The Department of Defense (DoD) has proposed to revise the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFARS) to reauthorize and improve the DoD Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP). The primary purpose of the proposed rule (Proposed Rule) is to reauthorize the DoD MPP, provide incentives to large DoD contractors to serve as mentors to small businesses, and extend opportunities for small businesses to participate in the MPP. In addition, the proposed rule removes restrictions on the eligibility of small businesses by aligning the size of the small business with the size standard associated with its primary NAICS code.
The Proposed Rule is here.
Reauthorization of the DoD MPP
The Proposed Rule basically reauthorizes the DoD MPP program by resetting many of the dates under the current rules. Specifically:
– The date for entering into a mentor-protégé agreement will be extended to September 30, 2024 (Appendix I-103);
– The date for mentor reimbursements to be paid for developmental assistance costs incurred under the Program will be extended to September 30, 2026 (DFARS 219.7104(b);
– The date for a mentor to receive credit toward attainment of the subcontracting goals in its small business subcontracting plan for developmental assistance costs incurred under the Program will be extended to September 30, 2026 (DFARS 219.7104(d));
– The maximum length of participation in the MPP is reduced from three to two years—unless approval is otherwise obtained for an additional period not to exceed three years (Appendix I-107).
Expands Maximum Size Standards
The Proposed Rule aligns the size of the small business with the size standard associated with its primary North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. Currently, to be eligible for the MPP a business must be less than half the size standard for its primary NAICS code. For eligibility under the Proposed Rule, a business just must not exceed its primary NAICS size standard. The change in the rule benefits small businesses by expanding the number of small businesses that will be eligible to participate in the MPP. The Proposed rule is also expected to benefit large businesses and the government, as well, by expanding the defense industrial base.
The Proposed rule also:
– Adds as a component included in the MPP, a preliminary assessment of the protégé firm’s cybersecurity readiness. The DoD Office of Small Business Program (OSBP ) will provide the assessment; and
– Adds a provision in the Policies and Procedures for the MPP that the DoD is authorized to terminate the mentor-protégé agreement for the convenience of the Government.
This rule does not create any new solicitation provisions or contract clauses. Also, it does not impact any existing provisions or clauses or their applicability to contracts at or below the simplified acquisition threshold, acquisitions of commercial products including commercially available off-the-shelf items, and acquisitions of commercial services.
While the changes aren’t revolutionary, they should make the DoD MPP program work more smoothly. The goal of the changes in the Proposed Rule is to expand opportunities for small businesses to participate in the MPP and encourage large businesses to provide assistance to small businesses. These goals support the overall objective of the MPP of enhancing the capabilities of small businesses, and increasing the participation of small businesses to perform as subcontractors and suppliers under DoD, Federal Government, and commercial contracts.
The DoD invites comments from small businesses and other interested parties should review the Proposed Rule and consider providing comments by the April 29, 2022, deadline.
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