For small businesses, the SBA’s Certificate of Competency process can offer a powerful “second bite at the apple,” essentially allowing a small business to appeal to the SBA if a procuring agency finds the small business non-responsible.
But the SBA CoC process is limited to findings of non-responsibility under FAR Part 9. As GAO recently held, there is no right to appeal to SBA if the proposal was rejected for failing to adequately explain the small business’s technical approach.
Your small business is interested in submitting a proposal that requires a Department of Defense Facilities Clearance (FCL). While you will not have the required FCL when proposals are due, you have applied for the FCL and all signs indicate you will have the FCL by the time contract performance begins. In this scenario, can the agency outright deny your proposal or would it have to refer your proposal to the SBA for a certificate of competency?
Turns out, it all hinges on whether GAO views the FCL requirement as a matter of proposal acceptability or corporate responsibility.
If a contracting officer determines that a small business offeror is not qualified to perform under a solicitation, that usually means the offeror’s proposal will be rejected. In some instances, however, the offeror gets a second chance through the SBA’s Certificate of Competency (“COC”) program.
Here are five things you should know about the COC program.
The breadth and depth of protests heard by GAO may lead even a seasoned government contractor to overlook the limitations of GAO’s jurisdiction.
As one contractor recently found, the GAO generally will not consider
protests based on an allegation that the agency should not have referred an
adverse responsibility determination to the SBA for a certificate of competency
An agency was not required to evaluate past performance under an SDVOSB set-aside solicitation that contemplated making award to the lowest-price, technically-acceptable offeror.
According to a recent GAO bid protest decision, a past performance evaluation in the context of an LPTA set-aside is essentially duplicative of the agency’s evaluation of responsibility, meaning that a separate past performance evaluation isn’t necessary.
A small business received an “unacceptable” score for its key personnel, but nevertheless was awarded the contract after the matter was referred to the SBA under the Certificate of Competency procedures.
A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims demonstrates the breadth and power of the so-called “COC” process, which can allow an otherwise “unacceptable” business to wind up in the winner’s circle.