, and more.

Have a great weekend!

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Joint Ventures: Is “Unequivocal Control” Required?

Fans of the blog know that we’re wild about joint ventures: they allow small business contractors to use their size status while, at the same time, leveraging their joint venture partner’s experience and capabilities.

But joint ventures—particularly joint ventures under one of the SBA’s socioeconomic programs—can be tricky to create. For joint ventures between a small and a large company, the venturers first need an approved mentor-protégé agreement. And regardless, for the joint venture to qualify under a socioeconomic designation, that joint venture must have a compliant agreement.

But that’s still not enough to create a compliant joint venture. As a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision explains, the small business venturer must unequivocally control the joint venture.

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GAO Bid Protests: A Wrinkle In Time(liness)

As our regular readers know, a GAO protest challenging an agency’s evaluation decision must be filed within 10 days from the date the protester knew (or should have known) of the protest grounds, or within 10 days from the date the protester receives its debriefing (but only if the debriefing was required and timely requested). 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(2).

But sometimes, an agency might give an offeror a reason to protest before it makes its official award determination. In that case, should the offeror wait to file its protest until the agency completes its evaluation?

In some cases, no—the protest should be filed within 10 days from the date the agency makes its determination known.

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SBA OHA confirms 3-year look-back period for economic dependence affiliation

Under the SBA’s regulations, affiliation between two companies might exist where one company derives 70% or more of its receipts from the other over the preceding three fiscal years. See 13 C.F.R. § 121.103(f)(2).

This economic dependence affiliation, as it is called, can be tricky to identify in practice—it is, after all, a rebuttable presumption of affiliation. That is, a company might be able to demonstrate that economic dependence doesn’t exist if, for example, it has only been in business for a limited amount of time and has only been awarded a limited number of contracts.

Recently, the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals considered the bounds of the economic dependence affiliation rule and interpreted the three-year look-back period.

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Reminder: Joint Venture Agreements Must Include Required Provisions

It’s no secret that federal contract opportunities are becoming more and more competitive. But as we’ve previously gushed, small businesses enjoy a tremendous tool for enhancing their competitiveness: participating in a joint venture with another company.

Properly formed, a joint venture allows its participants to augment their capabilities and experiences in the quest to win (and successfully perform) a particular opportunity. But there’s the trick—to enjoy the benefits of a joint venture, that joint venture must meet various regulatory requirements. One misstep and the joint venture might not be eligible for the award.

A recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision shows the importance of making sure these regulatory requirements are met.

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Client Spotlight: Active Deployment Systems Gives Back To Those Impacted By COVID-19

For many people—and for businesses all across the country—the news over the past month or two has been bleak. Even for those lucky enough to stay healthy, COVID-19 has caused significant financial pain, as business disruptions have led to unemployment numbers rivaling those seen during the Great Depression.

To be sure, there are rays of sunshine poking through the storm clouds. The federal government has tried to get financial support to small businesses coping with economic uncertainty. And we’ve heard incredible stories of people helping their neighbors in need.

These feel-good stories truly are inspiring. That’s why, when I heard of one client’s effort to give back to their community, I felt compelled to share it.

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Defense Department Provides COVID-19 Guidance

Last week, we wrote about OMB’s guidance to contracting officers in dealing with the extraordinary challenges caused by COVID-19. Among other things, OMB instructed agencies to be flexible in providing extensions on performance deadline and encouraged open communication with industry partners on the response to COVID-19.

Now, the Department of Defense—the federal government’s largest purchasing unit—has issued its own guidance to constituent agencies.

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