No Ostensible Subcontractor Rule for Manufactured Product Procurements, SBA OHA Confirms

The SBA’s ostensible subcontractor rule can be a minefield for small prime contractors, who must be careful to avoid risk factors for affiliation with their large subcontractors.

But not every small prime need worry about ostensible subcontractor affiliation. As a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision confirms, the ostensible subcontractor rule does not apply to procurements for manufactured products.

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Solicitation Ambiguities: Speak Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace

When a federal solicitation is vague, ambiguous or internally contradictory, it is common for offerors to hold their tongues. Instead of challenging the solicitation’s defects before proposals are due, many offerors decide to submit proposals and “see how it plays out.” Later, if the award goes to a competitor, these offerors may try to protest the solicitation’s defects.

It’s unsurprising that offerors can be reticent to rock the boat before an award is made. But a recent GAO bid protest decision demonstrates, complaining about the ground rules after award rarely works.

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Proposal Points of Contact: Don’t Rely on Automatic Email Response, GAO Decision Warns

Agencies commonly ask offerors to designate a point of contact for communications about the proposal. But what happens if the person the offeror identifies is unavailable when the agency reaches out?

A recent GAO bid protest decision is a cautionary tale and suggests some best practices for offerors.

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Congress Requires Large Primes to Provide Past Performance Reviews to Small Subcontractors–And Agencies to Consider Them

Breaking into the federal government contracting marketplace can be challenging, and many small businesses choose to start as subcontractors. But when those companies later bid on prime contracts, they sometimes find that they cannot get past performance reviews for their subcontract work, or that the government won’t consider such reviews.

Now, Congress has stepped in. A provision in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act will require large prime contractors to provide small businesses with past performance reviews in certain cases, and will require agencies to consider them.

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Event: SDVOSB Programs Webinar, Hosted by Govology

The federal government spends more than $20 billion annually on contracts with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. But the rules governing SDVOSB eligibility can be complex and confusing – starting with the fact that the government runs not one, but two SDVOSB programs.

On January 14, join me for a webinar, hosted by our friends at Govology, covering the ins-and-outs of Uncle Sam’s SDVOSB programs. In this session, I will demystify the key SDVOSB eligibility requirements in plain English and provide an update on some major pending changes to the SDVOSB programs. It’s easy to register: just follow this link. I hope to see you (virtually, anyway) on January 14!

Check Your Joint Venture Agreements: Under-the-Radar SBA Change Could Cause Problems

Joint ventures operating under the SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protege Program may need to adjust their joint venture agreements because of a little-noticed change to SBA’s joint venture rules.

In its recent final rule, effective November 16, SBA amended two of the mandatory requirements for mentor-protege joint ventures pursuing small business set-aside contracts. SBA did not make corresponding changes to the joint venture rules for SBA’s four major socioeconomic programs–meaning that a joint venture agreement that complies with the small business set-aside rules may not be valid if the joint venture pursues 8(a), SDVOSB/VOSB, HUBZone or WOSB/EDWOSB contracts (and vice versa).

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SBIR Program: Agencies Have Broad Discretion Over Phase III Awards, GAO Confirms

A federal agency has broad discretion to make a sole source award under Phase III of the Small Business Innovation Research program.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO confirmed that an agency may make a Phase III award when the contract “derives from, extends, or completes efforts made under prior funding agreements under the SBIR program.” What’s more, an agency has “relatively limited requirements to justify a phase III award,” and considerable discretion when it comes to determining whether a new contract fits this definition.

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