For small businesses and their teammates, few topics in government contracting are as confusing as the limitations on subcontracting for set-aside and socioeconomic sole source contracts. And if that isn’t stressful enough, the “LoS” is an area of heavy enforcement: get it wrong, and a contractor can face major penalties. The nonmanufacturer rule is another commonly misunderstood rule in the federal government contracting realm–but also, one we encounter quite often in our role assisting federal contractors.
In this course, government contracts attorneys, Nicole Pottroff & Stephanie Ellis, from Koprince McCall Pottroff LLC, will help you make sense of the limitations on subcontracting and nonmanufacturer rule. Using a step-by-step process and plenty of examples to bring these rules to life will help you ensure both understanding and compliance. Hope you will join us! Registration link here.
If you are an avid SmallGovCon reader and a small business government contractor, you are probably no stranger to at least the basics of SBA’s size standards and its size and affiliation regulations (if not, check out some of our other blogs on the subject and keep an eye out for our upcoming new, second edition of the “SBA Small Business Size and Affiliation Rules” handbook). But either way, did you know, if you are pursuing or participating in one of SBA’s other small business socioeconomic programs (8(a) Program, HUBZone, WOSB, SDVOSB, etc.), there may be additional requirements you must meet regarding your company’s size in order to be eligible for such small business socioeconomic statuses?
13 C.F.R. § 125.6 sets out the limitations on subcontracting for all small business set-asides (including 8(a), SDVOSB/VOSB, HUBzone, and WOSB/EDWOSB set asides.) These limitations on subcontracting are crucial for any small business federal contractor to be familiar with, and we have discussed how they work here. But, while the regulation does provide for certain legal penalties for violations of these limitations, up until SBA’s recent rule change, it didn’t provide for any direct consequences for a company’s past performance (although conceivably an agency could mention limitations on subcontracting as part of a CPARS review). Furthermore, SBA now will require that compliance with the limitations be looked at on an order-by-order basis for multi-agency set aside contracts where more than one agency can issue orders under the contract, and for full and open contracts where the task order is set aside for small businesses. All this is effective May 30, 2023, and we explore these changes here.
You may have noticed that SBA issued a final rule last week that created sweeping changes to the SBA’s 8(a) Program regulations, but along with that, SBA made sure to slip in a change to the ostensible subcontractor rule that has been a sticking point for many contractors when facing affiliation concerns. With this final rule, SBA will update the regulations to provide contractors certain ways to defend against potential ostensible subcontractor rule affiliation, depending on the type of contract at issue. This represents a shift in thinking, related to how to combat allegations brought under this affiliation rule and could present some new wrinkles for contractors to consider when setting up subcontracting arrangements.
The FAR requires offerors, in most situations, to disclose any actual or potential organizational conflicts of interest (OCI) that exist when submitting an offer or proposal in response to a solicitation. While it is rare that an offeror will be excluded from competition solely due to the existence or potential of an OCI, offerors who do not disclose as required will most likely be excluded, making this a situation where you generally want to disclose the existence of an OCI up front, not explain after the agency’s discovery through other means. Offerors may choose to avoid, mitigate, or neutralize an OCI by putting up a organizational barrier between the individual creating the OCI and the perceived or actual conflict. However, in some situations, avoiding, mitigating, or neutralizing the OCI may not be in the agency’s best interest. In that case, and as happened in Accenture Federal Services, LLC, agencies are given the option to waive the requirements of FAR subpart 9.5, thereby making award regardless of the existence or potential of an OCI.
SBA has issued a final rule updating some of its rules relating to the 8(a) Program. The final rule will have an impact on some aspects of ownership and control requirements for the 8(a) Program, including providing some flexibility for change of ownership and making some 8(a) set-aside processes a little cleaner. The rule would also allow for populated joint ventures between similarly situated joint venture members.
We wrote about the proposed rule last year. Below are some of the key takeaways from the final rule and any changes from the proposed rule.
Here in Kansas, it is certainly starting to feel like thunderstorm season–and one of my favorite seasons, I might add. But over in D.C., some may say it is starting to feel like protest season! That said, anyone familiar with the protest process at D.C.’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) is probably also quite familiar with the strict timeliness rules GAO applies to such protests. And frankly, even for the seasoned GAO protesters, a refresher on the timeliness rules can be quite beneficial–especially given the answer to when a certain type of protest is due is not always an easy calculation. So, let’s take it back to the basics and run through some of those rules here.