GAO Sustains Protest to Solicitation’s Implementation of Randolph-Sheppard Act

GAO recently sustained a protest to the terms of a solicitation incorporating the Randolph-Sheppard Act (RSA). The RSA is a statutorily-prescribed preference for blind individuals in the operation of vending facilities (which include cafeterias, snack bars, and automatic vending machines) on Federal property.

The protester here, the incumbent contractor and a non-RSA HUBZone concern, challenged the agency’s decision to include the RSA preference in its HUBZone set-aside solicitation for food service attendant services, arguing the work the solicitation contemplated was not for the operation of a cafeteria. And GAO agreed. This GAO decision could have a significant impact, given the broad range of food service solicitations that agencies have been (seemingly increasingly) applying the RSA to lately. Let’s take a deeper dive.

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House Passes Senate Bill to Modernize Processes to Increase Small Business Participation in Federal Contracting

The House recently passed Senate Bill 583, titled the “Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions (PRICE) Act.” The Price Act would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to report projects from its Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL) that have used innovative techniques to help modernize contracting procedures. The bill would also require the DHS to offer training to its personnel on how to use these techniques. In addition, the PRICE Act would require that these innovative best practices be made available to other federal agencies to improve procurement methods and training. The Price Act also supports the White House’s goals of providing new federal contracting opportunities to small disadvantaged businesses.

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Top SmallGovCon Posts of 2021

2021 was a big year for many reasons, among them the continued COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s responses to the pandemic, including the various vaccine mandates and lawsuits challenging those mandates. But there were also lower-profile changes and updates to the federal contracting world. Below, I’ll explore the posts that were most popular in 2021, along with the posts first published in 2021 that were popular this year.

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House-Approved 2022 NDAA Makes HUBZone Changes, Including HUBZone Appeals

The House-passed version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act would make some significant changes for the HUBZone program. Among them are the ability to have HUBZone appeals heard by administrative judges. Below is a summary of the key changes The House version of the 2022 NDAA includes some amendments that could come about if they are all included in the final law.

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HUBZone FAQ Update: Maps and Other Changes

The SBA’s HUBZone program can be a confusing program to understand and comply with. Keeping on top of the regulations requires keeping up on legislative and program changes on a revolving basis. The SBA has recently frozen the HUBZone maps and changed principal office rules. In a corresponding move, the SBA has updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section for the HUBZone program to clarify some details on HUBZone Program rules.

Here are some key points you should know about this latest FAQ update.

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GAO: Agency Has Discretion on Type of Socioeconomic Set-Aside for Procurement

From a recent GAO decision it appears that the ends can, in fact, justify the means; at least when it comes procurement set-asides for HUBZone companies. The decision is Foxhole Technology, Inc. B-419577 (May 12, 2021). In this matter, Foxhole Technology, Inc., a service-disabled veteran-owned small business, protested the Department of Education’s decision to set aside an RFQ to supply cybersecurity services for HUBZone businesses. In its protest, Foxhole argued that the agency’s decision to set aside the procurement for HUBZone small business concerns was based on inadequate market research and was therefore not justified. GAO denied the protest.

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Event: Understanding & Obtaining HUBZone Certification – Update 2021

Live Govology Webinar: April 8, 2021, 1:00-2:30pm EDT Instructors: Steven Koprince & Shane McCall

In late 2019, the SBA issued a final rule, making several changes to the HUBZone program. Join us as we discuss these changes as well as SBA’s related guidance and provide an overview of the HUBZone program’s requirements, including:

  • Ownership, control, and other HUBZone eligibility criteria.
  • Benefits: HUBZone set-asides, sole-source contracts, and price preference.
  • The principal office rule and why it may not be your headquarters.
  • The 35% employee rule and the “attempt to maintain” standard.
  • Who qualifies as an employee and what happens if they move.
  • The clear line of fracture standard.
  • Annual certification.
  • Program examinations.
  • Maintaining compliance in a changing landscape.

If you’re a HUBZone concern trying to navigate these uncharted waters or have thought about obtaining HUBZone certification in the future, this webinar is for you. Register here.