CIO-SP4: Large Mentors Now Get More Credit

I wrote earlier about the restriction on the number of experience examples a large business mentor can provide. Well, NITAAC has listened! OK, they probably weren’t listening directly to me, but let me have this one, alright. CIO-SP4 has been amended to allow large business mentors to contribute two examples of corporate experience per task area.

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CIO-SP4: Is it Limiting Mentor Experience Too Much?

The CIO-SP4 is a big deal for many small and large federal contractors. And lately it’s been a bit of a moving target as to how NITAAC will evaluate the experience of companies working together in prime-sub, mentor-protégé, and joint-venture relationships. We wrote about some of the issues with past performance and other recent changes. One change that caught my eye puts a restriction on the number of experience examples a large business mentor can provide. But should it?

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Five Things You Should Know: Past Performance of Subcontractors, Joint Venture Partners, and Affiliates

The government’s hard shift away from lowest-price, technically acceptable evaluations has magnified the importance of past performance in many competitive acquisitions. For start-ups and other companies new to the federal marketplace, past performance requirements can present a significant barrier to success.

Oftentimes, companies with little or no past performance of their own can offer the past performance of another entity, such as a subcontractor or joint venture partner. But the rules surrounding the use of another entity’s past performance are often misunderstood–and recently, the rules have evolved quickly.

Here are five things you should know about using the past performance of a subcontractor, joint venture partner, or affiliate.

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GAO: Solicitation Cannot Require a Protégé Have the Same Experience as its Mentor

SBA regulations prohibit agencies from requiring the same past performance record from both mentor and protégé entities.  The regulations explicitly prohibit this type of requirement.

In a recent GAO decision, it sustained the protest where an agency required all members in a joint venture to submit the same past experience examples in their proposal.

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Congress Says Small Businesses Without Past Performance Can Submit Joint Venture Experience Instead

Per the 2021 NDAA that was recently approved by Congress, small business offerors without their own past performance experience can now submit experience earned as part of a joint venture–and the procuring agency must consider it. This change will significantly benefit newer companies that do not yet have the individual experience to successfully compete for government contracts (that is, assuming the President signs the NDAA). It will also add an incentive for start-up companies to take advantage of SBA’s joint venture opportunities.

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Clean-Up on Aisle “FAR”: Joint Venture and Subcontracting Plan Rules Get Modernized

Joint ventures and small business subcontracting are two issues near and dear to the hearts of many small business federal contractors. Well, the Federal Acquisition Regulation will soon be updated with respect to both of these topics. The new rules will align with SBA’s rules and remove any inconsistencies. Let’s dive in!

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Joint Venture Past Performance: Agency Properly Considered JV Members’ “Percentage Of Effort”

In evaluating a WOSB joint venture’s past performance, the procuring agency considered each joint venture member’s contemplated percentage of effort for the solicitation’s scope of work, and assigned the joint venture past performance ratings based on which member was responsible for particular past performance.

The GAO held that the agency had the discretion to evaluate joint venture past performance in this manner–although it is unclear whether a relatively new SBA regulation (which apparently didn’t apply to the solicitation) would have affected the outcome.

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