Subcontracting is a hot topic in the federal government contracting world. Large businesses placing bids on federal procurements are often required to have a small business subcontracting plan, while small businesses are limited to exactly how much work they can subcontract out. The FAR and SBA rules contain the details relevant to small businesses’ limitations on subcontracting. These regulations are, in general, pretty straightforward. Well, at least when it comes to total small business set asides for one specific type of work. Further, there are a ton of resources available to help small business federal contractors understand these limits. Just googling “limitations on subcontracting” comes up with webinars, blogs, federal government sites, and even YouTube videos on the topic, but most only focus on the more general limitations. There aren’t nearly as many resources that take on the topic of partial set asides, but these limitations are important as well. In this post, I am going to walk you through how these limitations apply to partial set asides to show that contracts partially set aside for small businesses are not nearly as intimidating as they may seem.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
On June 30, 2016, a major new SBA regulation took effect, overhauling the limitations on subcontracting. The SBA’s new regulation, codified at 13 C.F.R. 125.6, replaced the “old” formulas for calculating compliance–like “cost of the contract incurred for personnel,” for service contracts, with new, easier-to-use formulas based on the amount paid by the government. And, in a major boon for small businesses, the SBA’s new regulation allowed small primes to count work performed by “similarly situated entities” toward the prime’s own self-performance.
But more than five years after the SBA regulation took effect, the FAR’s provisions governing the limitations on subcontracting still resemble Marty McFly: stuck in the past. The FAR Council still has not updated the FAR to conform with the SBA’s regulations and the underlying Congressional mandate, causing considerable confusion for contractors trying to figure out which rule to follow.
Now, though, we may finally (hopefully!) be nearing the finish line for this important and long-delayed FAR change.Continue reading
America’s criminal justice system is founded on the principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. And when it comes to compliance with the limitations on subcontracting, a similar principle applies.
In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO confirmed that a small business’s proposal does not need to affirmatively demonstrate compliance with the “LoS.” Instead, compliance is presumed, unless the proposal “on its face” should lead the procuring agency to conclude that the small business will not comply.Continue reading
For small government contractors, the disconnect between the SBA’s updated limitations on subcontracting rule and the FAR’s outdated rules has been very confusing. For more than two years, the FAR and SBA regulation have used different formulas to determine compliance, and the SBA rule–but not the FAR–allows the use of “similarly situated entities” on small business set-asides and 8(a) contracts.
This has created major headaches for small businesses, who have had no definitive answer to what should be a simple question: “which rule do I follow?” Now, finally, there is some important progress to report in clearing up this discrepancy: yesterday, the FAR Council issued a proposed rule to update the FAR’s limitations on subcontracting provisions and conform them to the SBA’s rule.
At least a couple times a month, I’m asked when the FAR’s limitations on subcontracting provisions will be updated to correspond with SBA regulations adopted in 2016, and underlying statutory changes adopted way back in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
Well, now it seems that the FAR updates may take longer than I’d hoped. In its most recent “Open Cases” update, the FAR Council says that it’s made a switch in the procedure that will be used to implement the changes to the limitations on subcontracting–and that switch will likely delay the implementation of those changes by several months.
A procurement may not be set aside for SDVOSB concerns without also including mandatory VA set-aside VAAR provisions, including the limitation on subcontracting.
In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that a solicitation was flawed where the cover sheet indicated that the solicitation would be set aside for SDVOSBs, but the solicitation omitted the mandatory VAAR SDVOSB set-aside clause.