2020 Rewind: The Year’s Biggest Government Contracting News Affecting Small Businesses

Let’s face it: most people won’t look back on 2020 with anything remotely approaching nostalgia.  Here at Koprince Law LLC, we are eager to turn the page and move on with 2021, too. 

But small businesses shouldn’t forget 2020 completely.  The year brought many important developments, including major changes to some key government contracting rules that our readers should remember.  So here, in a nutshell, are the most important 2020 government contracting changes and legal developments for small businesses. 

SBA Small Business Size & Affiliation Rules 

  • Contractors operating under employee-based size standards are getting their own “runway extension.”  In the 2021 NDAA, Congress has lengthened the receipts-based size standard from 12 to 24 months.  Read More.   
  • After the success of its All-Small Mentor-Protégé Program, the SBA consolidated the ASMPP with the longstanding 8(a) Mentor-Protégé Program.  But what does this change mean for small businesses and their mentors? Read More.   
  • Speaking of mentors, the SBA has eased its “two per lifetime” mentorship limit.  Read More.  
  • The SBA has confirmed that a mentor can take the 40% equity stake and still receive up to 60% of mentor-protégé joint venture profits.  Read More.  
  • Have you struggled with the SBA’s “Certify” online platform?  An SBA Inspector General Report explains how Certify has failed to meet its objectives—and the SBA is throwing in the towel. Read More.  
  • The Government’s Fiscal Year 2019 Small Business Scorecard had mostly good news, with small business prime contracting going over $130 billion and contracting with SDBs, SDVOSBs and WOSBs all exceeding their targets.  Read More.  
  • Want to learn the ins-and-outs of SBA size protests and appeals?  Koprince Law’s Managing Partner, Shane McCall, published his GovCon Handbook with comprehensive information.  Read More.   

8(a) Program  

  • Huge news for 8(a) companies: Congress has authorized an extra year of participation (10 years instead of nine) for active 8(a) Program participants.  Read More.   
  • If a company’s 8(a) application is denied, it can now reapply in just 90 days, instead of one year.  Read More.   
  • In a cautionary tale, a company was terminated from the 8(a) Program because the disadvantaged individual took a second job.  Read More.   
  • The SBA has increased (substantially) the income and net worth thresholds for initial admission to the 8(a) Program.  Read More.   
  • The DoD can now award 8(a) sole source contracts up to $100 million without a formal justification—although the higher-value 8(a) sole sources are only available to Tribal, ANC and NHO companies.  Read More.   
  • For some 8(a) applicants, putting together a social disadvantage narrative can be challenging.  Senior Associate Nicole Pottroff explores what the SBA is really looking for.  Read More.   

WOSB Program 

  • We didn’t have a ton of WOSB-specific news this year, but this one was a biggie: the SBA finally implemented a rule requiring formal certification (not self-certification) for WOSB contracts.  Read More.   
  • Speaking of formal certification, the DoD followed up with a class deviation to ensure that its Contracting Officers only award WOSB and EDWOSB contracts to formally-certified companies.  Read More.   

SDVOSB Programs 

  • After years of discussion, it is finally happening: Congress has established a governmentwide SDVOSB verification requirement and will move the CVE from the VA to the SBA.  Read More.   
  • The CVE isn’t doing too badly when it comes to processing SDVOSB and VOSB applications: the average processing time is just 34 days.  Read More.   
  • The VA violated the SDVOSB “rule of two” (again!) by moving work to the AbilityOne program without a rule of two analysis.  Read More.  
  • If a company’s SDVOSB or VOSB application is denied, the company can appeal—but the appeal must go to the SBA, not the VA.  Read More.  
  • “No Strings Attached.”  The SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals issued a case reminding SDVOSBs that the veteran’s ownership must be unconditional.  Read More.   
  • Self-certification of SDVOSB status isn’t working too well, at least according to one Inspector General report, which found major problems in a sample of self-certified companies.  Read More.   

HUBZone Program 

  • The SBA’s Inspector General has questioned the legality of allowing HUBZone employees to continue counting as HUBZone residents even after they move.  Read More.   
  • The SBA allowed some flexibility for HUBZone compliance in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read More.   
  • Compliance with the new HUBZone rules is a little less confusing, thanks to new guidance issued by the SBA.  Read More.   

Joint Ventures 

  • A recent, under-the-radar change to SBA’s mandatory joint venture requirements could cause compliance problems.  Read More.   
  • If a small business lacks relevant past performance, a new Congressional requirement will allow the small business to submit a joint venture’s past performance, instead.  Read More.   
  • The SBA’s administrative judges have required the lead member of a joint venture to have “unequivocal” control, but a new SBA regulation dials back on this requirement.  Read More.   
  • How do a joint venture’s receipts affect a company’s small business size status?  The SBA provided some helpful guidance.  Read More.   
  • For joint ventures, dealing with Facility Security Clearance requirements has sometimes been a bit of a nightmare.  In a new rule, the SBA has fixed this longstanding problem.  Read More.  
  • The SBA simplified —but didn’t eliminate—its infamous “three-in-two” rule for joint ventures.  Read More.   


  • How does a joint venture comply with the limitations on subcontracting?  The SBA provided some much-needed guidance.  Read More.   

  • A new SBA regulation requires procuring agencies to consider the past performance, experience and capabilities of a small prime’s subcontractors—sometimes, anyway.  Read More.   

Other Notable Changes 

  • The FAR Council implemented an interim rule, prohibiting contractors from using certain Chinese telecommunications products. Read More.   
  • The FAR Council also amended the FAR to raise the simplified acquisition and micro-purchase thresholds.  Read More.   
  • The SBA updated its self-certified Small Disadvantaged Business program regulations.  Read More.   
  • How to deal with contract modifications due to COVID-19?  We took a look at this important question.  Read More.   
  • The SBA clarified some of its regulations involving large primes’ subcontracting plans.  Read More.   

2020 was full of major government contracting changes, and many more are on the way in 2021.  To keep up with the latest developments, check back with us at smallgovcon.com.

Questions about this post? Email us or give us a call at 785-200-8919.

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