No Sick Notes at the SBA: Illness Doesn’t Extend SBA Filing Deadlines

Like many others who went to school in the 1980s, Ferris Bueller was one of my personal heroes.  Ferris took the idea of faking sick from school and turned it into an art form, complete with a moving mannequin in the bed, canned messages playing when the doorbell rang, and even a before-its-time hacking of the school computers to change his attendance records.  And of course, Ferris spent his day off tooling around in a Ferrari, attending a Chicago Cubs game (nice taste, Ferris!), and bringing The Beatles back into style.  What kid wouldn’t want to skip school for that?

Sick days–whether real or not–are a time-honored part of school.  Unfortunately, as one contractor learned the hard way, sick notes may not work at the SBA.

In Log In Systems, Inc., SBA No SIZ-5130 (2010), the SBA notified a business, Log In Systems Inc., that a competitor had filed a size protest against it on a Department of Homeland Security contract, and offered it a chance to respond.  Log In failed to respond, and the SBA drew an “adverse inference,” finding Log In “other than small.”

Log In appealed, arguing in part that it had failed to respond because its owner was ill.  The SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals made short work of that argument.  It wrote that “[i]llness does not provide an exemption from the requirement that a firm must respond to a size protest,” and concluded that Log In had “no valid legal excuse for not responding.”

When a firm finds itself on the wrong end of a size protest, it must timely respond.  In Log In’s case, if its owner’s illness was a genuine emergency preventing it from providing a timely response, it should have asked the SBA and the agency for an extension.  Instead, Log In let the deadline slide, then tried to hand SBA OHA a “sick note.”  Not surprisingly, it didn’t work.

To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, the time frame in which to respond to an SBA size protest moves pretty fast.  If you don’t respond quickly, it could pass you by.

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