The SBA has long had a lifetime limit of two mentors for each protégé–and this limit was enforced very strictly. Say the mentor ghosted the protégé, or the two just never did any contracts together. Well, too bad, that still used up one of the two lifetime mentors that a protégé could have.
They say there are no second chances, but the SBA’s new rule will allow for second chances on a mentor protégé arrangement in some circumstances, which should benefit protégés going forward.
For joint ventures operating under the SBA’s regulations (including SBA-approved mentor-protege joint ventures), dealing with security clearances has been a particularly vexing issue: some contracting officers have insisted that a joint venture (an unpopulated, limited-purpose entity) separately obtain a Facility Security Clearance, even when both joint venture members hold FCLs.
Soon, though, joint venturers will be able to stop worrying about obtaining separate FCLs for their unpopulated joint ventures. A new SBA regulation taking effect next month allows a joint venture to rely on the security clearances of its members.
In 2016, SBA established the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program, or ASMPP, enabling mentors of any size to provide business development assistance to small protégé businesses to enhance the protégé’s ability to compete for federal contracts. Since then, the ASMPP has served as a powerful tool for many businesses and, as of August 1, there were 885 active mentor-protégé agreements.
Recently, however, the SBA’s Office of the Inspector General released a report highlighting some opportunities to improve the program and recommending SBA take additional steps to ensure compliance with the program’s requirements.
SBA regulations say that size is determined as of the date an offeror submits its initial proposal, with price. On its face, this rule seems pretty straight forward. But what happens if the initial proposal was filed six years ago? And what if the joint venture that submitted the proposal has since expired?
Following OHA’s recent logic, the proposal-date rule stands even in these unique circumstances.
The SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protégé program offers a tremendous opportunity for participants to pursue set-aside contracts as joint venture partners. But misunderstandings and misconceptions about how SBA mentor-protégé joint ventures work are pervasive.
One very common misconception is that the SBA must pre-approve a mentor-protégé joint venture. In most cases, that’s not so. In a recent bid protest decision, even the GAO appeared a little confused, repeatedly mentioning SBA approval of a joint venture even though no such approval was required for the contract in question.
A small business “can have no more than two [SBA] mentors over the life of the business,” according to the SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protege Program website.
The SBA’s clarification of the lifetime limit provides important guidance for proteges, especially because the SBA’s mentor-protege regulations aren’t exactly crystal clear when it comes to this point. The SBA’s limit ensures that small businesses don’t become permanent proteges–but is “two per lifetime” the best way to carry out that policy?
In late 2016, the SBA rolled out a fantastic tool to help small business grow in the marketplace.
Here are five things you should know about the SBA All Small Mentor-Protégé Program: